Many Americans are deficient in magnesium and do not even know it. There is no accurate lab test to determine the deficiency since any deviation from normal magnesium levels in tissues can result in heart attack and death. Instead the individual becomes progressively deficient as the body strives to maintain the required blood levels of magnesium at the cost of depleting levels of this important nutrient in all the body tissues.
This deficiency has developed in part because of industrialised factory farming practices which emphasis the use of fertilizers rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to make plants grow and appear healthy. If important micronutrients are missing from the soil, the plants may look healthy but will not have the necessary nutrients for our bodies. Farming practices like using the wrong fertilizer, repetitious planting of the same crops and heavy use of chemical herbicides and pesticides set the stage for serious nutritional deficiencies and magnesium is one such nutrient that is lacking in most of the foods that are not organically grown.
Magnesium deficiency can manifest with such health problems as muscle spasms and twitches, sleep disturbances, hypoglycemia, headaches, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, attention deficit disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome just to name a few. Magnesium deficiency can also cause disruption in proper bowel function. There are studies tying this deficiency to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We have epidemic levels of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in this country. I see many of these issues in my office on a regular basis.
Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, avocado, bananas and dark chocolate are all good potential food sources of magnesium. It is very important that these foods are organically grown and eaten with minimal processing. Organic growing certifies that no chemical pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers were used and the soil is much healthier than conventional fields. Food processing can remove significant amounts of magnesium (and other nutrients) so eating the foods as close to raw as possible is best. Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats as well as magnesium and dark chocolate, in addition to being delicious, has many antioxidants. Fish can also be a good source of magnesium but be sure to avoid farmed fish and those varieties that are known to have high levels of mercury.
Magnesium supplements should not be taken by those individuals who have advanced cardiovascular disease or who have kidney disorders. The best magnesium form for supplementation is magnesium threonate but magnesium glycinate or citrate are also acceptable. Avoid products with magnesium stearate. Calcium and magnesium should be in a 1:1 ratio in the body and the literature suggests that proper magnesium intake should be around 700 mg daily. It is important to maintain mineral balance with calcium and vitamin D3 and also to have good levels of Vitamin K2. Some magnesium supplements can cause loose stools so it is advisable to introduce the supplementation in a gradual manner until it reaches bowel tolerance which indicates a good level of supplementation.
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