Magnesium Deficiency – A Growing Epidemic

July 9th, 2013 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Magnesium is a vital micro-mineral that is essential to the total health of the human body. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and is instrumental in more than 300 metabolic functions necessary to human health. Unfortunately, more than half of all American adults are suffering from a magnesium deficiency. The modern western diet, with its reliance on unnatural processed foods, has created a near epidemic of people suffering from a deficiency of this vital mineral. Low levels of magnesium in the blood stream can lead to a host of conditions, and left unchecked can present a serious health risk.

What Magnesium Does for Your Body

Magnesium is an extremely versatile mineral, and it plays many roles in the total health of the body, including:

  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Maintaining optimal insulin levels
  • Strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis
  • Preventing strokes and congestive heart failure
  • Preventing kidney stones
  • Lowering bad cholesterol levels
  • Reduces the instances of migraine headaches
  • Promotes healthy circulation
  • Protects against asthma and emphysema

Causes and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

A magnesium deficiency is most commonly the result of poor diet and nutrition. As highly processed foods force fresh fruits and vegetables off the national dinner table, more and more people are suffering from unhealthy nutritional imbalances. In rare cases, magnesium deficiency can have other causes such as kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cancer or alcohol abuse.

Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency often goes undiagnosed. More often than not the symptoms end up being attributed to an unconnected disease, and patients receive treatment that does not address the very real underlying nutritional cause. Because magnesium is vital to a wide range of bodily functions, the symptoms of chronic deficiency are many and varied. The most common symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression, anxiety, and/or a loss of mental agility
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache, backache, and muscle soreness

Treating Magnesium Deficiency

While a magnesium deficiency can be the cause of many health concerns, it can easily be corrected by making some key lifestyle changes. The first step is to eliminate the highly processed foods that make up so much of the American diet. Foods that are full of refined sugars and flour have had the magnesium removed, and provide little if any nutritional value. Transitioning to a largely vegetarian diet, with an emphasis on organically grown fruits and vegetables, is the first step to restoring magnesium levels to normal. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are good sources of magnesium. Likewise, beans, lentils, and avocados provide a rich source of natural magnesium. Adding probiotics to the diet will help the body absorb magnesium, maximizing the effect of any dietary changes.

Over the counter magnesium supplements can be taken by those who find it difficult to get the proper amounts from their diet. However, these should be taken sparingly and carefully monitored. The body welcomes natural sources of magnesium, but man made supplements can lead to an overabundance of magnesium in the blood stream. This can lead to an overdose, causing nausea, cramps and diarrhea. Diet should always be the preferred method of boosting magnesium levels in the body, and it is important to observe the recommended daily allowances. The recommended daily allowance of magnesium for women aged 14 and up ranges from 320 mg to 360 mg, while the recommended daily allowance for men in the same age group ranges from 400 mg to 420 mg.

Magnesium plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy and operating at optimal efficiency. When magnesium levels are low, the body is more likely to suffer from chronic disorders. While magnesium deficiency is a widespread problem in American adults, treatment is relatively easy. Through diet and nutrition it is possible to restore the body’s magnesium levels and maintain the body’s optimal health.

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