If you are one of the many suffering from muscle cramping, joint pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, numbness, tingling, fatigue, attention deficits, and poor sleep you may have low magnesium. Many people suffer from these symptoms but cannot see improvement with exercise, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, personal training or any combination of the above. Diet is often the last thing people attempt to change however this may be the key to changing your symptoms. A simple blood screen may lead doctors to identify deficiencies in vitamin and minerals that can lead to systemic problems. One of the most common mistakes in the interpretation of a blood panel is that a person may be vitamin D deficient but are actually deficient in magnesium. Let’s take a brief scientific side trail:
Vitamin D is produced in the skin via the sun and circulates in the blood until it gets to our liver (not just used for processing alcohol). The liver then converts Vitamin D to Calcidiol which is then moved to the kidneys. The kidneys then use magnesium to convert Calcidiol into a usable form called Calcitriol which is used to regulate calcium and phosphate. If we don’t have magnesium, we can’t use the Vitamin D we absorb so our blood panel may show we lack vitamin D even though we’ve been roasting in the sun for hours a day.
What else does magnesium do?
- Magnesium and Zinc interact to metabolize fat, carbohydrates, and proteins
- Magnesium and Potassium interact to improve nerve conduction, muscle strength, muscle relaxation, and GI tract function
- Magnesium promotes absorption of B6 in the liver to release energy from cabs, break down fats and protein, and help the brain produce dopamine and serotonin
- Magnesium is needed to produce Parathyroid Hormone which regulates calcium to increase muscle tension
The difficult part with magnesium deficiency is it may test normal in a blood panel but may be moderate to severely low at the cellular level, but why are we so low in magnesium? There is less magnesium in the soil than there once was, diets high in fat and protein (meat heavy) interfere with calcium and magnesium absorption, calcium in dairy is absorbed more readily in the GI tract than magnesium, cooking food can lower magnesium levels, stress reduces magnesium levels, sugar in food depletes magnesium, and phosphates in soft drinks and lunch meats bind with magnesium and cause it to pass through the body without being absorbed. SUGAR, SODA, AND PROCESSED FOODS DEPLETE MAGNESIUM!!
So how do we increase our Magnesium levels? In many cases, through natural, whole foods are the best way to improve vitamin and mineral levels. Not so fast with magnesium. Remember how magnesium competes with calcium (and loses) in the GI system leading to magnesium passing through without absorbing. If you take magnesium in the form of a pill, only 50% of the magnesium is absorbed…. Hmmm. Magnesium Sulfate or Epsom Salt is the MOST effective way to take in magnesium and it doesn’t even have to pass through the GI system, it goes straight into the body via the skin and can be done by a simple foot bath for about 20 minutes per day using 1 cup of magnesium per gallon of water!
Soak it up everyone!
For more information on Magnesium and other related topics, check out Taming Pain by Cheryl Wardlaw