Renowned expert in magnesium research, Prof. Dr. Jurgen Vormann, asks ''Is this the world's number one mineral deficiency?''
Magnesium is a mineral required by the body to facilitate about 300 biological functions and is a cofactor in more than 500 enzymatic reactions.
Further studies have estimated that ''up to a third of the general population may be magnesium deficient and that outside of acute clinical encounters or hospitalization, hypomagnesaemia is likely frequently overlooked in general clinical practice''. (Nutr Today. 2016;51 Adela Hruby, PhD, MPH & Nicola McKeown, PhD)
Optimal magnesium status is required for healthy ageing or anti-aging.
MAGNESIUM IS NEEDED FOR:
* Cellular energy production and the formation of ATP in the Krebs Cycle.
* Protein synthesis, nucleic acid formation (DNA) and mitochondrial function.
* Muscle contraction (including the heart muscle)
* Bone metabolism and teeth formation
* Neurological function
* Critical for activation of nerve channels involved in synaptic plasticity. This is fundamental to the process of learning and memory.
* Blood pressure regulation, and nerve function.
* Hormone balance - thyroid function, oestrogen detoxification and production of sex hormones
* Manufacture of Growth Hormone & DHEA
* Conversion of tryptophan to serotonin
WHY ARE WE SO DEFICIENT?
* Food processing and farming techniques contribute to poor magnesium levels in the soil. Monoculture, the process of growing a single annual crop reduces the health of the soil. Acid rain and heavier rainfalls also leach magnesium from the soil.
* Potash, used in fertiliser is easily taken up by the plants, but actually reduces the amount of magnesium absorbed by the plants.
* The widespread use of pesticides and herbicides disrupts the delicate bacterial and eco balance in the soil and worms and bacteria die instead of adding to the health of the soil.
* Over processed fast foods and a diet low in fresh fibre-rich plants does not help.
* Excessive amounts of alcohol and binge drinking reduce magnesium levels.
* High caffeine consumption may increase magnesium excretion.
* High sweat loss in athletes and high demand in muscles
* Medications such as laxatives, diuretics, proton pump inhibitors (heartburn medication), certain cancer drugs and antibiotics contribute to magnesium deficiency.
* Chronic elevated stress impacts the gut and may lead to decreased levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which results in malabsorption of magnesium. Taking PPI's to counter the effects of low stomach acid further increases magnesium loss.
* Gastrointestinal Disorders such as IBD, IBS, Crohn's.
* Inherited genetics can also influence out ability to absorb magnesium and vitamin D is another essential nutrient needed for magnesium absorption. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has only recently been highlighted in the general population.
* Gastrointestinal Disorders such as IBD, IBS, Crohn's.
DIETARY SOURCES OF MAGNESIUM INCLUDE:
Nuts & seeds
Sea vegetables- kelp, dulce. kombu, seaweed
Fish & seafood
Legumes- black beans, edamame beans, peanuts.
Leafy greens - spinach & broccoli. Although, oxalic acid found in spinach, rhubarb, and swiss chard may also block the absorption of magnesium.
MILD SYMPTOMS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY
* Nausea or vomiting
* Decreased appetite
* Brain fog & poor concentration
* Reduced ability to recover from exercise
* Fatigue & muscle weakness
* Muscle twitches and cramps
* Vitamin D resistance
* Sleep loss
SEVERE SYMPTOMS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY
* Confusion & Disorientation & memory loss
* Muscle cramping- shoulders, thighs, calves, feet
* Cardiac arrhythmias
* Urinary tract cramps
* Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
* Depressed immune response
* Hearing loss
* Heart failure
For reasons discussed, its difficult to obtain optimal amounts of magnesium from diet alone. Blood tests to obtain serum magnesium levels are potentially flawed and the results do not offer an accurate result.
Your body stores about half of its magnesium in tissue cells and organs, the other half combines with calcium and is stored in your bones. This only leaves a small percentage of free magnesium in your blood. Magnesium also works hand in hand with calcium. Magnesium is held inside the cells in high amounts and this helps to keep calcium outside of the cells. What happens when there is insufficient magnesium? Taking calcium supplements and plenty of dairy based foods without enough magnesium, further disrupts your cellular balance.
'' The underestimated problem of using serum magnesium measurements to exclude magnesium deficiency in adults; a health warning is for 'normal' results''
'' The inaccuracy of serum magnesium as a biomarker for negative stores, although well known among laboratorians, is not widely disseminated nor emphasized to clinicians. Based on literature over the past two decades, magnesium deficiency remains common and undervalued''
Ismail, Yasmin et al.(Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine 2010)
TYPES OF MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS
The most bioavailable source of magnesium is magnesium citrate. The least bioavailable (and cheapest) is magnesium oxide. Gut absorption is about 4% and I would not recommend using it. Also avoid taking a supplement that combines calcium with magnesium.
Optimal dosage per day- 400mg, but this dosage may need to be higher in certain individuals.
Magnesium citrate is bound to citric acid, an acid found naturally in fruit. This form of magnesium should be taken on an empty stomach with a full glass of water. When the mg citrate reaches the small intestine, it attracts water which helps to stimulate bowel motility. This is useful for constipation.
Magnesium glycinate is bound to the amino acid glycine. Glycine may benefit individuals suffering from poor sleep and anxiety. Glycine has multiple roles in many metabolic reactions. Take with a large glass of water 1-2 hours before bed.
Magnesium chloride is a magnesium salt that includes chloride. The addition of chloride helps to produce hydrochloric acid in the stomach which is important with individuals with low stomach acid. Low stomach acid is very common in the elderly and individuals with GI issues.
Magnesium L-Threonate is able to cross the blood-brain-barrier and may increase the density of synapses, the essential communication network between brain cells. Loss of synapse density is associated with age related cognitive decline and brain shrinkage. Studies have demonstrated improvements in speed and performance on a battery of cognitive tests in adult rats with mild cognitive impairment. ( Lui G et al J Alzheimers Dis. 2016)
So if you feel as though you fall into any of those risk categories for magnesium deficiency, choose your ideal supplement and make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy and sustainable amount of fresh foods.