By Paul Fassa
Magnesium is an underrated, virtually ignored mineral for our diets, yet it is the most crucial, and essential to over 300 bodily biochemical and cellular metabolic processes. It has been called the "Master Mineral" because of its central importance to so many cellular functions and proper body glucose balance. Because of poor topsoil conditions and poor eating habits, almost everyone is magnesium deficient to some extent.
The mineral that gets the most attention for supplementation is calcium. Yet without magnesium, calcium synthesis into bones and teeth is drastically impaired. Cardiovascular and neurological issues are also prone to surface. It's estimated that most people have a ratio of calcium to magnesium at 3 to 1 or higher, but the ideal ratio is close to 2 to 1, actually 10 to 4. In other words, your body should have about half as much magnesium as calcium.
So How Do You Know If You Are Low?
All the symptoms related to magnesium deficiency can overlap with other health issues. So it is confusing to determine magnesium deficiency by symptoms alone.
Weakness, inappropriate fatigue, irritability, muscle spasms or twitches, muscle aches, light or sound sensitivity, chronic constipation, and "restless leg syndrome", where either the legs or arms have weird sensations that can only be relieved by often changing their position, are usually directly related to magnesium deficiency.
Indirectly, fibromyalgia, arrhythmia and other heart conditions, asthma, and hypertension along with high blood pressure can also be at least partly due to insufficient magnesium in our cells. And within the cells is where the action is, with magnesium as a catalyst and synthesis agent for approximately 80% of our biochemical processes.
That's why Dr. Otis Woodward, MD, a holistic physician, recommends a red blood cell (RBC) test over a simple blood test to determine magnesium levels. It can look good in your blood, but if it is not in your cells you won't get the benefits. RBC testing is not as good as white blood cell testing, but it is easier to obtain, less expensive, and sufficient.
Applied kinesiology or muscle testing by a skilled holistic healer can also help determine your need for magnesium. But let's face it, if your health can be better and your diet is not so great, considering that almost everyone is magnesium deficient should motivate you to look into how to increase your magnesium level.
Increasing Your Magnesium Intake With Foods
Lots of sugar, processed table salt and processed foods, especially those made with bleached flour will deplete your magnesium by a sort of leeching process. So avoiding or minimizing that part of your diet will be a good start. You can replace processed table salt with real organic sea salt or Himalayan salt to eliminate the poisons inherent in table salt and add magnesium to your diet.
Stress is another magnesium burner. Indulging in some humor and handling stress by being more upbeat in general will help conserve your body's stored magnesium.
Vegetables with leafy greens, whole grains, many legumes including peanuts, and raw nuts are good sources of magnesium. But all is not so good with commercially grown agribusiness crops. It has been determined that organic crops contain up to 10 times the magnesium of regular supermarket foods.
However, it's the depleted topsoil that is the problem. So organic should include that the crops are rotated and the topsoil is regenerated for optimum mineral and magnesium content. Simply not spraying with pesticides does little to improve the topsoil.
Sugar cane roots go much deeper than topsoil and those roots have access to minerals not available in the topsoil. Ironically, the "waste" from processing table sugar produces a super food for minerals known as black strap molasses. The unsulphured variety is the best. Mostly known for its high iron content, unsulphured black strap molasses is also high in magnesium.
Another super food very high in magnesium is fulvic (not folic) acid. A good fulvic acid liquid is said to contain all the minerals and elements a body needs. Fulvic acid minerals in solution are purported to be highly bioavailable.
Remember the leafy greens suggestion? At the core of chlorophyll is magnesium. So any of the super foods that are green, such as spirulina and especially chlorella, are high in magnesium as well as other nutrients. Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, recommends 10 grams of spirulina or 5 grams of chlorella daily. It's easier, more absorbable, and more economical if you use the powdered form mixed in a suitable liquid of your choice.
Since most of us who grew up on processed and agribusiness non-organic foods have impaired digestive systems, it is suggested by most health experts that you include some sort of digestive aid to increase the bioavailibility of the magnesium in those foods and super foods.
Investigate probiotic sources or high intestinal flora kefirs and kombuchas to see what suits your fancy and budget. You can even make your own kefir or kombucha, or use sauerkraut that is home made with organic foods. There is a tasty Korean dish known as Kimchi for a daily diet to enhance probiotic production in your intestinal tract.
Supplements, an Adjunct, and Extreme Measures
Of course there are supplements as well. The better ones are in powdered form to be dissolved in water or juice. Often they are in conjunction with calcium. So make sure the ratio is around 2 to 1 calcium to magnesium. If your diet is high in calcium sources, using just magnesium as a supplement or a cal/mag with a lower ratio is recommended. Magnesium oxide is not as endorsed by doctors and holistic healers as much as magnesium citrate or magnesium citrate malate. Read your labels.
Holistic physicians often use magnesium injections or intravenous feeds for patients with severe deficiency problems. They will then prescribe oral magnesium supplementation along with vitamin B6 as an adjunct when that intense therapeutic event is completed. If you add B6 to your oral supplementation of magnesium, it is recommended that you include a full B complex supplement to prevent a B vitamin imbalance.
NOTE: Important Caveats!
People with kidney and heart problems are advised against magnesium supplementation unless they consult a physician. Also, magnesium supplements tend to be alkaline, so too much of the magnesium supplements can impair digestion unless tempered with organic apple cider vinegar in water. Otherwise, too much alkaline can lead to poor absorption and disrupt your pH balance. Dr. Len Horowitz recommends fresh lime or lemon squeezed into your water to cheaply maintain pH balance. Even too much of the transdermal applications listed below can alter your skin's pH balance. This caveat does not apply to food and super food sources.
Transdermal Applications You Can Do Yourself
Transdermal simply means applied to unbroken skin, as creams and lotions are. This implies that you may ensure bioavailability of the magnesium regardless of any digestive impediments. Lately, magnesium oils have sprouted onto the health supplement market that can simply be applied to your skin. The body then absorbs the magnesium through the skin where it is applied.
If you prefer sitting and soaking over standing and showering, you are in luck for increasing your magnesium intake. Magnesium salts are available for your bath.
A more available and economical transdermal source of magnesium is Epsom salt. Yes, you can soak in Epsom salts to ease your aches and pains while absorbing magnesium through your skin. Epsom salt is essentially magnesium sulfate. Two cups of Epsom salt in a standard sized bathtub, soaking for 12 minutes three times a week should be sufficient.
Again, it is advised to stay within that protocol and not exceed it.
Magnesium Needs To Be Nurtured
Awareness of your magnesium level and what you're doing for it are more essential to good health than is commonly realized. It is also essential to the synthesis of glutathione, which is considered the master antioxidant that controls all other antioxidants!