If you aren’t getting enough magnesium, your body will let you know about it. The question is, will you recognise and attribute those symptoms to magnesium deficiency?
You may find that you have muscle cramps, spasms and twitching, low quality sleep, anxiety, chronic pain, hyperactivity, and facial tics, to name a few. Magnesium deficiency, known as hypomagnesaemia, is very common. Studies have concluded that less than thirty percent of people get the recommended daily amount of magnesium, so if you have any of these symptoms, magnesium deficiency could be the reason.
The above symptoms may be neurological signs of magnesium deficiency. Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and sometimes depression. Magnesium is also vital for the formation of cells and bone, production of energy, metabolism of nutrients.
Unfortunately it is not always easy to detect magnesium levels effectively through blood tests; in fact, magnesium deficiency can show up as a calcium deficiency in tests, which leads to Doctors recommending you supplement calcium. However, supplementing magnesium is better as this will regulate the calcium better, rather than pouring in too much calcium and negatively impacting your magnesium stores even further. Therefore it may be necessary to assess your diet and state of vitality in order to determine whether you are deficient.
pH health have some recommendations about what to look out for, and what to avoid, in order to maintain sufficient magnesium stores and stay healthy:
Drop caffeinated, carbonated, alcoholic and diuretic drinks
The kidneys have a lot of control over magnesium levels in the body, as they filter and excrete minerals. Caffeine influences the kidneys so that they excrete more of the magnesium in your body than they should, and alcohol and diuretics lower the amount of available magnesium for your cells in the same way. All of these drinks are ‘anti-magnesium’ and should be avoided, especially if your magnesium levels are already insufficient. Furthermore, drinks like these can be highly acidic, leading to chronic health problems.
A lot of carbonated drinks contain phosphates. This is especially so for the darker-coloured drinks, like Coke. The problem with these kinds of drinks is that the phosphates bind to the magnesium in your body, so that it is no longer ‘bioavailable’; in other words, your body can’t use it – even when you’ve been supplementing it, or eating lots in food.
Avoid eating sweets and cakes
At pH health, we are always reiterating this point: human beings should steer well clear of refined sugar. It is another detrimental foodstuff that removes magnesium from the body; this toxic substance forces the excretion of magnesium through your kidneys. Magnesium is not the only nutrient that refined sugar can subvert in your body; it should be avoided at all costs. It has such a negative impact on your health that we’d need to write an entire blog to explain why.
Watch out for negative interactions with calcium
Supplementing calcium can have a negative impact on your levels of magnesium, whereas the opposite is true when supplementing magnesium: it enhances your body’s ability to utilise the calcium effectively. Supplementing calcium can be a bad idea if your body is low on magnesium in the first place, as the calcium supplements may actually decrease the amount of magnesium absorbed by your body. There is also a risk of developing arterial calcification if your magnesium levels are consistently low but you supplement a lot of calcium.
Although calcium and magnesium work together well, they also have opposing functions. For example, calcium causes muscle contractions, whereas magnesium encourages muscle relaxation; for this reasons alone it is important to get your calcium/magnesium balance right.
Despite there being evidence that how much of both supplements you need to take is unique to you, it is generally accepted that a taking an equal amount of calcium and magnesium assists bone health and protects from disease.
Look out for muscle contractions and spasms
Without magnesium in our bodies, our muscles would be permanently contracted, which would be obviously be demobilizing and painful. If you are having muscle spasms, tics or contractions like cramp, you may not have enough magnesium in your body.
Pay more attention to symptoms as you age
Magnesium tends to deplete in older people. Stress and disease also draw on our stores of magnesium, and metabolism of this important mineral can become less effective with age. This deficiency contributes to stroke risk and heart health problems, so in older age it is more important than ever to make sure you have enough magnesium.
pH health recommend that anyone over fifty who is showing signs of magnesium deficiency should consider supplementing, and take a close look at the diet to see how more magnesium-rich foods can be incorporated.
Long term magnesium deficiency can be very dangerous to our health. One way to combat it is to supplement. Magnesium chloride is the best possible magnesium supplement, whereas other forms of magnesium like magnesium stearate are best avoided as they negatively impact health. Transdermal supplements are best; they are applied to the skin and can bypass the digestive system, meaning that they can get straight to the cells with no side effects. Magnesium chloride also aids digestion and vitamin absorption well.