How Magnesium Helps You Stay Healthy

Mag symbolMagnesium has only recently gotten the recognition it deserves as being critical to optimal health.  Sadly, nearly 2/3 of the global population is Magnesium-deficient.  You need magnesium for many tasks. It's involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Muscles need this mineral to contract; nerves need it to send and receive messages. It keeps your heart beating steadily and your immune system strong. Most people can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish.

With Magnesium we can alleviate many common problems like muscle pain, insomnia, migraines, menstrual pain, and depression.  Magnesium is as much of a food to the body as wheat, rice, or any meat.  One can potentially prevent and treat cancer, diabetes and help children recover from autism when Magnesium is appropriately used transdermally or orally.

Magnesium is a potent mineral, is safe and incredibly fast-acting.  In an age of toxicity, where we're being poisoned by the chemical in the air we breathe, the water we drink the foods we eat, the surfaces we touch, and the medicines we take.  We need more nutritional agents to help maintain optimal health.

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Magnesium and Sexual Health

Magnesium and Men's Sexual HealthMagnesium is usually associated with bone health (along with calcium) and supporting cardiovascular function, yet this mineral is actually necessary for more than 300 biochemical processes in the body. Let's focus on some of the reasons magnesium is important for men’s health.

Magnesium Boosts Levels of Testosterone

In a study published in Biological Trace Element Research, a team of investigators reported that men who took magnesium supplements (10 mg/kg body weight) daily for four weeks experienced a rise in both free and total testosterone levels.

Magnesium & Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction can be a complicated problem involving many factors such as advancing age, prostate problems, being overweight, heavy drug and alcohol use, smoking, and frequent long-distance cycling.   Erectile dysfunction has so many possible causes that men who are affected are often too quick to resort to prescription medications like Cialis and Viagra.  Magnesium deficiency has been linked to erectile dysfunction, says James Rouse, N.D., a well-known naturopathic physician. Magnesium is needed for the metabolism of nitric oxide which helps get and maintain an erection. 

Magnesium & The Libido

Did  you know that your sex drive affects your entire well being! A healthy sex life results in hormone-balancing power.  Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a chronically low sex drive. Magnesium helps in the production of sex hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate the “urge” to have sex. Magnesium makes it harder for your testosterone to bind onto proteins and allows for more of it to remain “free” in your bloodstream – which is exactly how you want it to be for a higher sex drive. Higher levels of free testosterone makes for more desire. This mineral also has documented aphrodisiac effects, which can improve your libido and sexual performance. It also promotes muscle strength and endurance … two important factors when it comes to a sustainable sex life.

These are just a few of the amazing benefits of Magnesium for men.

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Magnesium and Stress

Magnesium and StressAny way you slice it, we live in a world full of stressors.  Whether it's about money, relationships, your job or your family, living in a state of constant stress effects you emotionally and physically.  Let's start with the impact on your adrenal glands.  Your adrenal glands work like a sink.  When you are under stress, they turn on.  When you are not stressed, they turn off.  If you are under constant stress, your adrenal glands never turn off and eventually your sink will overflow.

Your adrenal glands are responsible for the production of your stress hormones (among others).   Magnesium can be a powerful and natural stress reliever.  A deficiency in magnesium actually causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to elevate. Stress, in turn, also depletes magnesium levels in the body. When this happens, your body’s natural balance falls out of tune, and all your other hormones can be affected as a result. Maintaining optimal magnesium levels is one way to prevent stress from taking over and wreaking havoc on that natural balance which is essential fora healthy and functioning reproductive system. 

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Magnesium and Sports Injuries

Magnesium has a particular role in muscular health and recovery. Researchers studying marathon runners found magnesium to be the most highly depleted electrolyte in athletes. 

Magnesium and Sports InjuriesBananas are an abundant food source of both magnesium and potassium, as well as being a conveniently portable high-energy snack - no wonder this year's Wimbledon (2018) saw the total consumption of almost 5,000 pounds of bananas by players!  Magnesium, for athletes especially, is a vital mineral required for the mechanism of muscle relaxation to occur.

With a lack of magnesium, our muscles would remain in a permanent state of contraction, which is why this mineral is a particularly important consideration for athletes and the fitness community.  Beyond the matter of muscular function, magnesium is a powerful anti-inflammatory mineral offering protection against illnesses such as arthritis

As exercise leads to the natural depletion of trace minerals in the body, replenishing magnesium lost during exercise can aid muscle recovery and negate potential soreness and aches after an intensive work out. Sports drinks contain magnesium, and certain mineral waters contain a trace amount of the mineral. 

Magnesium is lost in sweat in concentrations that may be higher than those in the blood; therefore, magnesium deficiency is a matter of concern in athletes since they lose large amounts of sweat, especially during summer. Furthermore, magnesium deficiency is often proposed as a cause of exercise-induced muscle cramps.

It is not only cramps that are caused by magnesium deficiency, but back, neck and joint pain may also occur. In a 2008 study, researchers reported that participants who used magnesium, reduced their chronic lower back pain by 49%. This study highlighted the association between magnesium deficiency and chronic joint pain since magnesium deficiency causes muscle tension and spasm. 

Magnesium not only works to relax muscles but also draws inflammation out of muscles and tendons. When a muscle is injured it will contract and tighten to protect itself. This results to decreased mobility and increased pain during normal movement. Adequate magnesium intake contributes to the muscle’s full relaxation so that it can begin healing and you can eventually gain back its function.  

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Forms of Magnesium - Removing the Cloud of Confusion

There are many different forms of Magnesium and understanding the difference can be quite confusing. The reason for this is because pure magnesium is not easily absorbed by the body, so it must be bound to a carrier substance.  The different carriers depend on the intended purpose and how bioavailable they are.  Bioavailability is the amount of magnesium that can be absorbed in your digestive system for your body to use. Here's a short primer to help you decide the best form for you.

Forms of Magnesium


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Who is at Risk for Magnesium Deficiency?

According to World Health Organization statistics, as much as 75% of the U.S. adult population does not meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Recommended Daily Intake of 420 mg.  A magnesium deficiency is not easy to evaluate. Simple serum tests for magnesium are highly ineffective because only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in the bloodstream. The remaining 99% is stored in the cells of the bones, muscles, and other tissues.  You probably wouldn't know except through symptoms.

Groups who are particularly at risk include:

  • Diabetics because of increased urinary excretion, decreased dietary intake, and increased need.
  • People who consume a diet high in pastries and other junk foods – which are basically devoid of magnesium.
  • Individuals who take medications that increase urinary magnesium loss – such as thiazide diuretics for blood pressure.
  • Individuals who have a vitamin D deficiency – according to some statistics 40% of U.S. adults – may also be magnesium deficient because magnesium is essential for the activation and metabolism of vitamin D.
  • People who are on long-term antibiotic use.
  • Individuals who have gastrointestinal conditions that decrease absorption or increase loss, such as chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea, Celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
  • Alcoholics because of poor nutritional status, chronic GI problems, and increased urinary loss.
  • Elderly individuals because of poor absorption, chronic disease, and long-term medication use.

If you fall into one of the categories above, be sure to take steps to start increasing the Magnesium levels in your body. 

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Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium is an extremely important mineral.  It's involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body and helps you maintain good health.  Unfortunately, many people don't reach the recommended daily intake of 400 mg.  However, eating foods high in magnesium can help you meet the daily requirement.

There are many foods that you can incorporate into your diet to ensure robust levels of magnesium including:

  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 85% cacao content) & Raw Cacao
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Yogurt or Kefir, full-fat
  • Almonds
  • Black Beans
  • Figs
  • Bananas
  • Cashews
  • Goat cheese

By just incorporating some of these foods on a daily basis, you can begin to improve the Magnesium levels in your body. 


 

Transdermal Magnesium Therapy for Sports Injuries

An option which is gaining strong popularity in the sporting and fitness community is to replenish magnesium using topical products. Transdermal products such as bath salts, lotions, and sprays allow magnesium to be absorbed instantly into the skin for immediate assimilation by the muscles. This is an excellent choice, particularly for those without an existing long-term magnesium deficiency, who wish solely to aid muscle recovery after intensive sports and exercise.

Magnesium Bath Salts

Bathing in magnesium salts supports muscle recovery on two levels, efficiently utilizing the dual benefits of immersive heat therapy and the replenishment of depleted magnesium stores from exercise-induced electrolyte loss. This is why Epsom salts are such an important bathroom and locker-room staple of many professional athletes and dancers. Epsom salts are widely accessible from pharmacies, and magnesium bath flakes are readily available online.

Magnesium Sprays and Lotions
Increasingly some athletes have made a topical magnesium spray or lotion part of their sports kit, utilising it for efficient assimilation into the bloodstream, effectively negating the effects of muscle strain and tension after exercise. As with magnesium salt baths, this method immediately replenishes the body, but with the added time-saving convenience and portability of the product.

The use of a topical magnesium product is particularly beneficial for those undergoing intensive weight training - such as bodybuilders - and those undertaking sports involving short periods of sprinting. Both activities have a particular tendency to cause shortening and bulking of the muscles, which causes heightened stress to them. Replenishing magnesium can help negate soreness and tightness associated with intensive muscle stress.

Magnesium is a vital mineral and ensuring your requirements are met is necessary to optimum health. Boosting your intake of magnesium via nutritional and topical means can aid muscle recovery after exercise, negate post-exercise muscular discomfort, and therefore can potentially assist muscular recovery and boost athletic performance. 

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Magnesium and Pregnancy

Magnesium and PregnancyWhile remaining replete in magnesium is beneficial to fertility, addressing magnesium deficiency prior to conception can also be crucial to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. One of the most immediately obvious ways a healthy magnesium intake can help is by keeping your cortisol levels under control. If your cortisol is allowed to spike, your insulin levels also increase and your blood sugar drops. One of the symptoms of plummeting blood sugar is nausea and vomiting; the morning sickness so many pregnant women dread. Magnesium can help to prevent and ease some of those symptoms, so long as you don’t allow your body to become deficient.

Even more importantly, however, is the role magnesium plays in your baby’s overall health. Being deficient in magnesium has been tied to an increased risk of miscarriages, as well as sudden infant death syndrome, fetal growth retardation, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and premature labor. This is a nutrient which will prove to be essential far beyond the trying to conceive stage you may now be in, with lasting implications to both your fertility and the eventual development of a healthy fetus. 

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Signs of Magnesium Deficiency Might YOU Be?

Magnesium is critical to your body functioning at its optimum levels.  When you are deficient health challenges could potentially occur.

Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, tiredness, and weakness.   As the deficiency worsens, symptoms may include:

  • Lower calcium levels in the blood, known as hypocalcemia
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Cramps and muscle contractions
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Coronary spasms
Prolonged magnesium deficiency can have an adverse impact on a person's long-term health and increase the risk of chronic diseases, including:

Anyone who experiences any of the above symptoms should see a doctor for tests to see if Magnesium deficiency is the cause. 

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Why is Magnesium Deficiency So Common?

There are many reasons why Magnesium deficiency is prevalent throughout the world.  These are the main reasons:

Soil Depletion

Soil depletion is sapping the nutrients and minerals that are in the fruits and vegetables that are on your plate.  “Ever since humans developed agriculture, we’ve been transforming the planet and throwing the soil’s nutrient cycle out of balance,” says Ronald Amundson, a University of California-Berkeley professor who co-authored a 2015 study on soil depletion. “Because the changes happen slowly, often taking two to three generations to be noticed, people are not cognizant of the geological transformation taking place.”  Nutrients in food being impaired by soil depletion include protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid, according to a study published in 2004 by University of Texas at Austin researchers. The study relied on data about 43 garden crops spanning five decades (1950 to 1999). Other nutrients that could be compromised by soil depletion, but weren’t part of the study, include magnesium, zinc, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E.

Digestive Disorders

Digestive Disorders - Magnesium DeficiencyDigestive disorders lead to malabsorption of magnesium and other minerals.  For example, low stomach acid can be a factor in magnesium deficiency. One third to 1/2 of the magnesium found in foods is absorbed by the body in the small intestine. Foods high in sugar and fats are difficult for the stomach to digest. If the stomach fails to produce enough digestive acid, these foods leave the stomach without being fully digested and the intestines are unable to absorb nutrients. These foods have an additive effect on magnesium deficiency when they result in acid reflux, or indigestion. Indigestion is frequently treated with antacids, which act by neutralizing stomach acid. Overuse of antacids can weaken the acidity of digestive fluids, reducing the effectiveness of the stomach acid and resulting in more poorly digestive foods entering the intestines.  Leaky gut syndrome, ongoing diarrhea, Chrone's disease are also contributors.

Prescription Medication

Medications, including over-the-counter drugs, deplete your body of critical nutrients. This exacerbates the existing problem most Americans suffer from—a nutrient deficiency.  While medications are effective at relieving symptoms, they deplete viable nutrients our bodies need in order to heal. Even worse, they may generate unintended consequences from these nutrient losses, which leads to more prescriptive medications being prescribed, creating a vicious cycle.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption has a direct impact on Magnesium deficiency.  First, alcohol acts acutely as a Magnesium diuretic, causing a prompt, vigorous increase in the urinary excretion of this metal along with that of certain other electrolytes. Second, with chronic intake of alcohol and development of alcoholism the body stores of Magnesium become depleted.

Take as many precautions as possible to avoid the situations that might put you at risk of Magnesium deficiency.

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