Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body-especially for those with fibromyalgia. There are several risk factors that can contribute to your magnesium deficiency. See what changes you can make in your daily routine and diet to stabilize your magnesium levels to pursue pain-free health. Magnesium also plays a significant role in regulating the neurotransmitters. A deficiency can cause muscle pain, joint pain, headache, fatigue, depression, leg cramps, high blood pressure, heart disease and arrhythmia, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, hair loss, confusion, personality disorders, swollen gums, and loss of appetite. High intake of calcium may reduce magnesium absorption.
Simple sugars and/or stress can cause depletion. Magnesium is also responsible for proper enzyme activity and transmission of muscle and nerve impulses, and aids in maintaining a proper pH balance. It helps metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy. Magnesium also helps synthesize the genetic material in cells and helps to remove toxic substances, such as aluminum and ammonia, from the body. Magnesium and calcium help keep the heart beating; magnesium relaxes the heart, and calcium activates it. A deficiency of magnesium, then, may increase the risk of heart disease.
Magnesium is a natural sedative and can be used to treat muscle spasm, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and constipation. It is also a potent antidepressant. It helps with intermittent claudication, a condition caused by a restriction of blood flow to the legs. It’s effective in relieving some of the symptoms associated with PMS, and women suffering from PMS are usually deficient in it.
New studies are validating what many nutrition-oriented physicians have known for years: a magnesium deficiency can trigger migraine headaches. Magnesium also helps relax constricted bronchial tubes associated with asthma. In fact, a combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium, along with avoidance of wheat and dairy products, has cured many of my young asthmatic patients. Unfortunately, dietary magnesium intake in this country is steadily declining. It has been consistently depleted in our soils and further depleted in plants by the use of potassium- and phosphorus containing fertilizers, which reduce a plant’s ability to uptake magnesium. Food processing also removes magnesium, while high-carbohydrate and high-fat diets increase the body’s need for it. Diuretic medications further deplete total body magnesium.
It is estimated that up to 80% of those with FMS/CFS are deficient in magnesium. What are some risk factors for magnesium deficiency?
- Excessive stress in your life whether from physical, emotional, or psychological stressors. Stressful conditions cause the body to use more magnesium and a lack of magnesium tends to make stress responses more severe. The hormones associated with stress, adrenaline and cortisol, were also associated with magnesium deficiency.
- Eating or drinking highly sugary products including those with artificial sugar. Refined sugar has no magnesium and actually causes your body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. In addition, these products also strip your body of many other highly essential nutrients and can leave you at risk for many health problems.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol also increases kidney excretion of magnesium. Alcohol also tends to lower the efficiency of your digestive tract and lower Vitamin D levels, which can further lower magnesium levels.
- Drinking caffeinated beverages. Caffeine works similarly to refined sugar in that it causes the kidneys to excrete magnesium.
- Taking diuretics, heart medications, asthma medication, birth control pills, or estrogen replacement therapy. These medications increase magnesium excretion through the kidneys and can lead to deficiency.
- Drinking dark-colored carbonated beverages. The phosphates contained in dark beverages bind with magnesium in the body to reduce your magnesium levels.
The RDA for magnesium is a paltry 300mg for females and 400mg for males. However, we are as different on the inside as we are on the outside-we are uniquely made and we so have different nutritional needs. One person with excellent stress coping mechanisms may find 300mg of magnesium to be adequate. Yet another person exposed to the same stressors and possessing poor stress coping skills, will need to take 700mg of magnesium to avoid the tell tale signs of deficiency-muscle cramps, Charlie horses, constipation, headaches, restless leg syndrome, etc.
I recommend my patients use a high dose optimal multi vitamin formula with at plenty of magnesium. Patients should build around the best multivitamin formula they can find, adding additional magnesium until have a loose bowel movement-then reduce the dose. Most fibro patients will need to be taking around 650-800mg of magnesium a day, preferably magnesium chelate, citrate, or glycinate-these are the most absorbable and best tolerated forms of magnesium.