Magnesium Overview, Health Benefits, Source Food, Deficiency, Side effects
Magnesium is a mineral that is present in relatively large amounts in the body. Researchers estimate that the average person’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and about half of that is in the bones. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly. People get magnesium from their diet, but sometimes magnesium supplements are needed if magnesium levels are too low. Dietary intake of magnesium may be low, particularly among women.
Magnesium is extremely important for your health because it is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is fourth most prevalent mineral in the body and is partially responsible for countless aspects good, sound health. Roughly 50% of our body’s total magnesium is stored in our bones, while the remaining part of magnesium is predominantly found in the cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is available in blood, although the human body is very good at regulating a constant level of magnesium in the blood.
Every organ in the body -- especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys -- needs the mineral magnesium. It also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels, as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.
Causes and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Nerve impulse conduction is often increased by low levels of magnesium in the body fluids, as this situation results in the speeding up of nerve impulses - thus low levels of magnesium can directly increase muscular irritability and contractibility in the body. Physical symptoms such as persistent muscle tremors, the uncontrolled movements in the hands and the face, as well as convulsions can often affect the person if there is a severe deficiency of magnesium in the body.
An imbalance in the metabolism of calcium can also result during a magnesium deficiency, with the consequent deposition of the mineral in the soft tissues of the body. In such situations, it is also common for bone deformities to develop in the person. There are other long term effects of persistent magnesium deficiency which include degeneration of the kidneys and renal tissues, degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle, as well as degeneration of the endocardium, the skin and the teeth. Magnesium deficiency can also directly affect the blood levels of other ions like calcium and potassium and the level of these ions in the body is often depressed. There is a resultant accumulation of large quantities of the mineral sodium in the tissues, and this often results in edema. At the same time, it is important to remember that local tissue deficiencies of magnesium can come about even without the actual blood levels of the mineral falling below what is normal -this situation can lead to the development of physical symptoms that are hard to pinpoint.
The ability of animals to adapt to cold conditions can be lowered if they are deficient in magnesium. The physical symptoms seen in animals' deficient in magnesium include ulceration, the calcification of the kidney and resultant stone formation, a reduction in lifespan, impaired functioning of the heart and blood vessels as well as damage to the heart. Rats tested in the laboratory showed a reduced motivation to learn during some experiments related to magnesium deficiency; the deficiency also induced seizures in the rats. Only animals which were forced to perform in order to survive showed the normal levels of activity and motivation. The deficiency largely impacted voluntary activity in the test animals and did not have as much of an effect over involuntary actions.
Many different physical symptoms are caused by magnesium deficiency in the human body. These include persistent lethargy, generalized muscular weakness, and knotting of muscle and nerve fibers - called fasciculation, the sudden onset of gross tremors, problems like tetany, sudden writhing movements in the hands, mental and physical irritability, sudden mental changes, muscular convulsions, constant stupor, coma, spells of dizziness, as well as psychotic behavior. Symptoms may also include an exaggeration of the reflex actions, muscle jerks and seizures. Magnesium deficiency affecting babies and children can induce a complete loss of appetite, a failure to grow and impaired development, the presence of a generalized apathy, the presence of muscular irritability, hallucinations and mental confusion, generalized weakness and flaccidity in the body, occasional spasticity and rigidity in the body, the onset of muscular tremors, twitches, as well as sleep apnea - a condition where breathing stops suddenly, and the rapid increase in pulse rate. The hypothetical connection between sudden infant death syndrome and magnesium deficiency has also been suggested by some of the researchers and clinical scientists working on magnesium deficiency in humans.
Magnesium deficiency also often induces the condition called as neonatal tetany - exhibited as muscular convulsions, even if the major bio-chemical symptoms seem to suggest the low levels of calcium in the circulating blood. Injected magnesium supplements often alleviates the condition in such infants better than calcium, this is supposedly because the magnesium deficiency in the body is said to cause a very severe drop in the blood levels of calcium - these two minerals are thus connected bio-chemically and have a joint effect on the body. The metabolism of calcium in the body is again influenced to a great extent by magnesium. Supplements of magnesium can often alleviate cases of the rickets in children, if large doses of the vitamin D have not been able to bring positive results.
People who use potassium-depleting prescription medications often suffer from a deficiency of the mineral magnesium as a side effect. A magnesium deficiency can also become established in people who use too many laxatives. The other potential causes of magnesium deficiency include long term alcoholism, injuries from severe burns, long term diabetes and heart failure.
Magnesium deficiency has been detected in almost two-thirds of all people in some intensive care hospital units in the United States. The onset of chronic diarrhea, severe pancreatitis and other disorders connected to malabsorption have also been linked to a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency can also cause long term physical fatigue, abnormality in heart rhythms, a generalized muscle weakness as well as muscular spasms, it can induce long term depression, it can bring on loss of appetite, it can also cause listlessness and depletion in the levels of the mineral potassium.
As some serious symptoms associated with deficiency of magnesium can be quite serious and may require intravenous administration of magnesium supplements, they should be treated by medical doctors preferably in a hospital environment or in a clinical setting.
When you are under stress, your body tends to quickly deplete its stores of magnesium. One very common symptom of magnesium deficiency is chocolate cravings, since chocolate is rich in this essential mineral. Magnesium deficiency can be a major cause behind diabetes, depression, and menopausal symptoms.
Good food sources of Magnesium
Some amount of magnesium is available in all natural foods. Natural sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, leafy vegetables such as spinach, and whole grains that are usually major components of a person’s regular diet. Some other vegetables that can be classified as rich magnesium sources include tomatoes, beet greens, broad beans, lima beans, artichokes, sweet potatoes, buckwheat flour, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, wheat flour, oat bran, barley, cornmeal and chocolate.
Magnesium is found in rather small amounts in meats, and all non-vegetarian foods are relatively poor in this mineral, even then magnesium is found in high amounts in shellfish. Most of the mineral magnesium found in grains and many different foods is eliminated after they are refined, for this reason, magnesium is found in rather small quantities in white flour, similarly all other refined grains are also poor sources for the mineral.
Water also has a high magnesium content; hard water has more magnesium than soft water, although hard water is not good for the body, especially the kidneys.
Health benefits of Magnesium
Health benefits of magnesium include the maintenance of bodily nerves, muscles and bones. It also helps in protein synthesis and cellular metabolism. Magnesium is vital for sustaining a normal heart beat and is used by doctors to treat irregularities in heart rhythm. Other health benefits of magnesium are its positive impact on reducing osteoporosis, eclamptic seizures, and maintenance of sugar level, as well as its positive effects on asthma, diabetes, constipation, back pain and various psychiatric disorders.
Medical and health specialists often highlight the importance of including adequate vitamin and mineral intake to our daily diet. Magnesium is one of those essential minerals that aids the human body in absorbing calcium and plays an important role in the formation and strengthening of teeth and bones.
Health benefits of Magnesium : prevents Asthma
Patients that suffer from chronic asthma may be able to normalize their breathing with the help of magnesium supplements that aid in relaxing the bronchial muscles and regulating breathing. Even wheezing and breathlessness can be relieved through administration of intravenous magnesium. A population based clinical study of more than 2,500 children 11 - 19 years of age found that low dietary magnesium intake may be associated with risk of asthma. The same was found in a group of more than 2,600 adults 18 - 70 years of age.
Health benefits of Magnesium for Osteoporosis
Not getting enough calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and other micronutrients may play a role in the development of osteoporosis. To prevent osteoporosis, it is important to get enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D; to eat a well balanced diet; and to do weight bearing exercises throughout life.
Health benefits of Magnesium for Essential during pregnancy
Magnesium is one of the vital elements to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Proper intake of magnesium supplements during pregnancy is extremely beneficial for reducing the risk of osteoporosis and increasing the pain tolerance level, thereby resulting in a smooth delivery process and an optimization of blood pressure. Magnesium sulfate is the best treatment for preventing eclamptic seizures in expectant mothers who may have hypertension.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Preeclampsia and eclampsia
Preeclampsia is characterized by a sharp rise in blood pressure during the third trimester of pregnancy. Women with preeclampsia may develop seizures, which is then called eclampsia. Magnesium, given in the hospital intravenously (IV), is the treatment of choice to prevent or treat seizures associated with eclampsia or to prevent complications from preeclampsia.
Health benefits of Magnesium for Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Scientific studies suggest that magnesium supplements may help relieve symptoms associated with PMS, particularly bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness. One study suggests that a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 may work better than either one alone.
Health benefits of Magnesium for Treating back pain and cramps
Magnesium helps treating people with severe backaches by relaxing back muscles, kidney stress and muscular tension. As mentioned earlier, magnesium also helps in the body’s absorption of calcium, which may lead to faster healing of the bones. Symptoms of cramps in the legs, as well as general fatigue are traditional symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Therefore, proper intake of magnesium supplements acts as a cure for chronic leg cramp problems.
Health benefits of Magnesium for High blood pressure
Eating low fat dairy products, along with lots of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, is associated with lower blood pressure. All of these foods are rich in magnesium, as well as calcium and potassium. A large clinical study of more than 8,500 women found that a higher intake of dietary magnesium may decrease the risk of high blood pressure in women. A few studies also suggest that magnesium supplements may help lower blood pressure, although not all studies agree.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Prevents heart attack, arrhythmia and heart failure
Deficiency of magnesium can result in heart disease, often leading to fatal results. Deficiency of magnesium brings a long list of hazards to your heart. Magnesium protects the heart from irregular heartbeats and tenderly shields your heart from damage, particularly from muscle stress. Magnesium actually calms the nerves and mediates digestive processes and prevents problems like vomiting, cramps, indigestion, abdominal pain, flatulence, and constipation, all of which can put undue stress on various parts of your cardiovascular system.
One well designed study found that taking magnesium orotate for a year reduced symptoms and improved survival rates compared to placebo in people with CHF. Magnesium and calcium work together at very precise ratios to ensure your heart functions properly. If you have a cardiac history, talk to your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
Results of studies using magnesium to treat heart attack survivors, however, have been mixed. Some have reported lower death rates, as well as fewer arrhythmias and improved blood pressure when magnesium is used as part of the treatment following a heart attack. But one study found that magnesium slightly increased the risk of sudden death, chance of another heart attack, or need for bypass surgery in the year after a heart attack. If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will decide if magnesium supplementation, either IV or orally, is right for you.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Prevents constipation
Magnesium provides quick relief from constipation, and a high dose of water-soluble magnesium supplements is known to bring sound relief for even the most severe constipated state. This laxative property of magnesium relaxes the intestinal muscles, thereby helping to establish a smoother rhythm while passing bowels. Magnesium also has another property of attracting water, which in turn softens the stool and helps it to pass easily.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Prevents diabetes and regulates sugar level
The health benefits of magnesium extend to diabetic patients also, as this mineral helps to regulate the insulin reaction to blood sugar levels. Magnesium supplements are vital for all diabetic patients as many of them suffer from magnesium deficiency. Magnesium aids in regulating blood sugar status, thus promoting normal blood pressure. Hypertension is one of the major reasons for an impending heart attack, and it has been found that many people with high blood pressure also have a magnesium deficiency. Therefore, extra nutrients and mineral supplements with magnesium content are vital in order to avoid any medical complications.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Cures psychiatric disorders
Magnesium is known to cure some of the worst forms of psychiatric dysfunctions such as panic attacks, stress, anxiety and undue agitation.
Health benefits of Magnesium for Migraine headache
A few studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements may help prevent migraine headaches. In addition, a few clinical studies suggest that magnesium supplements may shorten the duration of a migraine and reduce the amount of medication needed. People who have migraine headaches tend to have lower levels of magnesium compared to those with tension headaches or no headaches at all.
Some experts suggest combining magnesium with the herb feverfew along with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may be helpful when you have a headache.
However, some studies suggest that magnesium sulfate may be less effective than prescription medications for preventing migraines in those who have 3 or more headaches per month. The only exception to this may be women who get migraine headaches around the time of their period.
Health benefits of Magnesium Producing collagen
Magnesium is important for producing proteins that are slowly transformed into collagen. Collagens are naturally occurring proteins mostly found in fibrous tissues like tendons, ligaments and the skin. It is also present in the cornea, bones, the gut, cartilage, blood vessels, and intervertebral discs. The more collagen in the system, the stronger those areas of the body will become.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Absorb minerals
Magnesium helps to absorb vital vitamins and minerals like sodium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Mineral absorption usually occurs within the small intestine and this benefit of magnesium ensures the detoxification of many harmful toxins in our body.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Activates enzymes
Magnesium also helps to boost the energy production in the body and it promotes the activation of enzymes to create cellular energy.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Controls bladder functions
Many people who have blabber problems and suffer from the frequent urge to urinate may find relief by taking magnesium supplements. Urination problems can come from a variety of reasons such as nephritis, infections, or sometimes interstitial cystitis; however, regular intake of magnesium can bring great relief to these ailments.
Health benefits of Magnesium: Restless legs syndrome
A small clinical study including only 10 patients found that magnesium improved insomnia related to restless legs syndrome (a disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs, which are worse during periods of inactivity or rest or while sitting or lying down).
Who should supplement Magnesium
Magnesium has been linked to reduced incidence of common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in large peer-reviewed, long-term studies. Studies today focus on whether active magnesium supplementation may be one of the missing links to preventing these diseases, as well as several disorders affecting the brain, muscles and skin.
With an estimated three-quarters of Americans taking in insufficient magnesium, the number of people at risk for chronic deficiency is high. This is especially so among older people, as the ability to absorb adequate amounts magnesium slowly declines with age.
The U.S. Department of Health has placed magnesium on its short list of nutrients of concern , and many experts actually recommend increases to magnesium’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
The good news is that magnesium supplementation is a safe and effective way for most people to ensure they are getting enough magnesium to stay healthy, before deficiencies arise.
Magnesium Side effects and cautions
Since magnesium is excreted by the kidneys, people with heart or kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements except under their doctor's supervision.
It is very rare to overdose on magnesium from food. However, people who ingest large amounts of milk of magnesia (as a laxative or antacid), epsom salts (as a laxative or tonic), or magnesium supplements may overdose, especially if they have kidney problems. Too much magnesium can cause serious health problems, including nausea, vomiting, severely lowered blood pressure, confusion, slowed heart rate, respiratory paralysis, deficiencies of other minerals, coma, cardiac arrhythmias, cariac arrest, and death.
Magnesium seem to slow blood clotting. In theory, taking magnesium might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.
More common side effects from magnesium include upset stomach and diarrhea.
Magnesium competes with calcium for absorption and can cause a calcium deficiency if calcium levels are already low. Some medications may lower magnesium levels in the body. These include chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, digoxin (Lanoxin), steroids, and certain antibiotics.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.