Magnesium magnificently functions to keep many body systems running smoothly. If you are not eating the right foods or supplementing, it is easy to register low on the magnesium scale. It is estimated that 80 percent of the U.S. population is deficient in magnesium. Here are a few conditions you may experience if you are low in magnesium:
Inflammation of the gastrointestinal system
Type 2 Diabetes
Migraine patients supplementing with magnesium experience fewer and less severe migraine episodes.
A magnesium deficient diet leads to an alteration in the gut microbiome. This is one explanation for magnesium’s role in depression and personality disorders.
You might be surprised to see osteoporosis on this list. Fact is, without magnesium, calcium is useless. You need calcium to harden the bones, but without the magnesium to balance it, the bones become brittle and break easily. Magnesium keeps the bones flexible.
In the blood, magnesium counterbalances calcium so that nerves excite and calm smoothly. Magnesium helps muscle cells to contract and relax smoothly. Magnesium also prevents excess calcium from depositing in soft tissues, where it can wreak havoc.
In one study, men were monitored for 24 years and the group with the highest magnesium levels experienced the lowest incidence of heart failure.
Magnesium and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Predict Chronic Disease
Magnesium has been shown to have a strong effect on heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measurement of rest time between each heart beat, which is regulated by your autonomic nervous system. There are two branches of the autonomic nervous system—sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” branch. The parasympathetic nervous system is your “rest and digest” branch. HRV can be used to determine how well your body is responding to stress (physical, mental/emotional and environmental) and how well these two branches of the nervous system are balanced. Low HRV shows that the two branches of the autonomic nervous system are not working at their optimum and are imbalanced. Low HRV has been shown to worsen or accelerate many chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, atrial fibrillation, blood pressure, cancer, cardiovascular risk, central sensitization and chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, concussion, COPD, mild cognitive impairment, depression, diabetes (type I and II), eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), fibromyalgia, headache disorders, heart failure, inflammation, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, restless legs syndrome, schizophrenia, stomach ulcers, stroke, sepsis, and stress. In one study, HRV was taken before and after magnesium supplementation. HRV improved with supplementation, helping to modulate the two branches of the nervous system. Magnesium supplementation to increase HRV was surmised to aid “restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, sleep disorder (and) depression.”
Another study done in 2015 included people with chronic illnesses. Magnesium deficiency was identified using the data of HRV readings with 80 percent accuracy. Our office offers a simple, painless HRV screening that we use to assess the overall health and function of the nervous system and your body’s ability to respond to stress.
Testing Magnesium Levels
Measuring magnesium levels in your blood serum can be very inaccurate for identifying magnesium deficiency given the fact that the majority of magnesium is stored within your cells. Only 1 percent of the magnesium in your body is found in the serum. A more accurate method of measuring actual magnesium levels is through a specialized blood test measuring magnesium levels within your red blood cells.
What Are The Best Ways To Get Magnesium?
Recommended daily adult intake for magnesium is 400 mg/day, and for children around 100 mg/day. Foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, black beans, kefir, cashews, quinoa, sunflower seeds, almonds, and dark chocolate.
Magnesium glycinate, magnesium threonate, magnesium chelate and magnesium lactate are easily absorbed forms used for supplementation. Epsom salt baths are also a gentle, effective way to correct a magnesium deficiency. Excess magnesium will cause GI upset and diarrhea. As with any intervention, check with your healthcare provider to assess your condition and add any intervention to your healthcare routine.