Dr. Jodi Vingelen, ND
Let’s just say you want this marvelous mineral around as it will facilitate you to be happy, energetic and have clarity of mind! Magnesium is an essential component for biochemical functions of cells. A magnificent mineral that it is! Magnesium is involved in the activation of over 300 different enzymes and a participant in many metabolic processes, including regulating nerve and muscle function, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and making protein, bone, and DNA.1
Well, have you wondered if you may be deficient in this mineral? Likely, you are. Most foods are low in containing magnesium because of depleted soils and current farming practices. Secondly, you likely are not eating enough of the magnesium-rich foods. Additionally, you may be doing things that increase the utilization of the magnesium that you do have circulating in your blood stream. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include the following:
- Agitation, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, listlessness, confusion
- Sleep disorders for example, insomnia
- Abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure
- Muscle twitching, cramps, weakness and spasm, restless leg syndrome, seizures
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Poor nail growth
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM DEFICIENT?
Magnesium levels can be measured through a blood test that evaluates serum magnesium along with red blood cell magnesium. Request this test at your next annual physical exam.
CAUSES OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY
The following causes magnesium deficiency:
Drugs & Medications: if you are taking potassium-depleting prescription diuretics, too many laxatives and/or antacid medications (proton pump inhibitors).
Severe burns, diabetes, heart failure, alcoholism, chronic diarrhea, pancreatitis
Conditions associated with malabsorption, such as Crohn’s disease
Magnesium has been beneficial in the treatment of irregular heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes, certain forms of hearing loss, leg cramps, complications following a heart attack, controlling high blood pressure, and acute childhood asthma. As well, magnesium sulfate is commonly prescribed for pregnant women for preventing preterm labor and seizures in women with preeclampsia during pregnancy. During preterm labor, magnesium sulfate slows uterine contractions. The exact mechanism for how it prevents seizures in eclampsia, the culmination of preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure in multiple organs during pregnancy, is unknown.
The best way to get magnesium is to eat it. Excellent food sources of magnesium include nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios), grains (oatmeal, wheat germ, whole grain breads and cereals), legumes (soybeans, lentils, kidney and pinto beans), and dark green vegetables (spinach and beet greens). The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium for young adults is around 400 mg/day for men and 310 mg/day for women. For adults over 30, the RDA is 420 mg/day for men and 320 mg/day for women.2
Most people do not get enough magnesium through the foods they eat. So, supplementation is advisable. A recommendation of 250 to 350 mg per day of supplemental magnesium for adults is what I most commonly suggest. As well, supplementing with vitamin B6 increases the amount of magnesium that can enter the cells. Before taking magnesium, check with your doctor. Magnesium may not be advisable if you are taking blood thinners or iron supplements, or if you have severe kidney disease, a low heart rate, or myasthenia gravis. Magnesium competes for absorption with other minerals, particularly calcium. Taking a multi-mineral supplement avoids this potential problem. Magnesium may interact and decrease the effectiveness of medications such as synthetic thyroid hormone and the antibiotic tetracycline. It’s advised to separate the taking of magnesium and these medications by at least two hours.
Another way to get magnesium is to take a bath in magnesium sulfate, epsom salts. It works! You can absorb it through the skin.3
WHEN TO USE EPSOM SALT BATH?
Whenever you want to ease stress, improve sleep and concentration, help muscles and nerves function properly, prevent artery hardening and blood clots, regulate activity of 300+ enzymes, make insulin more effective, reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps, improve oxygen use, flush toxins, improve absorption of nutrients, prevent or ease migraine headaches, and/or help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.4
IS TOXICITY POSSIBLE?
Well, anything can be toxic depending on how much is consumed. If you are getting too much magnesium you may experience diarrhea. So, back down on the dosage amount until you no longer have diarrhea.
To prepare the Epsom salt bath, begin with filling the bathtub with warm filtered water. It is important to remove the chlorine from the water as by soaking in the chlorinated water your skin will absorb the chlorine and the chlorine is harmful to you. Next place two pounds of Epsom salt into the water. Swirl the water around with your hand/s to mix the salt that you have placed in the water. Remove all clothes and jewelry and gently and mindfully place your body into the salt water. Soak for at least 12 minutes, 3 times a week. While soaking practice mindful breathing and enjoy the serenity that may arise.
Passionately, I utilize nature cure methods personally and professionally. One of my favorite “treatments” is the cold plunge. After a nice long walk or run, there is nothing more rewarding than to come up to a beautiful alpine lake or a flowing river to take a quick dip in the refreshing cold water. It is a stimulating experience. I hope that by reading my short essays on nature cure that you will be enticed into this lifestyle that my patients and I find to be re-vitalizing.
Graduated from Bastyr University (Kenmore, WA). Dr. Jodi Vingelen is a WA state licensed ND*.
*Currently Texas does not license Naturopathic Doctors. Naturopathic Doctors are NOT Medical Doctors (MD/DO); therefore, Dr. Vingelen, ND cannot legally prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, administer injections, diagnose, treat or cure any illness.
- Pasternak, Kazimierz, Joanna Kocot, and Anna Horecka. “Biochemistry of Magnesium.” Journal of Elemntology J. Elem. 3/2010 (2010): 601-16. Web.
- Dr RH Waring. Report on Absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin. School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham. B15 2TT, U.K. firstname.lastname@example.org