Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Magnesium, the Body’s Powerhouse
The health benefits of magnesium make it one of the most important minerals in our diets. This vital mineral has many functions in the body. It is essential to the energy production in every cell in the body. Effective functioning of the muscles needs magnesium. It is the major regulator of the transport of electrolytes in and out of the body cells.
Research shows that between 48 to 59% of people don’t consume enough magnesium. It is found in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, bananas, soy beans, oats, lentils. Older people are more at risk of magnesium insufficiency. Magnesium can be lost from the body through some diuretic and antibiotic medications as well as some cancer medications. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels in diabetics will cause magnesium loss. Foods such as grains and silverbeet contain phytic and oxalic acids which bind with magnesium and excrete it from the body. Excessive consumption of alcohol depletes magnesium. Large losses occur in cooking, particularly in boiling of vegetables. It is better to lightly stir-fry or steam green vegetables to retain the magnesium content.
Symptoms associated with magnesium insufficiency include fatigue, muscle cramps ,muscle tension and twitches, anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood sugar regulation problems, and accelerated aging.
Because of the prevalence of deficiency symptoms and the difficulty of maintaining optimal dietary sources, many people can benefit from a magnesium supplement. It is particularly recommended for people experiencing any of the above symptoms. Magnesium comes in many forms, so it is important to understand which supplement is the most suitable. The best products are usually in a powder rather than tablet form. Ingredients such as magnesium amino acid chelate, diglycinate, and orotate are forms which I recommend. These types of magnesium are absorbed directly into the muscle cells where they are the most effective. They are supplied in a powder form because they are physically bulky, and therefore an effective dose in a tablet would be too large.
One of the most common forms of magnesium used in tablets is magnesium oxide. These supplements should be avoided. Magnesium oxide is not uptaken into the body cells. It has a tendency to loosen the bowels and goes to waste, literally. It is used in tablets because it is inexpensive, and because it is dense therefore a ‘therapeutic’ dose can fit in the size of a tablet.
Most good quality magnesium powders also contain some B vitamins and traces of other minerals which help with the uptake of the magnesium and enhance its action in cellular functioning. The B complex vitamins create energy so are best taken in the morning. If magnesium is needed at night, for insomnia or cramps, there are quality supplements without the B vitamins and with sleep enhancing ingredients. For people with high blood pressure or heart problems, I recommend a magnesium powder containing taurine which helps reduce the body’s physiological reaction to stress. It is advisable to discuss any health problems with a qualified natural health practitioner so the most suitable magnesium can be prescribed for your needs.