Do you remember those old adverts for Milk of Magnesia, sold in attractive cobalt blue glass bottles? It was sold as a remedy for indigestion and constipation. Indigestion is a common complaint these days and is just one of many symptoms of magnesium deficiency – along with constipation – a deficiency that can occur through consuming a highly processed diet based on refined flours and sugars. This happens in two ways: firstly, the refining process strips the whole foods of their magnesium content and secondly, magnesium is stripped from the body in having to process all those refined foods.
Do you also recall the age-old advice to have a drink of hot milk at bedtime to help you sleep? Milk is one source of Magnesium, an essential mineral which helps your muscles relax and therefore helps promote a good night’s sleep. (There are many plant-based sources too and I’ll provide a list below and see also my Magnesium-Rich Hippy Hippy Shake).
Did you know low levels of magnesium can be a contributory factor in mild depression? A couple of handfuls of cashew nuts is said to have the equivalent effect of one dose of Prozac on mood and mild depression due to the high levels of magnesium, tryptophan and B6? (This is the subject of some debate, please do not stop taking medication without consulting your doctor).
So, Could You Be Deficient?
Many people are considered to be deficient in magnesium and you may be too even if you consider that you eat reasonably healthily. Our soils are more depleted of natural magnesium nowadays and we often lead both physically and psychologically stressed lives – stress being a major factor in magnesium depletion in the body.
We drink more caffeine and phosphates in fizzy drinks which both increase excretion of magnesium and bind to it, which prevents absorption of this important mineral.
Certain medications increase excretion of magnesium via the kidneys, for example, diuretics, heart and asthma medications and birth control pills, while alcohol is also a diuretic.
People over 55 years old tend to eat less and have less efficient digestive systems, so they may be particularly prone to deficiency.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency include:
Muscle cramps, Poor Sleep, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Headaches and Migraines, IBS, Irritability, Palpitations, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Acid Reflux, Constipation, Bloating.
Magnesium deficiency is considered a major factor in causing Chronic Inflammation, believed to be the cause of many of today’s chronic conditions. Magnesium also aids bone health as it improves Calcium absorption.
Are you getting enough?
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Magnesium is currently around 300mg for women and 400mg for men, but this is considered by many to be on the low side and it is expected that these will be increased in the near future.
The following is a list of Magnesium-rich plant-based foods:
Green Leafy Vegetables
Nuts – especially Cashews
Hard Tap Water.
See my magnesium-rich Hippy Hippy Shake recipe!
It is best to get your magnesium from food sources rather than supplements.
NB Some medications interact adversely with magnesium eg thyroid and diabetes medications as well as some antibiotics. People with kidney damage should also avoid magnesium supplementation. Do not reduce or stop any medication without consulting your doctor.
Copyright: Chris McGowan