Magnesium an all-round health hero
Where would we be without magnesium? The complexities and uses for magnesium in the body are endless making it vital for our wellbeing and yet magnesium deficiency is incredibly common. It is estimated that almost a third of the general population are lacking in this important mineral. Surprisingly, this deficiency is frequently overlooked in most health practices despite the implication that low magnesium contributes to a broad range of chronic conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
What do we know about magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that is plentiful in our natural environment and within our bodies. Next to potassium, it is the 2nd most abundant ion found within our cells and is vital for numerous physiological functions. Scientists have identified that magnesium is involved in the activation of more than 300 enzymes and body compounds and is a key component for energy and metabolism.
Healthy bones - health heart - healthy nervous system
Fortunately, we are able to gain magnesium through both food and water and over half of all we absorb is deposited into our bones, the remaining magnesium can be found within soft tissue. During digestion magnesium is released from food, absorbed across the gut wall and transported to the bones for storage. Around 1% makes its way to the red blood cells and blood serum. Any excess magnesium is excreted by the kidneys. Keeping bones strong and healthy and regulating the contraction and relaxation of muscles are two of the main tasks that magnesium performs. Magnesium is also important for the health of red blood cells and with serum contain around one per cent magnesium. This mineral is also vital for regulating heart rhythm and sustaining normal neurological function. This is due to its influence on neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the nervous system.
Top 7 benefits of magnesium
Skeletal health - magnesium helps to regulate calcium within the teeth and bones. In fact, magnesium is required for calcium to be bound to teeth enamel. Magnesium influences the hormonal processes involved in the metabolism of bone calcium and it’s thought to increase the activity of vitamin D, which is also involved in calcium absorption. Magnesium is as important for skeletal health as calcium, studies show that women with osteoporosis are found to have less bone magnesium.
Stress relief - magnesium works alongside vitamin C, B6, B5 and zinc to maintain adrenal health and produce adrenal stress hormones. Dietary imbalances such as high intakes of fat and or calcium can intensify magnesium inadequacy especially under conditions of stress. Stress whether physical or emotional increases the need for magnesium.
Hormonal health - magnesium has a significant effect on female hormones and is linked to fluid retention, weight gain and breast pain, all common for women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Research shows that premenstrual mood swings are often helped by magnesium supplementation.
Energy production and diabetes - magnesium is particularly critical to energy production and is therefore often a major factor in fatigue related disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Because of its critical role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and the synthesis and secretion of insulin, magnesium is also linked to diabetes. Interestingly, diabetes sufferers are often found to be deficient in magnesium.
Cardiovascular health - magnesium works alongside calcium, sodium and potassium to control the muscle tone of blood vessels and because of this has been studied extensively for its role in cardiovascular disease. The heart is particularly sensitive to depleted magnesium levels and low levels of this mineral are linked to an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Magnesium deficiency is a common feature of conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, peripheral vascular disease and mitral valve prolapse. Studies have found people living in hard water areas have a reduced risk of heart disease, this is due to the increased level of magnesium salts in the water.
Pain relief - pain related disorders such as migraine, tension headaches and fibromyalgia might be improved by magnesium supplementation. Individuals who suffer from tension headaches and recurrent migraines are seen to have lower magnesium levels inside the cells. This is likely due to the effect that magnesium has on vascular muscle function and nerve relaxation.
Sleep quality - studies show that magnesium deficiency affects sleep, thought to be due to its effect on circadian rhythms and melatonin production, which are both involved in the sleep/wake cycle. Supplementing with magnesium has been found to improve insomnia in elderly people.
What causes magnesium deficiency?
You need to consume magnesium rich foods regularly to avoid a deficiency. This is particularly important during times of chronic stress since stress may lead to depleted magnesium reserves and certain medical conditions can also upset the body's magnesium balance. It’s worth noting that viruses which cause vomiting or diarrhoea can cause temporary magnesium deficiencies and conditions such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, heavy menstrual bleeding, excessive sweating and kidney disease can also lead to magnesium deficiency. In addition, excessive intakes of alcohol, salt, and coffee can lower magnesium levels.
Tell-tale signs of magnesium deficiency
agitation – anxiety – insomnia – irritability - restless legs - nausea – vomiting – palpitations - low blood pressure – confusion - muscle spasm - muscle weakness – hyperventilation - poor nail growth - seizures
Magnesium food facts
Foods that are high in fibre are generally high in magnesium. Otherwise, foods rich in magnesium include kelp, tofu, seaweed, nuts, buckwheat, whole wheat, millet, rye, brown rice, soy-beans, avocados, sweet corn, dried figs, dates and shrimps.
Top up with a liposomal magnesium supplement
Supplementation may be highly recommended for the elderly and women with PMS, heavy menstruation or menstrual cramps. This supplement can be of great benefit during times of stress or for those in poor health, or for those with fatigue, diabetes or other certain medical conditions. But choosing an effective supplement is the key. The manufacturers of Altrient products have responded to the worrying global deficiency in magnesium by producing a premium bioavailable liposomal magnesium supplement which is even suitable for those with gut impairments. The beauty of oral liposomal formulations compared to standard oral supplements is that they are able to resist degradation in the gut and efficiently reach target cells delivering maximised absorption through cutting-edge liposomal encapsulation technology. Altrient are delighted to introduce this new, revolutionary form of magnesium for the benefit of the many, not just the few.
Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy
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