You know that getting sufficient calcium is vital for bone health, but did you know about the importance of magnesium? Most of this vital mineral is found in your bones and tissues. As a musculoskeletal expert, your Doctor of Chiropractic knows the importance of keeping bones, muscles and nerves healthy. Along with chiropractic adjustments and exercise, you can keep these areas in optimal condition by adopting good nutritional habits.
Not only does magnesium support the muscle and skeletal structure of your body, but it plays a crucial role in the prevention and treatment of other health conditions. In fact, early in the 20th century, medical doctors prescribed magnesium to patients with heart conditions. Magnesium has largely been forgotten by traditional medicine as pharmaceutical drugs have become more widely used over the last several decades. There is strong evidence that most people don’t have enough magnesium in their bodies.
Who is Most at Risk for Magnesium Deficiency?
Since drugs can deplete magnesium, seniors are often candidates for this mineral deficiency as they tend to use medications more than any other age group. Their bodies are also less able to absorb sufficient amounts of magnesium. Type 2 diabetics may have lower magnesium levels because their kidneys can’t store magnesium when glucose levels increase. A study found that patients with cardiac diseases may have lower levels of magnesium due to diuretic medications. The research also revealed cardiac patients’ magnesium deficiency may put them at a greater risk of cardiac arrhythmias – abnormal electrical activity in the heart that can sometimes be life threatening.[i]
Bone Health and Beyond:
Getting enough of this mineral can bring plenty of positive changes to your health. Magnesium performs a significant role in bone mineral density (BMD), which refers to how much calcium and other minerals are included in a specific area of bone. The disease osteoporosis reduces bone mineral density. In a study on nutrition and BMD, researchers found that a proper intake of magnesium was associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women.[ii]
Magnesium is also important to reduce the impact of stress – a problem linked as a contributing factor in many serious health conditions. A study review published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition revealed, “When magnesium (Mg) deficiency exists, stress paradoxically increases risk of cardiovascular damage including hypertension, cerebrovascular and coronary constriction and occlusion, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.”[iii]
Stress can also be a key factor in less serious but life-altering conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome. Research shows that CFS patients are often under stress and stress hormones reduce magnesium levels in body tissues.[iv] This can lead to a compromised immune system for people with this syndrome.
Other research indicates magnesium can also be useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, metabolic syndrome, muscle spasms, insomnia, headaches, hyperactivity, seizures and PMS. Also under further study is the possibility that magnesium may also be helpful for severe asthma attacks, high blood pressure and possibly help avoid the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
You can help keep your immune system operating at its best with sufficient magnesium and getting chiropractic adjustments, which are proven to help boost immune function.[v]
How to Increase Your Magnesium Levels:
You need to introduce plenty of magnesium rich foods into your diet. Dark leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, spinach and beans (legumes) that also contain crucial vitamins and other health benefits. Most types of fish contain magnesium including halibut and sardines. The top magnesium-rich nuts and seeds are almonds, cashews, soybeans, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. In grains the best sources are barley, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa and millet. Other sources are bananas, avocados and best of all – dark chocolate.
However, the amount of magnesium in food sources can vary considerably depending on where they are grown. In many parts of the world, damaging agricultural practices have led to soil with low levels of this mineral. In some situations, it may be necessary for you to supplement your dietary intake of magnesium.
Getting magnesium through your diet is safe, but you need to be aware that magnesium supplements can negatively interact with some medications. This can pose a serious risk for people with certain medical conditions. Get advice from your chiropractor before supplementing with this nutrient.
[i] Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride (1997) Institute of Medicine
[ii] Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999;69(4):727-36
[iii] Cardiovascular Reactions to Stress Intensified by Magnesium Deficit in Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency on the Enhancement of Stress Reactions; Preventive and Therapeutic Implications: A Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol 13, no 5, pp 429-446, 19942.
[iv] Seelig M., Presentation to the 37th Annual Mtg., American College of Nutrition, October 13, 1996
[v] The Effects of Chiropractic on the Immune System: A Review of the Literature. (1993) Chiropractic Journal of Australia 1993 (Dec); 23 (4):132–135.The Magnesium Factor – Mildred S. Seelig, Andrea Rosanoff, Avery Publishing, 20