Magnesium deficiency: causes and consequences

Magnesium deficiency affects many people. It is claimed that there is rarely a magnesium deficiency, which is unfortunately not the case since today’s diet is rather low in magnesium. It is also known that magnesium deficiency is involved in many chronic diseases.

What is magnesium and what is a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that must be obtained from food. It is the fourth most common mineral in the human body. The requirement is 300 to 400 mg daily for an adult.

A latent magnesium deficiency exists when too little magnesium is regularly ingested with food. One speaks of a clinical magnesium deficiency when the blood count shows low magnesium values. The first symptoms are already present.

What is the role of magnesium in the body?

Almost nothing happens in the body without magnesium. It’s involved in at least 300 enzymatic reactions and acts as a co-factor. For example, it’s involved in energy generation in the cell. It’s also involved in the construction of genetic material and proteins. Magnesium is also key for healthy muscle and nerve function. It also supports healthy blood pressure, heart function, and insulin metabolism.

A lack of magnesium has a very bad effect. It harms many organs and functions. It can show itself with one symptom. Or, it can show several symptoms at once. A good supply of magnesium is key to preventing and treating many diseases.

Is a magnesium deficiency widespread?

Officials say there is almost no magnesium deficiency in rich countries. You can get plenty of magnesium with a healthy diet. This explanation is scary. Many people do not eat a healthy diet.

Then again, it is said that healthy people should not take any dietary supplements (including magnesium) because they are superfluous. As is so often the case, prevention is a foreign word here.

Studies show that low magnesium levels are linked to common diseases today. These include type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They also include high CRP, which can show rheumatism, and high blood pressure. There is also arteriosclerosis, heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines, asthma, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and colon cancer. Few people today do not have at least one of these problems.

A 2012 study also found that almost half of the population does not consume enough magnesium. Instead, foods rich in calcium and low in magnesium (dairy products) are consumed more frequently. Calcium supplements are often taken, which further worsen the calcium-magnesium ratio.

In another study, 1033 hospital patients were examined. A serious lack of magnesium was found in 54% of the patients. The scariest part was: 90% of the doctors had not even thought to test for magnesium.

A study published in 2005 showed that two-thirds of citizens fail to get their recommended daily intake of magnesium, and 19 percent consume less than half of it.

With these numbers, however, it must be taken into account that the scientists are assuming the official magnesium requirement (300 to 400 milligrams), which could possibly be much higher today. Because stress alone and the ubiquitous environmental toxins could significantly increase our needs.

What are the causes of magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency has many causes, which we will discuss below:

Plants and soil are low in magnesium

Today our soils are even more depleted and even poorer in minerals than ever before. Of course, industrial agriculture uses lots of synthetic fertilizers. They do this to get ever-increasing yields from the soil.

The producers are not in the least interested in the mineral content of the food. After all, no consumer can select their food by this rule. No one can tell from an apple or a salad how many vitamins and minerals it has.

There are also no regulations or laws that would require a minimum content of vital minerals in our food.

An April 2016 study read: “Although magnesium is one of the most important nutrients, […] its importance has been overlooked in recent decades by plant professionals and farmers who did not consider magnesium deficiency in plants to be a serious health problem. Recent studies show that the magnesium in grain has decreased over time. Two-thirds of people in rich countries are consuming less magnesium than they need.”

Magnesium deficiency is favoured by artificial fertilizers

Artificial fertilizers consist of nitrates, phosphates and potash salts. Lime preparations (calcium) are also applied. The result is lush and appealing harvests. But these plants are low in those minerals and trace elements. These are missing in these one-sided fertilizers.

In addition, each year at least as much magnesium is leached by precipitation as is used by crops for growth and fruiting, doubling the annual magnesium loss in the soil.

The use of mineral fertilizers often ignores our soil’s need for magnesium. It also disrupts the soil’s natural mineral balance. This disruption prevents an even and healthy supply of plants.

Potassium and calcium, for example, which are plentiful in synthetic fertilizers, block magnesium uptake into the plant. Even if there were sufficient magnesium in the soil, the plant would not be able to absorb enough of it in the presence of artificial fertilizers.

Magnesium deficiency caused by the food industry

The amount of magnesium in processed foods is still significantly lower than in fresh, whole foods. White flour contains only 20 to 30 percent of the amount of magnesium in wholemeal flour. And white rice contains only a fifth of the amount of magnesium in brown rice.

Starch is widely used in processed foods (puddings, cakes, cookies, candies, instant soups, etc.) and comes from corn. It gives you 3 percent of the magnesium in the corn kernel.

Household sugar, however, is the king among the “magnesium-less”. During its production from the sugar beet, 99 percent of the vital mineral is lost.

Magnesium is lost through cooking and frying

Added to this are the mineral losses during the preparation of the meals. The loss of magnesium just from cooking at home can be up to 40 percent.

Our main sources of magnesium are whole grains and legumes. Neither is overly popular with modern men. If he nevertheless cooks wholemeal pasta or beans, he usually throws the magnesium away with the cooking water.

Missing accompanying substances cause magnesium deficiency

Instead, we can eat whole-grain bread and rice. Then, we avoid the “boiling water” issue. But, we destroy up to 60 percent of the existing vitamin B6 and over 70 percent of the heat-sensitive vitamin B1 when we cook them.

However, magnesium can only be optimally absorbed by our organism if these two vitamins are present. The same applies to vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. However, the amount of vitamin E decreases by up to 45 percent when roasting and grilling, 50 percent when cooking and up to 60 percent when freezing.

As far as selenium is concerned, it has been known for a long time that the supply situation with this mineral in Australia can be described as critical. Compared to the American soils, those in Australia are extremely low in selenium and accordingly the daily intake of selenium has been reduced by half since the 1970s.

If the body is acidic, a magnesium deficiency follows

In particular, industrially processed finished products such as fast food, cheese, sausage, bread, biscuits, sweets, ready-made sauces, dips, soft drinks, etc. lead to chronic hyperacidity of the tissues and blood.

The excess acid is neutralized by the organism with basic minerals (magnesium, calcium, potassium, etc.). An unhealthy diet not only provides little magnesium, it also consumes more magnesium than a healthy diet due to its high acid potential.

So now we not only have chronic hyperacidity but often also chronic magnesium deficiency. Both together can lead to a weakened immune system, brittle bones, tooth decay, joint diseases, premature aging etc.

Magnesium deficiency due to lack of stomach acid and acid blockers

Due to the widespread unhealthy diet and lifestyle, many people suffer from a chronic lack of stomach acid, which – as strange as it may sound – can (also) manifest itself as heartburn.

Older people in particular, but also diabetics, asthmatics, rheumatics or patients with gallstones usually show insufficient gastric acid production. But, magnesium cannot be converted into its ionic and so useful form without gastric acid (nor can other minerals).

The condition that occurs in the stomach when so-called antacids (acid blockers) are used, i.e. agents that are intended to eliminate excess stomach acid, is not much better. They often lead to an excessive reduction in stomach acid and, in turn, to magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency can be caused by medication

Not only acid blockers promote a magnesium deficiency, but many other drugs as well. One of the best-known magnesium experts is Dr. Mildred Seelig, MD of New York University Medical Center . In the 1960s, Dr. Blessed worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Even then, she noticed that one of the most common side effects of medication was magnesium deficiency.

Our organism needs large amounts of minerals, magnesium, to break down the drugs. Some medications also promote magnesium excretion in the urine.

Some medications only seem to help. They do this by causing the body’s depots to release magnesium. This raises the level of magnesium in the blood. In the long term, of course, this does more harm than good because the mineral depots have now been plundered.

The following medications can contribute to or trigger magnesium deficiency:

  1. Diuretics (so-called “water pills”, which are also often prescribed for high blood pressure)
  2. Antiasthmatics from the group of bronchodilators, e.g. B. Theophylline, which is used to treat asthma and chronic bronchitis
  3. Birth control pills
  4. Insulin
  5. Digitalis preparations (cardiac glycosides) used to treat heart disease
  6. Antibiotics e.g. Tetracyline
  7. Cortisone
  8. Laxatives

These medications should always be taken in conjunction with magnesium (but 2 to 3 hours apart).

Disturbed intestinal flora and fungal infestation inhibit magnesium absorption

Under the influence of antibiotics and a diet high in carbohydrates or sugar, the intestinal flora is damaged and fungi (Candida albicans) thrive. More than 180 different toxins are produced by intestinal fungi. These toxins disrupt the intestinal lining. They stop the absorption of magnesium and other minerals.

Black and green tea bind valuable magnesium

Tannins in black and green tea bind valuable magnesium and make it useless for the body.

Carbonated soft drinks promote magnesium deficiency

Carbonated drinks often contain phosphates that combine with magnesium to form insoluble complexes. The bound magnesium is then no longer available to the body.

Stress causes above-average wear and tear of magnesium

Stress causes above-average magnesium wear. Low magnesium levels, however, lead to reduced stress resistance. A vicious circle with no escape. Unless you recognize the cause and fill up on magnesium.

Stress leads to the release of the stress hormone adrenaline. If the magnesium supply is insufficient, the magnesium level will fall at the same time. If there is a lack of magnesium, neither the blood vessels nor the muscles can relax.

Blood pressure rises, the heart muscle spasms, the heart beats harder and breathing becomes shallow. In the long term, anxiety and panic attacks can also develop.

The calcium-to-magnesium ratio is important for the absorption

The absorption of magnesium is blocked by the presence of excessive amounts of calcium. The calcium-to-magnesium ratio should be 2:1 for good magnesium absorption.

If the ratio shifts in favor of calcium, the existing magnesium can be used less by the organism.

The calcium-magnesium ratio in milk is 10:1, in Emmental cheese, it is 30:1, for example. So, don’t consume dairy if you lack magnesium. Or, do so if you can get enough magnesium to offset the extra calcium.

For this reason, osteoporosis patients fare much better if they increase their magnesium levels and avoid dairy products at the same time.

Magnesium, for example, handles converting vitamin D into vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is required for calcium absorption from the intestine. According to magnesium expert Professor Hans-Georg Classen, this is also the reason why a dietary supplement with magnesium can stop osteoporosis in older women.

Given these facts, it is of course surprising that there are still therapists who swear by pure calcium supplementation or a diet rich in milk for osteoporosis.

Increase your magnesium intake in certain life situations

Anyone who is ill, who is expecting or breastfeeding a baby, who is in a particularly stressful situation, who is still growing or who is in a recovery phase needs a lot of magnesium and should adjust their diet accordingly or consider high-quality dietary supplements.

How can you recognize a magnesium deficiency?

Since magnesium is involved in countless bodily functions and metabolic processes, a deficiency can also trigger countless symptoms. These symptoms are rarely associated with chronic magnesium deficiency. The most well-known magnesium deficiency symptoms are, of course, muscle cramps (calf cramps), headaches or sudden twitching of the eyelids.

However, magnesium deficiency can also promote or intensify migraines, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia and osteoporosis.

Many people with type 2 diabetes also suffer from magnesium deficiency. If you provide a better supply of magnesium, insulin resistance often decreases. High blood pressure, tooth decay, infertility, impotence, arteriosclerosis, obesity and cardiac arrhythmia can also be signs of magnesium deficiency.

How to diagnose a magnesium deficiency?

All of the symptoms mentioned can have other causes. So, play it safe and confirm a magnesium deficiency with a simple blood test. For this purpose, the magnesium content should be examined in whole blood and not – as is usually the case – in the serum.

How can you fix a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency can be corrected in two ways, which can also be combined:

1. Correct magnesium deficiency with a magnesium-rich diet

With today’s excellent supply situation with food from all regions of the world, covering the magnesium requirement through diet alone would not be a problem at all and we could stock up on foods that are particularly rich in magnesium, such as e.g. amaranth, quinoa, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leafy greens and almonds.

However, these are eaten far too rarely by many people. Either because they are too exotic for them or because they are too high in calories. The latter would not be a problem if the corresponding products were integrated into the daily menu.

After all, you don’t eat them as well, but replace inferior and usually very low-magnesium products such as e.g. processed foods, manufactured sweets, baked goods made from white flour, etc.

Here are a few examples: Eat a spread made from sunflower seeds instead of cheese or sausage, use homemade almond milk more often instead of cow’s milk, snack on energy balls made from nuts, almonds and dried fruit instead of conventional sweets, or snack on bread made from sprouts instead of crispbread, etc.

A magnesium overdose is not possible with a magnesium-rich diet.

2. Fix magnesium deficiency with dietary supplements

Magnesium requirements should not be covered with food supplements alone. After all, the diet mentioned above gives you magnesium. It also gives you many other vital substances. These are all needed for a healthy life and to prevent and heal complaints.

Having Colonics can’t help with the Magnesium deficiency. But, they will help create strong, healthy intestinal flora. They will also find and end Candida.

Magnesium deficiency

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