Magnesium: The Fourth Most Abundant Mineral In The Body


Magnesium is a magnificent mineral. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and essential to good health for each and every one of us. Interestingly, approximately 50% of the magnesium stored in our body can be found in the bone. The other half is found inside of the cells of our body tissue and organs and only 1% is found in the blood. But, although the amount found in the blood is so small, the body works very hard to keep this small number constant.

Magnesium is a mineral found in all unprocessed foods. There is a high concentration in unmilled grain, dark leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes. Although there is an abundance in whole foods, because of the standard Western diet and potential malabsorption issues, many people can create a situation where they do not receive enough magnesium to support optimal health.

Large amounts can be lost during prolonged exercise, excessive sweating, chronic diarrhea, lactation in the use of some medications such as diuretics and digitalis. Individuals who have an overactive thyroid or low levels of potassium can also suffer from magnesium deficiency. And, side effects of low levels of magnesium will start before they get to dangerous levels.

And the bad news is that the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the diets of most adult men and women do not provide the recommended amounts of magnesium required for optimal health. This may be because most Americans do not eat unprocessed foods and magnesium is lost during processing.

Magnesium deficiencies are often overlooked because the symptoms are so varied in both the type of symptom and the severity. Researchers have linked magnesium deficiency to several different types of illnesses and can not be specific as to whether the elements came first or the deficiency came first.

Some researchers have also linked the following conditions with the magnesium deficiency for a variety of reasons: allergies and chemical sensitivities, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes and calcification of the soft tissue, including the heart valves. Researchers have also found that individuals who have the magnesium deficiency can also suffer from fibromyalgia, hearing loss, migraines, menstrual cramps, mitral valve prolapse, muscle cramps, nystagmus, osteoporosis and TMJ.

Many of these conditions have been helped by supplementation of magnesium. For instance, research has shown that nearly 50% of those who suffer from migraines are magnesium deficient and that with the supplementation they are no longer suffer from their headaches. Calcium and magnesium work together to create healthy bones and so while calcium supplementation is essential for those who want to prevent osteoporosis this calcium supplementation will not be adequately utilized unless it is coupled with magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K2.

When magnesium deficiency gets low enough an individual will also exhibit loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness. As the deficiency worsens these signs and symptoms will include neuromuscular problems such as numbness, tingling and muscle contractions or cramping.

According to the National Academy Of Sciences the recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 420 mg per day for men and 320 mg per day for women. However, before adding the supplements your daily regimen it is important to discuss your options with your primary care physician. First and foremost it is important to recognize that any vitamin or mineral supplement will have more bioavailability if it is ingested in its natural form. This means that your body will ingest more and have more magnesium to use if it is taken in through your food and not from a chemical manufactured in a lab.

Another factor to consider is that there are some underlying medical conditions which make adding any mineral supplement to the daily regimen a challenge. For instance, those who have impaired kidney function must be especially careful because magnesium can accumulate and cause a very dangerous situation.

The best way to get extra amounts of magnesium in the diet is to eat a variety of whole grains, vegetables and legumes. Foods that are highest in magnesium include halibut, almonds, cashews, spinach and fortified cereals.

Current studies are ongoing to evaluate the role that magnesium plays in the regulation of blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Intake of magnesium through the diet does not pose a health risk to individuals, but pharmacological dosing can promote adverse side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal cramping.