Guest post by Dr. Brent Wells
Magnesium. It seems as if everyone is suddenly talking about this mineral, but why? It’s not as if science recently discovered this 4th most abundant mineral in the human body. Why is magnesium suddenly a hot topic?
Perhaps it’s because magnesium, which most of us used to obtain from our diets, simply isn’t available in the quantities that it used to be. Fresh produce used to provide us with all the magnesium our bodies needed, however, our soils have been leeched of this vital mineral.
Our love of carbonated drinks, which bind with magnesium in the digestive tract, also eliminate most of the magnesium that we do consume.
Add to this list, chronic inflammation, our modern day diets, toxins, and exposure to pollution, and it becomes very clear why nearly 80% of North Americans have a severe deficiency in magnesium.
Why Should We Care About Magnesium?
While we can become complacent about some things, magnesium shouldn’t be one of them. At my chiropractic clinic in Anchorage, Alaska, I can often recognize those who have a magnesium deficiency.
Perhaps the most common complaint I see from those with a magnesium deficiency is that they have chronic muscle pain and/or muscle spasms. Of course, these muscle spasms pull their spines and other joints out of alignment, which is why they come to my office.
Approximately 40% of the magnesium in the body is found in the muscles and connective tissues of the body. Every single cell in the human body needs magnesium to function and while it is involved in at least 600 different reactions, some of the most important ones include:
✓ The formation of protein, which builds muscles and bone
✓ The regulation of the central nervous system
✓ The contraction and relaxation of every muscle
✓ The creation of energy
Even if you only consider the list above, it makes you realize just how vital this mineral is.
Common Low Magnesium Health Issues
As I mentioned earlier, I see patients who complain about muscle spasms that they can’t explain. Due to these spasms, they experience joint pain. While many of these patients believe that their joint pain is causing muscles spasms, they are surprised when I tell them that it’s actually the other way around.
Blood tests reveal that almost all of the people who complain about muscle spasms have very low levels of magnesium. Through chiropractic adjustments, I am able to realign the vertebrae or other joints, but I explain to them that they will need to supplement their diet with magnesium to stop the spasms.
Magnesium plays a huge role in how our muscles contract and relax. It’s this underappreciated mineral which moves sugar into the muscles and disposes of lactic acid.
In addition to spasms, people complain about chronic muscle pain. While there can be numerous causes of muscle pain, if there is no obvious reason for their pain, I will again check their magnesium levels. Lactic acid is what builds up in muscles whenever we exercise and makes our muscles sore the next day. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium, the body doesn’t fully remove the lactic acid, causing soreness to continue.
This mineral also plays a part in how we experience pain in general. Magnesium is one of the controls within the central nervous system. A lack of this mineral causes us to experience pain not because there is something causing physical pain, but because our pain receptors are not responding correctly.
This would explain why you see so many recommendations for those with muscle pain to soak in warm baths mixed with Epsom salts, which aren’t actually salts at all, but magnesium flakes. While this can help, studies have found that transdermal magnesium chloride based creams and oils are much more readily absorbed by the body than Epsom salts.
Other Reasons to Take Magnesium
Speaking of those hot baths with Epsom salts, how many of you have been told to soak away your stress using this method after a particularly rough day? This is because magnesium relaxes the muscles and helps to keep the blood vessels open, promoting improved circulation. This will help relieve stress, which is a root cause of many diseases.
For those who suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, taking magnesium supplements or via transdermal oils can help to prevent those as well. The American Migraine Foundation says that magnesium supplements can prevent cortical spreading depression, which causes the “auras” that most migraine sufferers know precludes an attack.
This mineral has also been shown in studies to lower blood pressure for those with hypertension while having anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Chronic inflammation is considered to be the driving force behind obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
Where to Get Magnesium
Adult women need about 320 mg of magnesium each day and men about 420 mgs. Some of the best foods that contain magnesium include:
- Boiled Spinach- 180 grams per cup
- Boiled Swiss Chard- 175 grams per cup
- Cooked Quinoa- 185 grams per cup
- Black Beans- 172 grams per cup
It’s easy to see from this list that even if you ate one of the above item every day, even women will fall short of their magnesium needs for the day. This is why magnesium supplements play such a vital role in our health.
Even Most “Healthy” People Are Deficient
No matter how “healthy” people believe they are eating, you can bet that you are probably deficient in magnesium. Don’t wait until your health suffers. Be certain that you are getting all the magnesium your body needs every single day. Your life depends on it!
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab — a chiropractic clinic in Anchorage, Alaska. Born and raised in Southern California, Dr. Wells received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nevada and his Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine degree from Western States Chiropractic College. He, his wife Coni, and their three children live in and enjoy the great outdoors in Alaska.