Magnesium is an essential element which takes part in hundreds of important biochemical reactions in the body. It is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Due to food processing techniques, much magnesium is stripped from our foods, such as in the removal of the fibrous portion when refining white flour. There may be a significant number of people with magnesium deficiency, particularly those that eat a lot of processed or convenience foods.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include
- Fatigue, weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
- Numbness, tingling, ‘pins and needles’
- Muscle spasms, cramps
- Restless legs
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Personality changes
Magnesium deficiency is an important risk factor for type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, migraine including menstrual migraine and PMS. Magnesium is also essential for the developing foetus and deficiency can be linked to gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and negative effects in the child in later life.
Magnesium supplements can be used to increase magnesium levels in conjunction with dietary changes. However, not all supplements are easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium oxide, often found in cheaper multivitamins, is difficult to absorb with only 6% being usable by the body. Magnesium citrate on the other hand is much easier for your body to use, with up to 97% being utilised.
The most common measurement of magnesium carried out uses serum, which is a portion of your blood. This is a very inaccurate measurement. Magnesium is essential to maintain your heart rhythm. The ‘reservoir’ or store in your bone is released into your blood during times of deficiency to keep your heart beating correctly. Thus you may be losing magnesium from your bone and be unaware of this. A more accurate measurement is to look at the levels inside your red blood cells. This is a better indication of your magnesium levels over time.
Here at Glenville Nutrition we measure red blood cell magnesium and can advise you how to improve your magnesium levels using diet and supplements. Call us to find out more on 01-4020777. For further information on magnesium, read this fact sheet from the NIH: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/