Are you deficient in magnesium?
Did you know that around 80% of adults are believed to be deficient in magnesium? As magnesium is intercellular, it is not easy to assess hypomagnesemia (a lack of magnesium in the blood) by carrying out a simple blood test.
The symptoms of hypomagnesemia
Magnesium deficiency can cause a broad range of symptoms including:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Weak and aching muscles, or muscle spasms
- Cardiovascular disease
- Tooth cavities
- Stress, anxiety and mood swings
The fact that many of these symptoms are often related to other conditions means that hypomagnesemia is often very difficult to spot. The chances are, if you have experienced one or more of these symptoms, your body may be lacking in magnesium.
Why is magnesium deficiency so common?
There are numerous reasons for hypomagnesemia, including:
- Poor diet
- Digestive disorders that prevent mineral absorption
- Interference with antibiotics and other prescription medication
- Soil depletion, which has reduced the amount of magnesium in crop yields
- A loss of magnesium through excessive hormone production, rapid heartbeats, and muscle movement
- Kidney disorders, as the kidneys control magnesium levels in the body
How much magnesium do I need?
The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for magnesium increases slightly with age. Adult males under 30 require 400 mg, while women need 310 mg. From 31 up, the amounts increase to 420 mg and 320 mg, respectively.
So what do magnesium supplements do?
While our bodies don’t need copious amounts of magnesium to function well, small amounts of the mineral play an incredibly important role in our health and wellbeing. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical functions, from regulating your heartbeat to controlling enzyme production and cognitive function.
While the food we eat contains magnesium – providing that we are eating a healthy diet – we may not be consuming enough, and our bodies may not be absorbing it in the quantities we need. That’s where magnesium supplements come in. Taking them can help to regulate and increase our magnesium levels, which can have a significant impact on our symptoms and overall health.
How can magnesium affect our GABA levels?
One of the key benefits of magnesium is that it increases our gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. The magnesium binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, which puts the brakes on brain activity. When GABA levels are low, the brain feels like it is constantly switched on, which makes it very difficult to relax and can lead to increased stress and anxiety. This can make us feel disorganized, worried and overwhelmed, with thoughts racing through our minds and no way of shutting them off.
Low GABA levels can also contribute to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and panic attacks. There is a direct line of communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, and they share much of the same tissue, so if your gut is working overtime, your brain may follow suit. This can cause a range of problems such as reflux, diarrhea, constipation, and IBS, in addition to stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
When the gut is full of healthy bacteria, it regulates mood and positive feelings. Beneficial bacteria in the gut also increases GABA receptors in the brain to alleviate mood disorders. Likewise, higher magnesium levels can help to calm the mind, which eases and may even aid in healing disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. The healthier your gut is, the healthier your brain is likely to be, and vice versa.
What to look for in a magnesium supplement
It’s best to take magnesium supplements that are dissolved in water rather than taken in tablet form as the gut will absorb the liquid more easily, ensuring that it reaches your bloodstream. Magnesium L-Threonate, found in supplements like Magtein and Optimag Neuro, is the first form of magnesium proven to cross the blood-brain barrier. It aids healthy cognition, long and short-term memory, stress and anxiety management and healthy sleep. There are even some claims that it can help with male pattern baldness, though the evidence is largely anecdotal.
Where should I get my supplements?
As with all treatments, it’s best when they’re administered by a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. I firmly believe in integrative medicine, which means looking at the mind, body, and spirit to assess the causes of any symptoms you’re experiencing. Once we have established the root causes, we can come up with a holistic approach to treat them rather than simply easing your symptoms. If you are pregnant or have kidney problems, don’t take magnesium supplements without consulting a medical professional.
It might be that your integrative medical practitioner prescribes magnesium supplements alone, or does so along with other treatments, for example, a new diet planor a tailored exercise program. The aim is to heal your whole body, whether that simply means treating hypomagnesemia or addressing other issues such as poor gut health or a food intolerance. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or feel that your overall health is suffering, make an appointment with an integrative medical practitioner and start your journey towards a happier, healthier future.
Find out more about:
- The ways magnesium can relieve anxiety and stress
- Magtein and Optimag Neuro
- Magnesium L-Threonate