Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Magnesium Leachers: The Case for Supplemental Magnesium Keeps Growing

I've been writing about magnesium of late, for support in healthy heart rhythms as well as allergy alleviation. I must confess that I've fallen in love with magnesium, partly because of some of the things I favor in my diet and partly because of my temperament.

First of all, cocoa, chocolate, nuts (especially almonds, cashews, and peanuts), seeds, spinach, other greens, and even berries have oxalates, which may interfere with the uptake of magnesium (as well uptake of calcium and zinc). Funny how that works, since a lot of these foods are naturally magnesium rich.

Second, some of these "magnesium-rich" foods are less so today, due to changed mineral composition of soils (caused by commercial fertilizers that are rich in phosphorous and potassium). Phosphorus and potassium compete with magnesium causing crops to have depleted magnesium stores.

Processed foods (not my normal fare), demineralized waters and any kind of sodas, flouride (I avoid flouridated water and toothpaste), and even lactose (from dairy products) all interfere with absorption of magnesium.

Cooking greens leaches magnesium much more than calcium, and then there's this little issue that the body does not hold on to magnesium as well as it hangs on to calcium and iron (magnesium is more water soluble, which is why it is so easy to lose).

But the biggest leach of all? Mental and physical stress. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation article on "The Neglected Mineral We Cannot Live Without:"

"Mental and physical stress, with its related continuous flow of adrenaline, uses up magnesium rapidly, as adrenaline affects heart rate, blood pressure, vascular constriction and muscle contraction— actions that all demand steady supplies of magnesium for smooth function. The nervous system depends upon sufficient magnesium for its calming effects, including restful sleep. Hibernating animals, by the way, maintain very high levels of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency will accelerate a vicious cycle and amplify the effects of chronic stress, leading to more anxiety, irritability, fatigue and insomnia—many of the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion—as well as to hypertension and heart pains—symptoms of heart disease."

Magnesium is a big relaxer for muscles and the nervous system, so high stress and type A personalities (ahem, I may resemble that one) lead to larger magnesium requirements.

Another big magnesium leach? Sweating--whether from exercise or menopausal hot flashes. According to the American Nutrition Association, loss of magnesium with hot flashes leads to increased irritability and mood swings, so a lot of researchers are starting to recommend magnesium supplementation for women suffering from the pains of menopause and/or PMS.

So a little heart rhythm curiosity spiked my interest in magnesium. If you're reading this blog, perhaps your interest has been spiked too. Write to me if you've discovered the benefits of magnesium in your life.

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