Why is Magnesium Important?
As we can see above, magnesium provides support for multiple functions across our body. Physically, we benefit from magnesium in many ways including:
- Muscle development
- Energy production
- Nerve function
- Protein synthesis
- Blood pressure control
From a mental health standpoint, magnesium regulates the operation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors. From these receptors, we enable the formation of memories and stimulate learning.
Our ordinary brain function relies on glutamate as an excitatory neurotransmitter. However, when we develop excess glutamate, our cells become over-stimulated, which results in cellular death. This excitotoxicity also contributes to physical and neurological malfunctions such as stroke, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Magnesium serves as a neuroprotective and helps to inhibit this excitotoxicity, preventing damage to neurons throughout the central nervous system and blocking the activities of glutamate in the NMDA receptors. So, when we become magnesium deficient, fewer of the NMDA receptors are inhibited, leading to potential cellular damage.
As an essential micronutrient, magnesium can also be effective in treating and even preventing depression and anxiety as well as decreasing pain levels in the body.
How Do We Become Magnesium Deficient?
According to studies, most Americans do not receive the required amount of magnesium in their diet. The amount of magnesium our bodies require depends on several factors unique to each individual including age, sex, pregnancy, or nursing. Generally, adult men require 400 to 420 mg daily; and adult women need between 310 and 320 mg per day. Factors such as age, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status will alter these numbers.
There are several factors that can produce a magnesium deficiency:
- Inadequate diet – most dietary magnesium comes from plants. Diets that do not contain magnesium-filled plants will struggle to achieve a healthy level of magnesium. Plus, environmental factors will affect the amount of magnesium the same type of plant will absorb from soils found in different habitats. In other words, not all specimens of magnesium-filled plants will contain equal levels of this micronutrient.
- Chemicals – Other dietary factors will affect magnesium levels. Alcohol, caffeine, diuretics, and antacids will inhibit the body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
- Other supplements – There is a risk that other supplements may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb magnesium. Specifically, high levels of zinc supplements can pose this risk.
- Composition factors – When taking magnesium supplements, be aware that some forms of magnesium will provide better absorption than others.
- Stress – The body is uniquely prepared to handle stressful situations. However, one of these functions releases magnesium into our blood cells, which is later excreted through our kidneys. Chronic stress can lead to a magnesium deficiency when our bodies don’t replace this lost supply of magnesium.
Though magnesium deficiency is a risk, there are means to maintain proper levels for continued health.
How Can I Get the Magnesium My Body Needs?
Given the importance of magnesium to our overall health, we can see why it is important to keep our magnesium levels at adequate levels.
Our supply of magnesium is collected mostly through the small intestine. When our bodies are deficient in magnesium, the intake is increased. When our supply is sufficient, our body reduces absorption of magnesium. So, our bodies are prepared to naturally regulate our magnesium levels.
When measuring magnesium levels, it is important to know that our bones contain the bulk of our stored magnesium. Accordingly, it can be difficult to get an accurate reading of magnesium through blood tests, where only about 1 percent of our magnesium resides.
The best method to generate sufficient levels of this micronutrient is through a diet with foods rich in magnesium. Foods to consider include:
- Nuts/nut butters
- Whole grains
- Spinach / leafy greens
When dietary intake is not generating adequate levels of magnesium, supplements may be the next best source. However, be sure to work with your doctor to seek out the appropriate level as well as the proper form of supplement for you. Our bodies do not absorb all supplements the same, so it is important to identify the right one for your needs.
Is Magnesium Dangerous?
With proper precautions, magnesium is generally not dangerous by itself. However, there are concerns with certain forms of magnesium because they can produce laxative effects and interact with other medications negatively. Because of these considerations, it is vital that you work with your doctor and medical advisors to reduce complications and negative interactions with other medicines.
How Do I Live Healthy Now?
At Bridgepoint, we want to use our expertise and knowledge to guide you to a healthy lifestyle. Our clinicians and staff are trained to learn what’s affecting you and explore the true root cause of any malady you are experiencing.
From dietary guidance and supplements to all forms of therapy, we are prepared to assist you as you seek to live a healthy and normal life. Particularly in the area of micronutrients, we stand ready to find the right solutions to your nutritional concerns.
Contact us today to initiate a conversation and take your first step toward the healthy lifestyle you are seeking.
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