When you work in a busy health care clinic with multiple practitioners, there are times when you can see public health trends clear as day. Aside from the waves of viruses that roll through during the winter months, one of the more common trends observed is magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical processes in the body and plays a key role in immune function, proper blood pressure, calcium absorption, hormone regulation and blood sugar regulation. With so many important physiologic roles in the body, it’s easy to see why having sufficient levels of magnesium can greatly influence health.
Why are so many people magnesium deficient?
Magnesium is naturally found in many foods, but the refining process removes all or most magnesium. Refined flours, refined oils and refined sugars are all either void of magnesium completely or left with trace amounts of what the body requires. With refined flours, oils and sugar being the backbone of most processed foods and foods that you can get on the go, it’s easy to see how people begin to lose magnesium sources from their diet.
Another reason for more people presenting with magnesium deficiencies lies in the soil. The soil we grow our food in has become increasing more inert due to the use of pesticides and fertilizers as well as single crop growing methods. Potash, a commonly used potassium fertilizer easily absorbed by plants, actually reduces the amount of both magnesium and calcium absorbed by the plant. Levels of vitamins and minerals found in foods grown are not regulated by the FDA.
The use of chlorine and fluoride to treat water bind to magnesium in the body and do not allow us to uptake it. We often flush the magnesium we do get from food sources due to the presence of chlorine and fluoride found in the water we consume.
In addition, alcohol, sugar and caffeine consumption delete magnesium in our tissues. Stress can also deplete magnesium. Having too much calcium in the bloodstream is a result of magnesium depletion as well as a product of magnesium deficiency: it’s a positive feedback loop. When taking all of these into account, once can begin to see how it is possible that so many different people with varied health concerns can all potentially have a mineral deficiency.
What does a magnesium deficiency look like?
- Muscle spasms and cramping
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Sleep problems
- Low energy (possibly with brain fog)
- Feelings of anxiety & depression
How to increase magnesium levels?
Living near the ocean and swimming in it regularly is a great way to increase magnesium levels. The soil found near oceans is also very high in magnesium, so the food you ingest will have naturally occurring higher levels of magnesium. If that’s not an option for you, consider a supplement. Standard Process is a wonderful supplement that uses whole foods to create their products. If you have Celiac or are gluten intolerant, I recommend the brand Calm.
With many people having compromised digestive functioning, using transdermal magnesium may be a great way to supplement. Try this magnesium spray at night before bed: Magnesium Oil Spray. It’s easy and economical to make your own as well. Check out this valuable resource: Make Your Own Magnesium Oil.
While supplementing magnesium in your diet is not a catch-all for any health complaint, it does play a significant role in any holistic health routine. Adding magnesium supplementation into your diet may prove to have multiple benefits, beyond your primary health concern. In addition to supplementation, it’s always nice to understand which foods are rich in minerals and to supply the body with diverse food options.
Chart of Magnesium Rich Foods
|[Source: http://www.ars.usda.gov/, www.nutritiondata.com]||Serving Size, Common Units||Serving Size, Grams||Milligrams Magnesium||Milligrams Magnesium per Gram||% Daily Value (DV)|
|Cocoa, unsweetened||2 tbsp.||10||52||5.24||14%|
|Bran Breakfast Cereal, ready to eat||1 oz.||28||78||2.78||19%|
|Cashews, dry roasted||1 oz.||28||73||2.61||18%|
|Pumpkin Seeds, roasted||1 oz.||28||73||2.61||18%|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1 oz.||28||49||1.75||12%|
|Peanut Butter||2 tbsp.||32||49||1.53||12%|
|Whole Wheat Bread, homemade||1 slice||28||37||1.32||9%|
|Navy Bean Sprouts, raw||1 oz.||28||28||1.01||7%|
|Spinach, boiled||1/2 cup||90||79||0.87||20%|
|Whole Wheat Bread, store bought||1 slice||28||23||0.82||6%|
|Coffee, espresso||2 oz.||60||48||0.80||12%|
|Spinach, raw||1 cup||30||24||0.79||6%|
|Quinoa, cooked||1/2 cup||92.5||59||0.64||15%|
|Milk Chocolate||1 oz.||28||18||0.63||4%|
|Soybeans, boiled||1/2 cup||90||54||0.60||14%|
|Black-Eyed Peas (Cowpeas), boiled||1/2 cup||87.5||46||0.52||12%|
|Buckwheat Groats (Kasha), cooked||1/2 cup||84||43||0.51||11%|
|Parsley, raw||1 oz.||28||14||0.50||3%|
|Lima Beans, boiled||1/2 cup||94||40||0.43||10%|
|Acorn squash, baked||1/2 cup||102.5||44||0.43||11%|
|Swiss Chard||1/2 cup||175||75||0.43||19%|
|Artichokes||1 whole medium||120||50||0.42||13%|
|Egg, fried||1 whole large||46||18||0.39||3%|
|Bacon, pan-fried||3 oz.||85||31||0.36||8%|
|Pork Tenderloin, broiled||3 oz.||85||31||0.36||8%|
|Okra, boiled||1 cup||160||58||0.36||14%|
|Bulgur Wheat, cooked||1/2 cup||91||29||0.32||8%|
|Whole Wheat Spaghetti||1/2 cup||70||21||0.30||6%|
|Parsnips, boiled||1/2 cup||78||23||0.29||6%|
|Chicken Breast, roasted||3 oz.||85||24||0.29||6%|
|Ground Beef, pan browned||3 oz.||85||24||0.28||6%|
|Broccoli, boiled||1/2 cup||78||16||0.21||4%|
|Pasta Sauce||1/2 cup||128||27||0.21||7%|
|Potatoes, boiled without skin||1 cup||156||31||0.20||8%|
|Milk, 2%||1 cup||244||27||0.11||7%|
|Coffee, from grounds||6 oz.||178||5||0.03||1%|
Julie Baron is an East Asian Medicine Practitioner at the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. Julie seeks to empower individuals and communities. As a movement and mindfulness educator, she has a penchant for functional anatomy. As an EAMP, she has also has a passion for herbal medicine.