A number of years ago, I was an avid listener to a weekly radio show featuring a Doctor, who will remain nameless for this story, who is an absolute guru in all things science. His background was medicine, it’s just his passion was science, space and all the unanswered questions in the world. What he would do is get people to phone in with questions and he would do his best to answer them. Most of the time successfully, sometimes not so successfully. After all, nobody knows everything!
One day he had a question regarding muscle spasms, which he was unable to answer. In these situations he encouraged the listeners to call in with their answers. There were a number of answers submitted, with one saying the guy was probably magnesium deficient. Which is what it sounded like to me. Upon hearing this, the Doctor said “Magnesium? What would we need magnesium for?”
I had recently been reading up on magnesium, and was totally shocked with his answer. I thought the benefits of it were quite well known. So this leads me to this weeks post – What would we need magnesium for?
Here is just a couple of reasons why we need Magnesium –
• Muscle Function. People who are deficient tend to have overly tight muscles and frequent muscle spasms (especially at night when trying to sleep). It also helps our muscles to contract and relax during exercise more efficiently when exercising.
• Improved Sleep. It helps the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. It also helps alleviate stress, the number one reason people struggle to sleep!
• Bowel Health. Your bowels are reliant on magnesium to help get your “movements” regular and prevent constipation. A symptom of too much magnesium is actually loose bowel movements. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing colorectal cancer dropped by 13%.
• Hydration. Magnesium is an important electrolyte needed for proper hydration of your cells.
• Enzyme Function. The other week I spoke about the importance of enzymes. Magnesium is needed to activate these enzymes, otherwise they would not be able to so their job.
• Insulin Production. Magnesium aids in the production of insulin. Without insulin, we cannot get the glucose into our cells for our energy. The high blood sugar associated with this is very damaging to our bodies. Think diabetes!
• PH. The PH of your body is regulated by using a number of resources. One being magnesium.
• Bone Health. Without magnesium, the calcium in our bodies can not do its job of strengthening our bones.
• Heart Health. The heart is a muscle, so relies on magnesium just like the rest of our muscles. A deficiency can result in abnormal heart rhythms, leading to heart attack or even stroke and a poorer recovery if you have had a heart attack.
• Hypertension. Also known as high blood pressure, magnesium has been shown to be effective at normalizing blood pressure
• Migraines. People who are deficient tend to have more frequent migraine attacks.
To list all the benefits of magnesium would take pages which I’m sure none of you would really want to read. In fact, it is responsible for over 300 bodily functions so the benefits can not be denied. Dosage should be around 400 mg per day for the average person, increasing slightly for the over 50’s.
With anything, the best source of magnesium is food, with supplements providing a backup when deficiency is suspected.
Some of the best sources of magnesium are almonds, spinach, cashews, avocado and banana. Things like soy milk are also listed as a good source, but I am not a fan of soy in any way. Read here for the reasons why.
So what would we need magnesium for?
P.S. If you would like to learn more on magnesium, the best book I can recommend is by Dr Carolyn Dean (MD, ND) called “The Miracle Of Magnesium”. Really worth a read.