Magnesium (Mg) is a vitally important nutrient in so many aspects of health. It plays a role in controlling asthma and insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation, prevention of type-2 diabetes and creating energy (via ATP activation). It also helps regulate heart rate, mitigates muscle spasms, eye-twitches, symptoms of fibromyalgia and has a calming effect on the brain.
Low magnesium is known to cause anxiety, fatigue, nervousness, depression, insomnia, migraines, panic attacks and overall weakness. Studies continue to be published that show just how crucial maintaining a steady supply of Mg is for our body and brain to function, yet research shows that 3/4 of the US population is deficient
Magnesium deficiency is often called an “invisible deficiency” because the signs and symptoms, which are of both a neurological and physiological nature, are typically associated with signs of a medical disorder. As such, the medical system is set up to prescribe some type of medicine, rather than recommend dietary changes and supplementation as you would to address a known nutritional deficiency.
So why is it so hard to obtain sufficient Mg from our western diets, and what can you do to ensure you’re getting enough in your diet?
Part of the problem is that standard farming practices have been depleting the Mg content of our soil. So even when eating foods that are normally high in magnesium, the same food has less than when it was grown on the land 50 years ago. In addition, some farming herbicides will bind Mg , preventing it from being absorbed by the plants.
Dietary intake can also influence our body’s ability to absorb magnesium from our food and digestive system. If you eat magnesium, but it does not get into your blood, you don’t get the benefits. A diet high in sugar and excess alcohol creates a double whammy, affecting both your ability to properly absorb magnesium and increasing the amount that is excreted.
The best dietary sources of magnesium are dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and a healthy salt that has lots of magnesium. But in order to get the most mg, the cellulosic cell walls have to be broken. Some of this occurs from normal chewing, but in order to maximize absorption, high shear pulverization (blender) is best. Cooking greens is another way to enhance magnesium absorption – as much as 5x! So cooked spinach can have as much as five times more available magnesium than the same spinach eaten cold (and not blended). The downside of cooking your greens is that some of the more delicate phytonutrients and vitamins are destroyed in the cooking/boiling process. As you can see, there are a lot of trade-offs to consider when selecting the best dietary sources of magnesium.
What I like to do, is start off the day by drinking 8-10 oz of water with one packet of Boulder Salt (a truly healthy salt). It ensures 35% of the RDA for magnesium before I do anything else. It also provides a balanced blend of important electrolytes/minerals including sodium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate, and offers the added advantage of a strong alkalinizing effect on the body ( from the bicarbonate). I follow up with a nutritionally balanced smoothie for both breakfast and lunch, that includes a comprehensive blend of nuts and greens. Before dinner rolls around I’ve already greatly improved the odds that my body can ward off many of the symptoms of Mg deficiency!
Bruce Neeld is the founder and President of the Boulder Salt Company. He is a research scientist by day, and a holistic nutritionist by passion. He has studied nutrition for over 3o years and his personal health goals include warding off cancer, and to live to be 160 – or die trying.
What’s the story behind Boulder Salt? Click here: The story behind Boulder Salt!
What does Bruce put in his smoothies? See an example here!