Magnesium: The “Miracle Mineral”
Magnesium has been described by many nutritionists and research scientists as “the miracle mineral.” And there is a broad range of reasons why. Magnesium delivers so many health benefits that it is the gift that just keeps on giving. Here is a list of the many benefits this miracle mineral gives: magnesium…
- Provides heart protection and lower risk of stroke. Magnesium is crucial for maintaining a healthy heartbeat; in fact, after bypass surgery, hospitals use intravenous magnesium to prevent atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heartbeat that can result in stroke-inducing blood clots). There are other reasons why magnesium acts as a moat against heart disease. Magnesium regulates heartbeats, protects against arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal pulse), and sweeps away excess calcium in the blood vessels, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, a known precursor of heart attack and stroke.
- Improves blood sugar levels. The chance of developing type II diabetes is dramatically slashed in people with high consumption of magnesium. Adequate levels of magnesium boost the body’s reaction to insulin, which removes sugar from the bloodstream.
- Reduces blood pressure. High magnesium levels improve circulation, which has been linked to lower blood pressure.
- Strengthens bones. One of the scariest things to happen to elderly folks is falling. More than 300,000 senior citizens are hospitalized every year with hip and femur fractures, and many never are the same. Osteoporosis (brittle bones) is a consequence of aging; by 2020, it is estimated that an astonishing one in two Americans will either have or be at risk of developing osteoporosis. This disease is the most common cause of fractures and can raise your risk of heart attack by 30%. Studies have shown that people with high levels of magnesium have a 44% reduced chance of developing fractures.
- Reduces cancer risk. Both pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer rates drop in individuals with high magnesium levels. This finding makes sense since approximately 80% of pancreatic cancer patients suffered from glucose intolerance or diabetes when they received their cancer diagnosis — and magnesium protects both of these conditions.
- Increases protection from dementia, headaches, depression, and other types of cognitive decline.
- Boosts kidney function. The kidneys are a real workhorse since they are responsible for filtering waste products from your blood. High blood pressure and elevated glucose levels take a horrific toll on kidney function and also lower magnesium levels. When that occurs, the kidneys lose their ability to regulate magnesium — a vicious cycle. The key is to avoid all of these problems in the first place, and ensuring that your magnesium levels are high is well-advised.
- Promotes longevity. Studies have determined that low levels of magnesium accelerate the aging process at the cellular level. This happens when the number of senescent cells increases. Senescent cells are old, worn out, dead cells that are unable to divide and can’t help in the healing process. Also, every one of these problems mentioned in this list is directly linked to aging. Your body needs magnesium, especially as you age.
- Prevents muscle cramps. Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle contraction and neuromuscular transmission. High levels of magnesium = fewer muscle cramps.
- Battles disease-causing inflammation. Inflammation is thought by many researchers to be one of the leading causes of disease and aging, perhaps the primary cause. Magnesium battles and lowers inflammation by reducing the action of NF-kB, a protein complex that regulates DNA and cell survival. NF-kB is sometimes referred to as the “master inflammation regulator.” When this protein is kept in check, the result is a downstream closure of cytokines and other inflammation-triggering molecules.
Why Magnesium is so Crucial to Your Good Health
Magnesium is the principal mineral in your body’s production of energy from fats and carbohydrates. It accomplishes this mission by controlling the stream of various mineral ions through the cells of your arteries, veins, muscles, brain and nerve cells.
Magnesium is especially vital for its role in electrically active cells, which are located in the body’s crucial areas (brain, muscles, heart). Magnesium also is the “traffic cop” that monitors insulin sensitivity, genome stability, inflammation, DNA upkeep and repair, and cell signaling.
This is why it earned the title of “miracle mineral” since it races throughout the entire body, attacking everything from depression and muscle cramps to high blood pressure and inflammation.
Here is a list of foods that will boost your magnesium levels:
- Spinach, along with other green vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts, especially sesame seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews
Why Most People Suffer From a Magnesium Shortage
At first glance, it seems impossible that a mineral as critical to good health as magnesium could be overlooked. But it is. Study after study has demonstrated that most Americans have low levels of this vital mineral.
Unbelievably, as many as 70% to 80% of Americans fall short of meeting their minimum magnesium needs. How could this be? In a country with grocery stores containing aisles and produce departments jammed-packed with magnesium-rich foods, how in the world could anyone be low on magnesium?
There are many reasons for this magnesium deficiency epidemic. Let’s take a look at them:
- Prescription drugs. Many prescription drugs eat up magnesium, especially commonly-prescribed proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s).
- Aging. As with so many health issues, aging makes a bad situation worse. As you age, your digestive system has a difficult time absorbing nutrients from food; and that includes magnesium.
- Processed foods. Processing foods have benefits such as giving foods a longer shelf life and added convenience. But this comes with a huge downside. Processing food, beverages, and condiments remove many oils, bran, and other crucial nutrients. This occurs during the heating process, and an unfortunate side effect is the removal of magnesium — at times, the total removal.
- Poor soil quality. The big agricultural companies (Big Agra) are concerned, first and foremost, with profit. This means not practicing crop rotation and altering food structures to pump out crops quicker and more massive than what mother nature intended. This has led to declines in the vitamins and minerals in our food, especially magnesium. Studies have demonstrated that crops that are planted, grown, and harvested traditionally have retained their vitamin and mineral levels. Sadly, this is often not the case with crops raised by modern farming methods. Also, remember that unlike many other minerals, magnesium is not manufactured inside the plant. Therefore, the magnesium in our food is determined by the magnesium in the soil the plants are grown in. In the mad quest for profits, soil quality is not given the priority and attention it deserves. Consequently, the magnesium that we can get from our food drops.
- The Standard American Diet (SAD). Fast-food, copious amounts of sugar, food additives, sodas, oils, cookies, cakes, pies, and fried foods all add up — and take a terrible toll on our health in general, and our magnesium levels in particular.
- Pesticides. The extensive use of pesticides is strongly related to poor soil quality. Here’s why. Pesticides, like food processing, protect crops by decimating unwanted bugs, rodents, and weeds. But it can also eradicate the healthy elements in the soil, such as earthworms and beneficial bacteria. The result? Lower vitamin and mineral content in our food, including magnesium.
- Fertilizers. Organic fertilizers do not affect the vitamin and mineral composition of crops. But they are expensive compared to potash, a conventional fertilizer. Therefore, potash is the fertilizer of choice far more often than organic fertilizer on the massive agricultural farms. The result is, once again, a drop in magnesium. Also, nitrogen-based fertilizers that are prevalent in today’s farming methods make crops larger, but less nutritious.
Therefore, the case for supplementation has been made.
Should You Consider Taking a Magnesium Supplement?
Yes. Magnesium supplements are safe, inexpensive, and are available without a prescription from your physician. When considering all the reasons for the prevalence of magnesium shortages that affect so many people, it is evident that it’s hard, if not impossible, to obtain sufficient amounts of magnesium through balanced and healthy eating.
The nutritional quality of fresh produce in our grocery stores is diminished from what was planted and grown on the small farms of days gone by. Quality food alone cannot supply you with adequate amounts of magnesium. This does not mean you should feel free to load up on junk foods and swallow a magnesium supplement.
Smart, clean eating habits are the foundation for obtaining your optimum magnesium levels. But supplements need to be a part of the mix. There are several types of magnesium supplements available.
All have pros and cons. Magnesium Citrate is highly absorbed but contains a small amount of magnesium for its size. Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed but includes a denser amount of magnesium, so perhaps a combination of these two is hard to beat. The “Recommended Daily Allowance,” or RDA, for magnesium in the United States is approximately 400 mg daily for men and 300 mg daily for women.
Assuming you are obtaining these levels through food, consider supplementing with 300 or 400 mg, divided up into two doses, one in the morning and one in the evening.
Magnesium is water soluble, so taking it on an empty stomach ensures maximum absorption and benefit. Finally, consider two other sources of boosting your magnesium levels: mineral water and Epsom salt baths.
The “Rodney Dangerfield” of Minerals
Until recently, few people have understood the broad range of benefits magnesium delivers, and the devastating, debilitating consequences of a lack of magnesium.
Fortunately, those days are rapidly receding into the rear-view mirror. The word is out: magnesium plays a key role in numerous vital functions that keep your body running smoothly.
Your body needs magnesium. Don’t neglect this all-important mineral.
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