Are you feeling consistently tired, you can’t sleep and your muscles seem to cramp too often. If these sound familiar, you might be suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Official blood tests can be helpful to confirm any self-diagnosis, but there is no harm in trying a magnesium supplement to relieve some of these symptoms.
Why your body loves magnesium
Magnesium is one of the miracle minerals that helps your body function; it is vital to nerve and muscle function, blood coagulation, keeping you energised, nutrient absorption and bone and cell generation.
Give your body a helping hand
Older adults are more likely to experience or become vulnerable to low magnesium levels. Ageing, stress and susceptibility to disease all contribute to the fact that we need more magnesium. The problem is that if you are older, you’re likely not absorbing or consuming enough magnesium in your food. And if you’re unaware of your magnesium levels, you’re probably not doing anything about it.
As you age certain functions in your body decline. Your ability to absorb and retain magnesium becomes impaired as your gastro-intestinal tract and kidneys change.
If you’re over the age of 55 and experiencing common symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it’s important to consider improving how much and from where you receive your magnesium.
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Do you have a magnesium deficiency?
Low magnesium levels manifest in many ways that are easy to identify. Some of the symptoms overlap with those of other conditions and deficiencies – much like most conditions – but are especially common to low magnesium levels. You might have had an unexplained tick under your eye that you thought was a result of lacking sleep. You could be right, but it could also be due to insufficient magnesium. Here’s why:
Neurological – Many people experience anxiety, hyperactivity, and difficulty getting to or staying asleep. These are the neurological signs of low magnesium levels. Since nerve function is dependent on sufficient magnesium, it is no surprise that these symptoms will start to manifest over time.
Muscular – Other common symptoms are painful muscle spasms or cramping, facial tics, eye twitches, or involuntary eye movements. Magnesium is part of the system that enables your muscles to relax and contract. It works together with calcium, the contraction element, with its role as a muscle relaxant. When there is an imbalance, your muscles are prone to atrophy and cramping.
No-go zones for magnesium
Stress – Studies have shown that both physical and emotional stress can lead to a magnesium deficiency. Your body needs magnesium when you are under stress, but because stress can cause a deficiency, it worsens the ‘stress reaction,’ increasing cortisol and adrenaline.
Sugary and carbonated foods – If you are drinking fizzy drinks fairly often, you are likely decreasing your body’s natural absorption abilities. This is due to the fact that phosphates in carbonated drinks attach to magnesium in the blood, rendering the magnesium unusable to your body.
Refined sugar has a zero-magnesium count. On top of that, it causes your kidneys to excrete whatever magnesium you do have. Not only does sugar strip your body of magnesium, it is the main dietary culprit for stripping or depriving your natural vitamin and mineral absorption. The more sugar you eat, the less good comes from other foods you eat. We’re not saying don’t eat sugar – for most of us that’s almost impossible. It’s important though, to maintain a healthy balance when you’re trying to achieve the most effective diet.
Caffeine and alcohol – Your kidneys manage a significant amount of your body’s magnesium levels, by filtering and excreting excess magnesium and other minerals. Both caffeine and alcohol cause your kidneys to unnecessarily excrete extra magnesium stores, regardless of your levels. As a society of tea and coffee drinkers, and drinkers in general, our risk of magnesium deficiency significantly increases. It is important to moderate the amount of caffeine and alcohol you are consuming.
Other causes – There are many other causes for magnesium deficiency such as reactions to specific medications, namely diuretics, heart medication, asthma medication, birth control pills or oestrogen replacement therapy. They have a similar impact on your kidneys to caffeine and alcohol ingestion. Another cause of exacerbated deficiency is taking a calcium supplements without taking a magnesium supplement with a comparative dosage. By only taking calcium, you may reduce magnesium absorption and retention. Conversely, a magnesium supplement can actually improve the body’s use of calcium.