Dietary intake of magnesium has gone down dramatically over the past 100 years. It is estimated that 68 to 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient. In places where water is harder, levels of magnesium are higher, and the incidence of coronary artery disease is lower. It appears, however, that 8 million deaths from sudden cardiac failure occurred in the United States between 1940 and 1994 because of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium performs many vital functions. It regulates the absorption of calcium and is involved in the structural integrity of bone. Without adequate magnesium, bones will be dense. Northern European countries, where the calcium to magnesium ratio is 4:1, have the highest rates of osteoporosis, as well.
Magnesium has an effect of relaxing smooth muscle and is therefore useful in conditions such as hypertension, dysmenorrhea, constipation, asthma, angina, stroke and myocardial infarct. It decreases coagulation and acts as a calcium channel blocker, helping the heart to pump more effectively and regulating blood pressure. It is involved in the function of more than 300 enzymes, as well as in regulating muscle contractility and nerve impulses. Virtually all body systems also rely on magnesium for at least some of their metabolic functions.
Dietary Requirements and Sources
Requirements of magnesium vary with age and certain conditions. The RDA for males is 350 mg/day; for females 280 mg/day, with pregnancy and lactation requiring 350 mg/day. Optimal intake is estimated to be between 600 and 800 mg/day. The best dietary sources of magnesium are whole grains, nuts and fruits. These include soy flour, buckwheat flour, tofu, figs, cashews, avocado, millet and brewer’s yeast.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can mimic many other disorders. These include fatigue, irritability, weakness, dysmenorrhea, muscle spasms or tightness, cardiomyopathy, anorexia, sugar cravings, hypertension, anxiety and poor nail growth.
The clinical use of magnesium can be applied to a variety of conditions. These include constipation, muscle cramping, acute angina following a myocardial infarct or stroke, asthma, kidney stone prevention (especially when given with vitamin B6) and dysmenorrhea. Other candidates for magnesium supplementation are GI spasms or cramping, eclampsia, heart disease (especially cardiomyopathy), diabetes mellitus, nocturnal muscle cramps, mitral valve prolapse, toxemia of pregnancy, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, lead toxicity, general fatigue, anxiety and irritability.
On your next visit, ask your doctor of chiropractic about your supplementation needs.