Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can cause disruption of normal cardiac rhythm that leads to heart attack. Lack of magnesium can enhance PMS symptoms such as muscle cramps, mood changes and appetite changes.

Magnesium deficiency can also causes neuromuscular malfunctions, convulsion and also depression. Symptoms include muscle weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and irritability. In severe cases, muscle spasms and seizures also occurred.

Who is at risk?

Deficiencies are not common, but may occur in people suffering from kidney disorders, recovering from intestinal surgery or those whose diets rely heavily on potatoes, starches and fatty meats.

Magnesium requirements are higher for pregnant women and lactating mothers. However, this is not necessarily alarming because the body will alert the kidneys to reabsorb almost all magnesium when magnesium intake is low.

The importance of magnesium for our body

Magnesium is needed in bone formation. Over 50 per cent of body’s magnesium is stored in bone. It promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption. These minerals are the most important ingredients in bone formation. Magnesium deficiency can lead to bone abnormalities including brittle bones and osteoporosis.

Magnesium is a co-factor that activates several enzymes thus affecting metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is involved in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP is essential in energy production.

It is important in muscle contractions, nerve impulses, neuromuscular transmissions and heartbeat regulation (the concentration of magnesium in the heart is 18 times higher compared to blood). It decreases blood coagulation and acts as a calcium channel blocker, helping the heart pump more effectively.

In addition, it has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle and possibly blood vessels. Uterine relaxation in response to magnesium may lessen the intensity of menstrual cramps.

Magnesium is also essential in protein, DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) syntheses. It also affects parathyroid hormone that regulates calcium and vitamin D levels in the blood.

The parathyroid gland, which regulates blood calcium level, also needs magnesium to function normally. In addition, it stabilizes both the internal structure and membranes of the cells.

The daily requirement of magnesium

The daily requirement for an adult is 300 mg.

Source of magnesium

Magnesium can be found in almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, beans, oats, prunes, walnuts, bananas, avocados and herbs such as alfalfa, chamomile, dandelion, horsetail, parsley and peppermint.

Food preparation

Processed food is highly lack of magnesium. Sugar, oil and alcohol that are used for cooking do not contain magnesium.

The practice of boiling vegetables not only destroys several water soluble vitamins but it causes a loss of magnesium as well. If vegetables are boiled, please save and use the water in the preparation of other foods because it retains many of the vitamins and all of the ‘lost’ magnesium.

Interactions of magnesium with others

Anti-cancer drug (cisplatin) increases magnesium excretion.

Digitalis preparations increase the risk of magnesium deficiency.

Diuretics (ethacrynic acid, sodium ethacrynate, furosemide, thiazides, mercurial), antibiotics (gentamicin sulphate, sulfisoxazole, sulfamethoxazole), isoniazid, cycloserine and para-amniosalicylic acid impair magnesium absorption.

Magnesium overdose/toxicity

Too much of it or magnesium overdose can cause kidney stones and renal impairment. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, extreme muscle weakness, drowsiness and difficulty in breathing.

Therapeutic uses

Magnesium is injected in heart attack patients as soon as they are admitted to the emergency room. It is also given to angina patients.

Magnesium is given to atherosclerosis patients because it prevents cholesterol from clogging in the arteries. It is also associated with blood pressure regulation, therefore, it is taken to lower the risk of hypertension.

Magnesium is used to treat asthma (improves lung functions) and diabetic patients (lowers the insulin resistance). It is also used together with zinc to treat migraines but evidences are weak.

Magnesium sulphate is given to cancer patients that have undergone radiation treatment. It is also used to treat the formation of calcium oxalates stones in the kidney.

Magnesium is also given to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.