Hey everyone, hope you’ll have been doing well! Sorry for my long absence. Things went pretty much hay-wire & I had to get my priorities straight. Anyways, here I am with you’ll again! Because I’ve decided to prioritize being with you’ll & provide the know-how which you can apply in your lives for a better health outcome, for a better tomorrow & this is what I love doing! So, in today’s episode, as well as the episode that I’ll be putting out tomorrow, we’ll be discussing all about Magnesium. By the end of today’s episode you’ll know why I chose to speak about it solo, why its so important. So, today I’ll start by very briefly talking about some of the functions of magnesium followed by the early signs of its deficiency & how it tends to manifest. While in tomorrow’s episode we’ll talk about, how to avoid magnesium depletion, foods rich in magnesium, different forms of magnesium, understanding the meaning of magnesium levels in lab reports. I’d also like to remind you’ll that I’ve provided a link to the transcript which also includes the links to scientific literature, along with the built-in player so you can also listen along while reading, if you wish. Link in the show-notes.
Okay so, let’s get started! Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is responsible for over 600 enzyme reactions that influence various functions of the body, like, memory function, regulating mood & stress, muscle relaxation & sleep, blood glucose control, healthy bone density, cardiovascular support, detoxification, gut motility, calcium balance & bone density, calming the nervous system, pain relief & relaxation of muscles, joint & ligament flexibility, deep sleep, optimal blood circulation & blood pressure, cellular energy production & lots more. It is found in all tissues of the body but mainly in the bones, muscles, and brain. In fact, a lot of diseases are tied to low magnesium levels in the body eg, premenstrual syndrome, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic immune disorder, even cancer! (1). And its deficiency can prove life-threatening, not directly but indirectly since it causes an imbalance in the body, leading to downstream diseases. But, there’s some good news, magnesium is a low-toxicity nutrient, which means the negative side-effects of excessive magnesium intake is often, gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea. However I’d still not recommend going crazy with high dosages unless deemed necessary & recommended by a healthcare professional. And in certain conditions like chronic kidney disease, especially when the kidneys are not filtering well & in the case of diabetes nephropathy which is different from neuropathy which is nerve related. Also when a person is on dialysis, in the case of addison’s disease, hypothyroid function & when on medications especially antidepressants, bisphosphonates (which is used for osteoporosis), diuretics & antibiotics. So, basically in an event which may prevent excretion of excessive magnesium from the body, basically a build-up of magnesium which can negatively affect the heart & may cause problems like difficulty in breathing, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure or worst case scenario, even cardiac arrest! So, the best practice would be to first try & reduce, or better, to altogether eliminate the factors that are contributing to the deficiency in the first place while focusing on eating real foods and then later addressing the shortcomings, preferably under the guidance of a healthcare professional. We’ll be discussing that further, tomorrow.
Now, don’t misconstrue magnesium to be baneful to cardiovascular health just because I enunciated the negative effects of it on cardiovascular system due to high dosages in certain scenarios. In reality, being deficient in magnesium might contribute to accelerated aging in the cardiovascular system, while also preventing healthy cell regeneration that is responsible for the downstream
symptoms and disorders that are generally associated with “normal” aging. Infact, magnesium plays an important role to keep the cells of the heart working & we all know that the heart’s
muscle cells know how to contract automatically, without a signal from the brain & these contractions help to keep the blood pumping. Its also an antioxidant, magnesium prevents free radicals from damaging the heart! So imagine how important magnesium is. Let me give you a fun fact. In cardiovascular function, magnesium controls the relaxation of the heart by clearing out the calcium, since calcium controls the contraction of the heart. Hence deficiency of Magnesium can lead to arrhythmia, simply because it disturbs the electrical rhythm. And it not just clears out calcium from the heart, its also does so from rest of the body & its deficiency, may add on to a Calcium buildup causing problems like tendinitis, bursitis, arthritis, kidney stones, gall stones, high blood pressure, etc. So, when the Magnesium Calcium ratio is out of whack, nerves are more susceptible to stress & pain perception. And speaking of calcium buildup, it can lead to neurotoxic effects wherein the brain cells are overstimulated which is a major factor in the formation of headaches & migraines. Hence magnesium can help decrease the frequency & intensity of migraine headaches (2) since it helps in regulating the calcium balance.
Basically, a deficiency of magnesium really affects the brain apart from what we just discussed. It negatively impacts sleep, causes irritability, anxiety, mood imbalances, chronic stress, inability to focus, it can basically lead to ADD & ADHD. And if you’re wondering, ‘How on earth is that possible!!??’ Firstly, magnesium has a critical role to play in the production of GABA in the brain. If you’re wondering what GABA is, its an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a calming neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitter is a brain chemical that helps cells communicate with each-other in & around the brain & nerves, basically regulating our thought patterns and behaviors like motivation, sleep, focus and much more. And as for inhibitory, as the name suggests, it is involved in inhibiting, basically stopping or slowing down, so we can be calm & relaxed. And so, without sufficient GABA, you won’t be feeling that calmn & relaxed, you’ll be feeling just the opposite. And speaking of opposite, there’s also another neurotransmitter called ‘Glutamate’ which is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter & as it suggests, its role is to excite or stimulate the brain & nervous cells making it able to receive critical information, hence its also involved with our ability to learn & memorize or any other activity that requires high energy & intense focus. Now, if you don’t have enough magnesium, you won’t be able to produce enough GABA neither will you be able to convert excess glutamate to GABA with the help of Vitamin B6. Hence you can accumulate excess glutamate which is not good because it can push you into the perception of unmanageable stress which can further lead to anxiety. And another crazy thing is that, stress causes depletion of magnesium, so its easy to get stuck in this vicious cycle.
One of the early signs of magnesium deficiency is fatigue & low endurance, because the role of magnesium in energy production is indispensable because the mitochondria heavily relies on it for energy production (3) & of course our brain contains mitochondria as well, so mental performance is likely to slump also. Further more, just like in the heart, magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker to help muscles relax. So, if your body doesn’t have enough magnesium, muscle contractions can become weak and uncoordinated, leading to involuntary spasms like in the eyelids, while the effects of excessive calcium can cause painful cramps which usually tend to occur in the lower body. While women could experience heightened PMS related cramping. And it just doesn’t end there. There are muscles involved in the digestion of food as well. You must’ve heard of peristalsis, its the involuntary contraction of the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to push the food downwards & when there is insufficient magnesium, that also gets negatively impacted & I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole since its pretty deep & requires separate episodes which I will make in the future. For now, I’d just call it ‘The Pandora’s Box Effect’ because almost always, disease begins in the gut! And in-short one can experience gastrointestinal discomfort, constipation, basically IBS related symptoms.
Okay & lastly, magnesium is required for the production of Calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, basically to activate vitamin D and move it around (4) and a magnesium deficiency can reduce calcitriol and even impair the parathyroid hormonal response (5). Plus, when there’s a magnesium deficiency, the body starts drawing out magnesium from its own reserves, the bones & teeth! And if the deficiency is not addressed, over time it can lead to bone loss & achy joints.
And while I was preparing for today’s episode, I stumbled upon a few fascinating scientific researches that point out to magnesium deficiency as being a contributing factor towards an increase in oxidation of tissues and lipoproteins, along with reduction in glutathione levels (6) (7) (8) (9), which means, magnesium deficiency is one of the main drivers of cardiovascular disease!! (10). Oh & a side note, glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant which is produced endogenously. So, its highly essential to have your magnesium levels in place to keep inflammation and oxidative stress, in check.
Alright, with that we come to an end of today’s episode. To sum it up, magnesium is a calming mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff, whether it’s a body part or mood, it’s a sign of magnesium deficiency. And early signs of magnesium deficiency include, low endurance, sleep disruption, irritability, cramping in calfs or feet, numbness, tingling, mood & behavioral disorders, fatigue (mental, emotional & physical), constipation & headaches, poor cognitive processing, increased inflammation & oxidative stress, bone & joint issues & arrhythmia. And as always, there’s more, magnesium has a role to play in many many functions but these are the ones you should know about & by now, I’m sure you get it. The point is, to keep your magnesium reserves, appropriately stocked! With that, I thank you for sticking around & I’ll see you’ll tomorrow!