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An Ounce of Prevention | Magnesium helps migraine and mental health

Published:Wednesday | August 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Nuts are a good source of the mineral magnesium.

Many minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, selenium and zinc are well known and promoted as good for you health. Unfortunately, another key mineral, magnesium is often neglected. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is most predominant in the bones, muscles and nervous system. It is required in over 300 different important biochemical reactions in our bodies and is absolutely vital for health and wellness.

However, medical research shows that magnesium deficiency is widespread worldwide and may contribute to a long list of common medical disorders. For example, the average magnesium consumption in the US is about 300 mg/day, but up to 1000 mg/day is needed to help prevent killers like heart attacks and strokes. The popular use of soft drinks, alcohol, animal fats and sugar depletes magnesium from the body and several prescription drugs like diuretics (water tablets), digitalis, tetracycline and steroids also lead to magnesium loss. To make matters worse, our modern water supply (including bottled water) lacks enough magnesium.

Conditions related to magnesium deficiency:

Angina, asthma, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heart beat, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, Irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, dizziness, irritability, nervousness, seizures, poor concentration, migraines headaches, muscle cramps, spasms and weakness, kidney stones,premenstrual (PMS) symptoms, menstrual pain, sugar cravings and temper tantrums are just some of the conditions related to magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium is widely distributed in whole unprocessed foods: green leafy vegetables, apples, bananas, avocados, legumes, soybeans, tofu, peas, beans, nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium. All green foods have magnesium and green vegetable juices are great sources of this key mineral. Herbs and spices like chamomile, dandelion, garlic, hops and kelp also supply magnesium.




Magnesium and the heart

One of the most important benefits of magnesium is that it lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, the number one killer. Surveys also show that sufficient magnesium intake may reduce the risk of stroke, the third commonest cause of death. Magnesium deficiency increases the risk of abnormal heartbeat and death following a heart attack. Adequate magnesium is very beneficial to the heart and circulation.

Magnesium and blood pressure

Magnesium plays a key role in naturally regulating blood pressure and most people with high blood pressure are magnesium deficient. The expensive hypertension prescription drugs known as 'calcium channel blockers'(e.g. Norvasc) prevent calcium from invading the walls of the blood vessels (hardening the arteries) and raising blood pressure. Inexpensive magnesium is nature's safe calcium channel blocker.

Using magnesium supplements along with a magnesium rich diet including plenty of green vegetables and fruits help lower high blood pressure.

Magnesium helps diabetes

Individuals with a magnesium deficiency are at increased risk of developing Type-2 diabetes and its complications. Magnesium aids in carbohydrate metabolism and influences insulin activity and blood sugar control. Research shows that for every 100 milligrams of increased daily magnesium intake, there was a 15 per cent fall in the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. Studies also show that diabetics with magnesium deficiency are more likely to have severe diabetic retinopathy and lose their sight.

Magnesium benefits migraines and mental health

Magnesium is so important to the nervous system that the brain stores twice as much magnesium as other organs. Magnesium is useful for treating migraine, insomnia, and depression. Magnesium is also helpful inmany psychiatric disorders including panic attacks, stress, anxiety disorders and agitation. Magnesium supplements considerably reduce the severity of these problems and may also help to prevent them. Magnesium is often called the anti-stress mineral because it has a calming effect, induces restful sleep and is very useful for the person with an overactive nervous system or who is anxious or agitated.

Magnesium corrects osteoporosis

It may not be more calcium that you need for strong bones but magnesium. Although many western women have increased their calcium intake, osteoporosis has increased instead of going down. Magnesium deficiency alters calcium metabolism resulting in osteoporosis. Research studies show that calcium plus magnesium supplementation improves bone density. Magnesium is very important in preventing osteoporosis.




Magnesium for constipation

Relief from constipation is another benefit of magnesium. If your body has insufficient calcium and magnesium, you may have weak peristalsis, which are those automatic contractions that happen during a bowel movement. Peristalsis moves food through the colon, and a lack of calcium and magnesium, may slow or stop this action causing constipation.

Magnesium for asthma

Magnesium relaxes the airways and acts as a bronchodilator for asthma. Magnesium administered intravenously work even when powerful drugs fail to stop an asthma attack. Doctors may know about the use of IV magnesium for asthma attacks, but a 2006 survey showed that patients seen in hospital for acute attacks were rarely given magnesium.

Magnesium prevents kidney stones

Research at Harvard University clearly demonstrated that supplementing with magnesium along with vitamin B6 significantly reduces the formation of most kidney stones.

Magnesium supplements

In addition to eating magnesium rich foods, I advise taking magnesium supplements. The best absorbed forms of magnesium includes magnesium aspartate, chloride, orotate citrate, glycinate or malate capsules. When combining magnesium with calcium use a ratio of one part magnesium to two parts calcium. Vitamin C taken at the same time improves the absorption of magnesium. Between 600 to 1000 mg of magnesium daily in divided dosage is usually an adequate dosage.

Soaking in a bath with magnesium chloride (magnesium oil) or magnesium sulfate, better known as Epsom salts is also an excellent way to administer magnesium as the mineral can be absorbed directly through your skin. You can even spray it unto your skin and massage it in as an excellent way to soothe and relax your body while enjoying the many benefits of magnesium.

People with advanced kidney disease should consult their doctor about the use of magnesium supplements.

- You may email Dr Vendryes at tonyvendryes@gmail.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Visit www.tonyvendryes.com for details on his books and articles.