Monday, October 21, 2013

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in our bodies that is vital to our health.  Yet many of us are deficient in it.  60% of the magnesium in our bodies is stored in our bones, 38 - 39% is stored in cells, and the remaining 1 - 2% is in the blood, where it is crucial for maintaining a regular heart beat.

So what else does magnesium do for us? It has roles in:

  • muscle and nerve function
  • immune function
  • blood pressure control
  • energy production
  • blood sugar regulation

In the standard American diet with processed and refined foods, much of the magnesium is lost in our diet through that processing. This is especially the case with refined wheat flour to white flour and brown rice to white rice.  Also, alcohol and caffeine deplete magnesium in our bodies - as does chronic stress.  Thus a significant proportion of the American population is deficient in magnesium.

Some of the signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • high blood pressure
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle spasms or twitching
  • poor sleep/insomnia
  • poor nail growth
  • tremor
All of these symptoms have more than one cause however, so if you think low magnesium may be an issue for you, discuss it with your health care practitioner.  It can be easily remedied and can make a big difference in how you feel.

An easy way to increase your magnesium levels is through the diet.  Eating a whole foods plant based diet is recommended - with no or minimal processed foods.  Add to that, some of the the following foods, which are good sources of magnesium:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • black beans
  • soy beans
  • spinach
  • swiss chard
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • brown rice
  • salmon
  • halibut
  • dark chocolate
I don't recommend you try a supplement, unless under the guidance of a health professional.  

I made some pumpkin seed milk this week, to give it a try. Here's the recipe:

1 cup pumpkin seeds (soaked 6 - 8 hours in water)
3 cups water

Discard the soak water from the seeds and place them in a high powered blender, like a Vitamix.  Add the water and blend on high until smooth.

Refrigerate and enjoy.  You can strain the milk if you prefer but you get all the goodness of the seeds if you don't strain it but just shake it before use.  A lovely creamy milk.

It doesn't taste like dairy milk so if you are making it and expecting it to have the same taste - it won't.  But it tastes nice. I had it on my cereal - but you can also use it for cooking and have it in smoothies etc as a great source of magnesium (and also zinc).

So if you have trouble sleeping at night, with restless legs, try a handful of pumpkin seeds in the evening or a square of dark chocolate (75% or more cocoa content).  Or start your day with a green smoothie made with pumpkin seeds and spinach.


Mary Lou Clark said...

Very good, thanks for another informative article.

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