Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral
An important mineral that is often overlooked in modern medicine, magnesium is essential to several hundred different functions in the body. Mark Sircus, Ac,. OMD, director of the International Medical Veritas Association and author of several books on the subject of magnesium, believes that 68% of Americans do not consume enough magnesium to meet the government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA), and that the government’s RDA is already set too low to adequately prevent illness.
“If you do not have sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body cannot make or utilize protein,” says Dr. Sircus. “Similarly, if you don’t have adequate amounts of magnesium, the vitamin C and E that you consume cannot be used.”
Health effects of magnesium deficiency
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle states that up to 80 percent of the population may be suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to more than 20 different health conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Gynecological conditions in women, such as PMS and cramping
- Tooth decay
- Muscle twitches, tics, and spasms
- Muscle aches
- Back pain
- Kidney stones
- Attention deficit disorder
- Jaw pain or dysfunction
The benefits of magnesium
In addition to relieving the health conditions listed above, magnesium helps maintain memory function, is responsible for overall energy production, removes toxins and heavy metals from the body, and decreases signs of aging. Topically applied magnesium can help smooth out wrinkles and relieve skin conditions such as psoriasis. Rubbed directly into arthritic joints, magnesium can provide instant pain relief. And, because magnesium is responsible for muscle relaxation, it may even help women achieve orgasm more easily. On her web site, Dr. Dean shares the story of a female patient who experienced easier orgasms after just one week on magnesium supplements.
Magnesium is also responsible for the action of the heart muscle, the formation of bones and teeth, proper bowel function, and relaxation of blood vessels.
Magnesium and heart disease
According to Dr. Dean, major studies conducted on magnesium show that when patients were given magnesium as soon as possible after a heart attack and before any other drugs, the damage to the heart was greatly reduced. Administering intravenous magnesium to patients following a heart attack reduced the chance of death by more than half. Magnesium is particularly beneficial in combating heart disease due to its ability to dilate blood vessels and dissolve blood clots, prevent spasms in the heart, and counteract calcium buildup, which increases spasms.
Magnesium and calcium
With our current emphasis on calcium consumption, many Americans are experiencing an imbalance between calcium and magnesium. Research on the Paleolithic diet shows that our bodies evolved to maintain a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio. Some researchers, however, believe the calcium to magnesium ratio in the average American is closer to 6:1. Continued emphasis on calcium intake creates an even greater magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium in food sources
Obtaining adequate levels of magnesium through diet alone can be very difficult. The best sources of dietary magnesium are nuts, seeds, and green, leafy vegetables; however, conventionally farmed produce is typically grown in soil that is lacking in magnesium. Organic produce may contain more magnesium if the farmers use magnesium-rich fertilizer. Food grown in naturally composted soil is preferable. Avoid processed and refined foods such as white bread and sugar, which have had the magnesium removed from them.
Magnesium supplements may be useful in increasing magnesium levels, but can cause diarrhea, which interferes with the absorption of the magnesium. To be properly absorbed, magnesium must remain in the intestines for 12 hours. An individual’s medications and the health status of the digestive system can also negatively affect magnesium absorption. In individuals who are severely deficient in magnesium, very large quantities of supplements may be required to reach necessary levels. However, taking higher levels of magnesium supplements can increase the side effects of diarrhea, resulting in even less absorption.
For maximum absorption, Dr. Sircus recommends applying magnesium products directly to the skin. In his book, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, Dr. Sircus explains that applying magnesium directly to the skin allows it to bypass the digestive system and avoid the potential side effects of supplements.
“The therapeutic value of magnesium as a transdermal application reaches well beyond the potential of dietary magnesium,” says Dr. Sircus. “Transdermal therapy effectively saturates the tissues, delivering high amounts of magnesium to where we need it most – directly into circulation.”
Use of products such as a magnesium oil spray, magnesium gel, or magnesium chloride flakes can result in more rapid absorption of the mineral. In a study of 16 individuals with low cellular magnesium levels, participants were asked to use a magnesium body spray in conjunction with a daily 20-minute magnesium foot soak. Seventy-five percent of the participants showed a significant improvement in their intracellular magnesium levels after one month of regular magnesium application.
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