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Quite often I am asked about particular nutrients. Lately, I have had many people inquire about magnesium or the symptoms the body uses to indicate we are low in magnesium. It is estimated that over 80% of the population is deficient.

Eight chemical elements in various combinations constitute by far the greatest part of the minerals in our bodies: calcium, sodium, potash, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, sulfur, and chlorine.

Magnesium plays a vital role in the body. It acts as a catalyst for some of the body’s chemical reactions. It assists in energy production and proper nerve function. It also promotes muscle relaxation and helps the body produce and use insulin. Like calcium, magnesium is also involved in the formation of bones and teeth, the clotting of blood, and the regulation of heart rhythm.

Magnesium helps prevent and alleviate heart disease. It helps coordinate the activity of the muscles as well as the function of the nerves that initiate the heartbeat. Magnesium plays an important part in regulating blood pressure by relaxing the muscles that control blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely. Its beneficial effect on blood pressure is further increased because of its ability to help equalize the levels of potassium and sodium in the blood. Magnesium’s role in muscle contraction and relaxation means that sufficient magnesium may reduce the severity of muscle cramps, aches and pains. Magnesium helps in relieving migraines by maintaining healthy blood flow to brain vessels. By helping the bronchial muscles to relax and the lung’s airway to expand, magnesium may ease an asthmatic’s breathing problems. Magnesium also helps the body convert Vitamin D into a form that the body can use efficiently. And it is needed to convert omega 3 essential fatty acids from flax oil to EPA/DHA.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include all body systems. Low levels of magnesium makes nearly every disease worse. With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience twitches (eye twitches in particular), cramps, muscle tension, muscle soreness, including back-aches, neck pain, tension headaches and jaw joint (or TMJ) dysfunction. Also, one may experience chest tightness or a peculiar sensation that he can't take a deep breath.

With regard to functioning of the smooth muscles, symptoms include constipation; urinary spasms; menstrual cramps; difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat-especially provoked by eating sugar; difficulty adjusting to oncoming bright headlights; and loud noise sensitivity. Magnesium is necessary to prevent the calcification of soft tissue. With vitamin B6, magnesium helps reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones and may prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones.

The central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability. It is effective in preventing premature labor and convulsions in pregnant women. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations, such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.

Symptoms or signs of the cardiovascular system include palpitations, heart arrhythmias, angina due to spasms of the coronary arteries, high blood pressure and mitral valve prolapse. Be aware that not all of the symptoms need to be present to presume magnesium deficiency; but, many of them often occur together. For example, people with mitral valve prolapse frequently have palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks and premenstrual symptoms. People with magnesium deficiency often seem to be "uptight." Other general symptoms include a salt craving, both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance, especially of chocolate, and breast tenderness.

Often a deficiency in magnesium can cause calcium deposits as there is not enough magnesium to properly metabolize the calcium. These deposits can be on the joints or as stones in the kidney urinary bladder or gallbladder.

Low and high protein intake can inhibit magnesium absorption as well as excessive regular alcohol intake.

You can receive a good amount of magnesium from the foods you eat. Foods that are rich in magnesium are fresh green vegetables, nuts, tofu, blackstrap molasses, bananas, figs, kelp, soybeans, seeds, oatmeal, apples, avocadoes, brown rice, dulse, salmon and apricots. It is difficult to overdose on dietary sourced magnesium. Topical Magnesium is the best form of delivery into the body. It is impossible to overdose and the body will absorb at a rate optimal to your health.

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