Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?


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If you are concerned about your bone and brain health, you should be taking magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important supplements for men. It is estimated that 80% of people living in the US are deficient in magnesium, and yet this mineral is one of the most overlooked minerals, with dramatic health consequences of magnesium deficiency. 

One of the reasons why people are deficient in magnesium is that we do not get enough from our diet. Magnesium is farmed out of the soil—even more so than calcium—so our food today has less magnesium than it used to.

Magnesium, when balanced with vitamins and other minerals, is important for optimal health in several ways. It helps in activating muscles and nerves. It helps you digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creating energy in your body. Magnesium also serves as a precursor for serotonin and other neurotransmitters, plus it serves as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis. It also plays a role in helping to free bound testosterone and is essential for maintaining bone and brain health as well.

Helps Build Bones 

Magnesium is essential for bone health, and yet many men overutilize calcium when they should be looking into magnesium, specifically getting the right balance of calcium and magnesium. It is better to get your calcium from nondairy food sources than from supplements or dairy foods. Researchers in one study found that men who averaged over 600 mg calcium daily had a 32% higher risk of prostate cancer than those who regularly consumed 150 mg or less.

There are several reasons to avoid taking calcium supplements such as an increased risk for prostate cancer, heart attacks, and other problems. But really it comes down to making sure your calcium is balanced with your magnesium intake to prevent these risks.

May Prevent Dementia

There is a lot of good data and recent studies on magnesium for reversing dementia and other cognitive decline, both in men and women. Doctors are calling Alzheimer’s disease the next health epidemic due to this disease’s shocking increase in the US aging population. You can read some of the studies here and here.

Increases Your Testosterone

Magnesium can help men with their hormones, especially as they age. There is some good research around magnesium freeing men’s bound testosterone (T) and total T in men.

Free testosterone is the “active” T that is available for the cellular functions that we associate with T such as muscle growth and repair, libido, bone growth, and others. Only 2 to 3% of total serum testosterone is normally active. As you age, SHBG and another protein, albumin, bind testosterone keeping it from doing the things you need it to do. You want to free your bound T. If you are struggling with your T levels, you should think about adding magnesium to your supplements as well as a general energy and testosterone health supplement.

What Are The Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

There is no lab work your doctor can order to check your magnesium levels. That means you have to rely on symptoms. The early signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

An ongoing deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms like the following:

  • Seizure
  • Muscle contraction
  • Cramps
  • Coronary spasms
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Personality changes

Be aware that certain lifestyle factors also deplete magnesium. Stress and certain prescription drugs like diuretics and diabetes drugs, can decrease your magnesium and in some cases also increase your dependency on these and other drugs.

Fluoride is another mineral that can drain you body of magnesium because magnesium binds to the fluoride. You may know of fluoridated water, but fluoride is commonly found in medications. Antibiotics (fluoroquinolones like Cipro), cholesterol, painkillers, and anti-anxiety drugs can all deplete your magnesium.

How to Take Magnesium

What kind of magnesium should you take? There are actually a variety of magnesium supplements and ways to get this mineral, which must be bound to other substances. That is why you won’t find a 100% magnesium product.

Avoid inexpensive and low-quality products like magnesium oxide, which your body can’t absorb and can cause a laxative effect. Magnesium glycinate tends to provide a high level of absorption. Magnesium chloride and magnesium lactate may only contain 12% magnesium, but they have better absorption than some of the others. Magnesium-L-threonate is a newer type of magnesium supplement that is showing promise. It has the ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane.

Magnesium intake should be balanced with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. For example, magnesium and calcium should be taken on a 1:1 ratio. These four nutrients work together and support one another. When they are not in balance, there is the potential for health risks. That is why you see an increase in heart attacks and stroke with calcium intake when a person is deficient in magnesium. If you take too much vitamin D without sufficient magnesium or vitamin K, it can lead to vitamin D toxicity. That is why all four are important.

If you are looking for magnesium-rich foods consider dark, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado, banana, and even dark chocolate. You can also get magnesium (along with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D) from fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut and tuna.

Talk to your doctor about the right amount of magnesium for your health. The amount of magnesium you take may depend on your symptoms how much calcium you are getting in your diet.