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How a Magnesium Deficiency Harms You

How a Magnesium Deficiency Harms You

Did you know that you need up to 400 grams of magnesium a day if you are a man and around 300 if you are a woman? The problem is that only 5% to 25% of Americans are actually getting that amount through their diet or use of supplements. Why is this alarming?

First, because every organ and cell in our bodies needs this vital mineral. The heart, kidneys and muscles all need magnesium to function properly. It helps create energy, activates over 300 enzyme reactions and also helps us to absorb and utilize other essential minerals and nutrients.

Second, because a lack of magnesium can lead to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), depression, headaches, insomnia, moodiness, fatigue, seizures, behavioral disturbances and irritability.

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As regards depression, there is a fascinating account here where magnesium treatment was instrumental in patients recovering from depression. The authors of this paper made a plea that magnesium should be used in more clinical trials for treating this major illness and they also affirm that this magnesium deficiency may actually be causing the increase in depression.

How can you tell if you are not getting enough?

You can always have a blood test. The only problem here is that only about 1% of magnesium actually remains in the blood so these tests are not wholly reliable. But there are some telltale signs that this magnesium deficiency may be troubling you.

I used to get excruciating leg cramps at dawn and my doctor put me on a magnesium supplement. That problem soon disappeared. You may also suffer from a lack of sleep, facial tics and suffer from chronic pain.

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Lifestyle habits may be depleting your magnesium levels

Another fact that is often overlooked is that certain habits can actually lessen the amount you have. For example, eating loads of sugary snacks, drinking lots of coffee and soda and simply getting older, are all activities that can reduce your magnesium levels. Certain medications such as diuretics, antacids, antibiotics and a faulty digestion system can also play a negative role.

A stressful lifestyle may deplete magnesium levels even further. A lack of magnesium may lead to stress hormones such as catecholamines and corticosteroids getting out of control and increased stress related illnesses such as heart failure and high blood pressure.

Modern agriculture has reduced the magnesium content in food

Pesticides and all the other trappings of modern food production have depleted our natural supply of magnesium via the food chain. Our ancestors had no problem because their meat, water and seafood had plenty of magnesium.

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Nowadays, purification treatment removes it from our drinking water. Herbicides do not help either. It is alarming to read that the amount of magnesium in whole wheat flour is reduced to about 16% of its normal content through modern refining methods.

“Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams.” – Dr. Carolyn Dean, naturopathic doctor

Natural sources of magnesium

What should you eat and drink to keep to make sure that you are not deficient in magnesium?

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When you go shopping, stock up on bananas, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens such as spinach. These greens have lots of calcium, help relieve joint pain and can aid your digestion too.

Go for fish, soybeans and avocado when you can find them. Look at this site where you can get a better idea of the actual quantities and magnesium content of these great foods. You can also indulge in dark chocolate (lots of Vitamin B and iron) and a limited intake of coffee.

If you are stuck for recipe ideas, you can get some great ones here.

Finally, did you know that you can absorb some vital magnesium by swimming in the ocean? If you live near a beach and the weather is great, you know what you have do, don’t you?

Featured photo credit: Seattle Farmers Market/Rob Bertholf via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

Sleeping next to your partner can be a satisfying experience and is typically seen as the mark of a stable, healthy home life. However, many more people struggle to share a bed with their partner than typically let on. Sleeping beside someone can decrease your sleep quality which negatively affects your life. Maybe you are light sleepers and you wake each other up throughout the night. Maybe one has a loud snoring habit that’s keeping the other awake. Maybe one is always crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning while the other likes to go to bed at 10 p.m.

You don’t have to feel ashamed of finding it difficult to sleep with your partner and you also don’t have to give up entirely on it. Common problems can be addressed with simple solutions such as an additional pillow. Here are five fixes for common sleep issues that couples deal with.

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1. Use a bigger mattress to sleep through movement

It can be difficult to sleep through your partner’s tossing and turning all night, particularly if they have to get in and out of bed. Waking up multiple times in one night can leave you frustrated and exhausted. The solution may be a switch to a bigger mattress or a mattress that minimizes movement.

Look for a mattress that allows enough space so that your partner can move around without impacting you or consider a mattress made for two sleepers like the Sleep Number bed.[1] This bed allows each person to choose their own firmness level. It also minimizes any disturbances their partner might feel. A foam mattress like the kind featured in advertisements where someone jumps on a bed with an unspilled glass of wine will help minimize the impact of your partner’s movements.[2]

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2. Communicate about scheduling conflicts

If one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser, bedtime can become a source of conflict. It’s hard for a light sleeper to be jostled by their partner coming to bed four hours after them. Talk to your partner about negotiating some compromises. If you’re finding it difficult to agree on a bedtime, negotiate with your partner. Don’t come to bed before or after a certain time, giving the early bird a chance to fully fall asleep before the other comes in. Consider giving the night owl an eye mask to allow them to stay in bed while their partner gets up to start the day.

3. Don’t bring your technology to bed

If one partner likes bringing devices to bed and the other partner doesn’t, there’s very little compromise to be found. Science is pretty unanimous on the fact that screens can cause harm to a healthy sleeper. Both partners should agree on a time to keep technology out of the bedroom or turn screens off. This will prevent both partners from having their sleep interrupted and can help you power down after a long day.

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4. White noise and changing positions can silence snoring

A snoring partner can be one of the most difficult things to sleep through. Snoring tends to be position-specific so many doctors recommend switching positions to stop the snoring. Rather than sleeping on your back doctors recommend turning onto your side. Changing positions can cut down on noise and breathing difficulties for any snorer. Using a white noise fan, or sound machine can also help soften the impact of loud snoring and keep both partners undisturbed.

5. Use two blankets if one’s a blanket hog

If you’ve got a blanket hog in your bed don’t fight it, get another blanket. This solution fixes any issues between two partners and their comforter. There’s no rule that you have to sleep under the same blanket. Separate covers can also cut down on tossing and turning making it a multi-useful adaptation.

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Rather than giving up entirely on sharing a bed with your partner, try one of these techniques to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping in separate beds can be a normal part of a healthy home life, but compromise can go a long way toward creating harmony in a shared bed.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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