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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

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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 August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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