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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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