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5 Reasons You Need More Magnesium
By Jennifer Palmer, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

Are you deficient in magnesium? About 60 percent of Americans are! There are a variety of symptoms that can signify a magnesium deficiency. Do you have muscle twitching, muscle aches and pains, headaches, anxiety, nervousness, or insomnia? These can all be signs that you need more magnesium. There are also more serious conditions that may indicate a magnesium deficiency.

One is insulin resistance, a condition when cells don't respond adequately to insulin's attempt to shuttle glucose into cells after eating—resulting in elevated blood sugar and increased fat storage. It's a precursor to diabetes and research shows that people with low levels of magnesium have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Animal studies have shown that when fed a low magnesium diet, the animals display signs of stress, depression, and anxiety. When the magnesium is brought back into their diet, those symptoms disappear. Human studies have also shown that magnesium can relieve anxiety and depression alone or in combination with other herbal formulas.

Magnesium also has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory. Several studies have shown that lower magnesium levels are linked to high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a blood test that indicates inflammation. Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.

In addition, hypertension is linked to low magnesium levels. Magnesium acts as a vasodilator by opening the circumference of the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. Some studies have shown that eating a magnesium-rich diet lowers a person's risk of high blood pressure. Magnesium also has a dilating effect on respiratory passageways, which benefits people with asthma for the same reasons as hypertension—it relaxes the airways so more oxygen can flow through.

Insomnia can result from many factors, with magnesium deficiency being at the top. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles, and counters stress. Replenishing magnesium can lead to a longer, uninterrupted sleep pattern.

Unfortunately, it's hard to confirm deficiency; standard blood tests only show magnesium levels in the blood, but what's more important is the magnesium contained in your cells. An easier way to determine if you are deficient in magnesium is to do a trial course of highly-absorbable magnesium to see if your symptoms resolve.

Magnesium comes in many forms, but be sure to avoid the oxide form if you want to maximize absorption. To determine the appropriate dosage, start with one or two pills and increase the dosage over the course of a few days until it has a laxative effect, then decrease the dosage slightly. This method determines the appropriate dosage for your individual body type based on your level of deficiency. If you need the laxative effect, then magnesium oxide or hydroxide would be a good choice. If you have a sensitive digestive tract and aren't able to tolerate the levels of magnesium that you feel you need, add topical sources, such as magnesium oil, which can be sprayed on the skin or take magnesium salt baths.

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