Magnesium, who knew??

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Isn’t it crazy that we all run to the doctor for a “quick fix” pill for our aches and pains, when in reality, our problems just might boil down to the foods we consume, or don’t consume?  Eating healthy isn’t just a gimmick.  Eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins and minerals can keep our bodies fueled for a long and healthy life.

Today, I’m going to talk about the mineral, magnesium.  I’m sure some of you have heard about this.  Magnesium helps with just about every body function from breaking down proteins we eat to helping with depression!  Magnesium plays an important role in your body’s ability to keep your heart, kidneys and muscles healthy, also, keeps your bones strong.

Symptoms of low magnesium can be hard to recognize.  If you find yourself being tired all the time, that can be a symptom.  Sure everyone feels TIRED at some point in their lives with work and kids, but  an insufficient amount of magnesium can make you feel tired and weak.  Often drs. don’t check for magnesium levels at this point.  Unfortunately, this feeling of fatigue won’t go away until the magnesium levels are back to normal.

Muscle spasms and cramps are another sign of a low magnesium level.  If you are suffering from uncontrollable and unpredictable spasms and cramps and its not due to inadequate stretching, dehydration or over-exertion, have your magnesium level checked.

Magnesium is vital for proper muscle contraction and can affect your most important muscle….the heart.  If you are suffering from arrhythmia, magnesium can help you maintain a normal heart rhythm.  There have been studies on how magnesium affects your heart and if it can prevent heart disease or lower the risk of heart attacks.  While there is no guarantee, the studies have shown a positive effect on heart health.

Do you suffer from dizziness?  Not the type that happens when you stand up fast, but, from dizziness that seems to last all day.  Low magnesium levels can give you feelings of vertigo which can totally ruin your life.  If you are suffering from dizziness that just seems to be getting worse, check your magnesium level.

If you seem to have never ending nausea and vomiting, yep, once again it can be due to low magnesium.  Although, you can suffer the same if your magnesium levels are high.  If you are taking a supplement, it’s important to have your levels checked.

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Magnesium also impacts your nervous system.  Tingling and numbness can be a warning sign of a deficiency, especially if it keeps getting worse.  It’s common to feel these symptoms in your face, feet and hands.  I just want to add, numbness is not to be something to brush off.  There could be a real serious problem so make sure you get medical help.

Another interesting fact is, having a low magnesium level can affect your personality!   Do you or someone you know seem to be having abnormal amounts of confusion and irritability?  Or do simple things seem overwhelming?  Is there mood swings?  Are you having trouble sleeping?  Do you suffer from restless leg syndrome? You might want to have your magnesium level checked, before you are prescribed mind bending medications.  Drs. don’t often check magnesium levels for symptoms like these.

Along with the personality changes, low magnesium levels can cause panic attacks and/or anxiety.  If you are suffering from these regularly it could be due to magnesium deficiency.  This can lead to a vicious circle because the stress from anxiety can lower your level of magnesium even more.

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If you are suffering from high blood pressure, try taking in more magnesium.  A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension did a study and the results were that the people with the healthiest blood pressure, had the highest levels of magnesium.  Those with low levels of magnesium had high blood pressure.  Another study revealed that eating magnesium rich foods approximately 100 mg a day, would decrease the risk of having a stroke by 8 percent.

It has also been found that a lack of magnesium could play a role in developing type II diabetes.  Low levels of magnesium are 10 times higher in people that are newly diagnosed with type II diabetes.

A deficiency in magnesium can also increase your risk of developing bone problems like osteoporosis.  Your bones store large amount of magnesium, so when levels of the mineral are low for a long time, it can lead to bone loss.

Another symptom of magnesium deficiency can be migraines.  Researches say that migraines can be caused due to the dilation of blood vessels and that nearly half of the people suffering from migraine headaches show to have a low amount of magnesium in their blood.

Now here is something we don’t like to talk about, but, if you are having trouble with bowel movements, part of the reason might be having a low magnesium level.  Magnesium has a relaxing effect on many parts of the body, including the digestive tract.  If these muscles contract more, it makes it more difficult for waste to move through yours system, resulting in constipation.

On the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, are you having trouble with acid reflux?  Just like I previously mentioned, magnesium plays a key role in muscle relaxation throughout the body.  This includes the valves at the top and bottom of the stomach, which allow food to move through the body as it should.  If the cause of your acid reflux is a magnesium deficiency, most over-the-counter medications can actually worsen the symptoms.  So be sure once again to talk to your dr. and get your magnesium level checked.

Now that you know some symptoms of magnesium deficiency, what can you do about it?  These are a few foods that are loaded with magnesium and I would recommend that you would try to incorporate them into your daily diet.

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First, Avocados.  They are loaded with magnesium.  So go ahead and add an avocado to a salad or sandwich.  Avocados are also a great source of potassium and protein, which helps keep you feeling full and helps in the muscle building process.  Avacodos are high in the “good” fat, but still, unsaturated fat, so consume in moderation.

Then there are the DARK leafy greens.  Swiss chard, kale, and spinach are packed with magnesium.  These greens have virtually no calories or fat so enjoy.  Just remember to be careful with what you “dress” them with if you are watching your calories.

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Now there are my favorites!  Cashews and dark chocolate.  Both can help with regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.  They also help with high cholesterol, hypertension and other heart health issues.  Just remember dark chocolate means having a higher cocoa percentage.  Anything with  60% would be ideal.  No milk chocolate!!  One word of caution, the nuts and chocolate are high in fat, so, take in moderation.

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Pumpkin seeds aren’t just for Halloween anymore!  They are very high in magnesium.  Make sure to leave the shells which contain the most helpful nutrients.  Also another important seed are flax seeds, they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and magnesium.  All are very good for body health.  Add the seeds to salads, sauces, and cereals or buy whole grain breads with flax seed.

The last food I’m going to include is tuna.  Tuna is loaded with magnesium and low in calories and fat.  Tuna can contain mercury, which is unhealthy if consumed in high quantities.  Also canned tuna contains lots of added salt, so, try to limit your consumption of canned tuna and go for the fresh.

Once again, I want to encourage you to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

If you find yourself with any of the above symptoms and the drs. can’t figure out a cause, ask for a magnesium test.  After all, eating healthy is a whole lot better than taking meds you don’t need.

Happy eating!!