Magnesium deficiency is known to be extremely hard to diagnose, but it affects so many people who aren’t even aware of it.
“Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. It affects everything from your heartbeat to your muscles to your hormones,” Dr. Danine Fruge, Associate Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida told CNN.
“Studies have shown that only about 25% of U.S. adults are at or above the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams for women and 400 to 420 for men,” says Fruge. The 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also showed that at least half of the U.S. population had inadequate intakes of magnesium.
The main symptoms involved with the deficiency are loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, tingling, cramping, numbness and contractions, which could resemble many other health conditions – being the reason it’s hard to diagnose. But getting magnesium in your system really isn’t that difficult.
“It’s very easy to get enough magnesium. I think the reason so many people are deficient is because a lot of food and drink can make magnesium unavailable to their bodies,” says Fruge.
The main culprits: soda, caffeinated beverages and alcohol, according to Fruge. If you love sipping on soft drinks, you’ll be less likely to have adequate amounts of nutrients including magnesium in your diet, according to several studies. And drinking alcohol doesn’t help, either. Consuming too much alcohol can interfere with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which aids magnesium absorption. As for food, refined sugar causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys, resulting in a net loss, according to Fruge.
As far as getting your magnesium intake back in check, you should check with your doctor before taking supplements, Fruge says. Sticking to eating foods rich in magnesium is a better bet.
“Your body has built-in mechanisms that don’t allow it to overdose from food, but that doesn’t exist for supplements. Too much magnesium via supplement can put your heart into an arrhythmia and that can even be fatal, particularly for people with issues like diabetes,” said Fruge.
[Photo from flickr user whologwhy]