Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, following calcium, potassium, and sodium. The human body contains approximately 25 grams, with around 50-60% contained in bones and the rest in soft tissue.
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral for the human body. In fact, magnesium plays a role in over 300 functions in our body. Recent research has focused on the important interaction between magnesium and Vitamin D in promoting health.
It is recommended that adult males consume 400-420 milligrams per day, and 310- 320 milligrams per day for women. Studies have found that most Americans do not get sufficient magnesium through their diet. This is the possible result of many factors, including diet, alcohol abuse, chronic stress, diabetes, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This article will outline potential problems in consuming inadequate amounts of magnesium, groups at risk of magnesium deficiency, and the interplay between Vitamin D and magnesium.
Groups at Risk of Magnesium Deficiency
The kidneys play a role in accommodating insufficient magnesium intake for individuals in the short term by regulating magnesium expelled through urination. Specifically, the kidneys limit the loss of magnesium through urination, which is the greatest loss of magnesium in the body. However, in spite of this positive function of the kidneys, particular groups of society are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency. This includes people with gastrointestinal diseases, people with type 2 diabetes, older adults, and people with alcohol dependence.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Sustained low intake of magnesium changes biochemical pathways that can enhance the risk of illnesses. These long-term effects alter the normal functioning of the immune system and can increase risk of developing various health conditions. This section focuses on symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
- Muscle Cramps and Twitches
One telling symptom of magnesium deficiency is experiencing muscle cramps, tremors, and twitches. Experts believe the reason for a person experiencing these symptoms is that a greater amount of calcium enters nerves cells, which overexcites the muscle nerves (though in some cases, these effects may be caused by other factors including excessive caffeine, stress, or neurological diseases). Magnesium acts to regulate calcium levels, and a lack of magnesium is the cause of calcium levels in nerve cells skyrocketing, which results in a person experiencing muscle cramps and twitches.
- Muscle Weakness and Fatigue
Fatigue may be caused by a number of factors, including physical or mental exhaustion, and is a natural state for most people at varying times throughout their lives. However, persistent fatigue may also be a symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Myasthenia, which is muscle weakness, may be another specific sign of magnesium deficiency. Scientists believe that myasthenia results from a lack of potassium in muscle cells, which is a condition associated with insufficient magnesium in the body.
- Mental Disorders
Magnesium deficiency can also lead to mental disorders. Mild magnesium deficiency can lead to apathy, which is a state of mental numbness or lack of emotional response. More serious cases of magnesium deficiency can lead to coma or delirium. In addition, magnesium deficiency has been linked to increased risk of depression. Research continues to add to the growing body of evidence linking mental disorders with levels of magnesium in the body.
- Irregular Heartbeat
One of the most serious symptoms of magnesium deficiency is irregular heartbeat, known as arrhythmia. Most of the time, symptoms of arrhythmia are mild. However, it can also lead to heart palpitations, which are pauses between heartbeats. But arrhythmia can also include symptoms of shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fainting or chest pain. Severe cases of arrhythmia can increase the risk of heart failure or stroke. Magnesium regulates potassium in the body, and an imbalance of potassium inside and outside the heart muscle cells is what is believed to cause arrhythmia. Magnesium is also used in injections of patients with arrhythmia and other heart conditions, which has been shown to significantly improve their conditions.
Experts believe that the lack of magnesium in the body causes calcium deposits to buildup in the lining of airways of the lungs. This effectively restricts airways, which makes breathing difficult. Patients with severe asthma tend to exhibit low levels of magnesium, and magnesium levels in general are lower in individuals with asthma when compared to normal individuals. Also, magnesium is often administered to patients with asthma in order to reduce symptoms.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is the result of the body losing too much bone, making too little bone, or both of these two factors. Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone” and is a serious threat for many people globally, particularly for the elderly. Bones become weak and can break from a fall, or in serious cases of osteoporosis, sneezing or minor bumps can cause bones to break.
Magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. While magnesium deficiency may weaken bones directly, it also lowers the level of calcium contained in the blood. Calcium is the main building block of bones, and the effect of lower calcium in the blood results in weakened bones.
- High Blood Pressure
Evidence is mounting that magnesium deficiency may raise blood pressure, and heighten the risk of high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Additional study is needed to confirm results, but a growing body of evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Vitamin D- Magnesium Interdependence
Vitamin D is known to provide many incredible health benefits. It regulates hundreds of human genes, including genes linked to cancer and diabetes. Vitamin D helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Vitamin D, along with magnesium, affects numerous functions of the immune system.
However, all these amazing benefits of Vitamin D depend on magnesium in the body. This is due to the fact that magnesium is used in support of Vitamin D in two key ways. First, increased Vitamin D builds bones, which consumes magnesium. Second, magnesium is needed to metabolize Vitamin D. Without magnesium, the benefits of Vitamin D cannot be realized, as it remains in a form that cannot be used by various functions of the human body. Therefore, magnesium is not only needed by the body for important bodily functions, but also ti transform Vitamin D into a usable form by the body.
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