Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

By Susan Rand

It has been estimated that 80-90% of Americans are deficient in magnesium (Mg). I’d heard about magnesium all my adult life, but never bothered to learn any more about it. It was a mineral used in the body, that’s all I knew.


In recent years, I’ve been experiencing various health problems. The most bothersome symptom was an extreme fatigue. I had no energy. All I wanted to do was sit or lie down; I could barely summon enough strength to drag myself to the mailbox. My family became impatient with me; I was so irritable no one could get along with me. My head ached and my joints, and I had regularity problems. These finally drove me to my doctor.


He listened to my recital, then told me to start taking magnesium. I bought some supplements. Within two days after taking it, I felt entirely different – wonderful! I had energy! I felt like moving around! This was so unlike me I could hardly believe I was myself, and in truth, I wasn’t. Before, I was a person without Mg, now I had plenty, and what a difference it makes!


So what is magnesium?


Magnesium is a trace mineral necessary for nearly every body function.  After oxygen, food and water, Mg is the most critical element in our bodies. About 350 enzyme functions depend on it, including the one that creates energy for every cell. Mg is absolutely critical for proper body functioning, yet it is hardly known.


What are the symptoms?


The symptoms of Mg deficit closely resemble the symptoms of many health problems and diseases such as migraine headaches, ADHD, asthma, allergies, psychiatric disorders, fibromyalgia, insomnia, PMS, hypertension, backaches, constipation, kidney stones, irregular heartbeat, and muscle cramps; therefore no diagnosis or misdiagnosis is common. If a person has symptoms of several diseases or disorders, a Mg deficit should be suspected.


How much magnesium does a person need?


Here is the RDA:


For men aged:               19-30                400 mg day

                                    31-50                420 mg day

                                    51-70                420 mg day


For women aged:           19-30                400 mg day

                                    31-50                320 mg day

                                    51-70                310 mg day


How does magnesium promote health?

Calcium: The body cannot process calcium without magnesium. Too much unabsorbed calcium in the body means gallstones, kidney stones, and arthritis. An Mg deficit can also cause muscle cramps and jerks, PMS, hiccups, and muscle tics. Magnesium and calcium act together in controlling muscle functioning. Calcium causes tension in the muscles; magnesium relaxes them. Low magnesium levels and high calcium levels cause muscle cramps. Too much calcium depletes magnesium, as do mental stress, chronic pain, coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol, cola, tobacco, low thyroid, diabetes, and high perspiration.

Allergies:  Studies on lab rats have shown that when they are deprived of Mg they develop symptoms of allergies. They develop skin disorders and their ears turn red, they have increased histamine levels and high white blood cell counts. Mg deficits have also been shown to cause allergy-like symptoms in people, too.

Chemicals Sensitivity:  People who are sensitive to chemicals often have other problems linked to Mg deficits such as mitral valve prolapse, anxiety disorders, and TMJ, linked to abnormal hyaluronic acid (associated with cushioning of joints), which cannot effectively be utilized by the body without Mg. Abnormal hyaluronic acid is also associated with joint instability, detached retinas, osteoarthritis, muscle contractions, scoliosis, bowed legs, glaucoma and premature aging syndromes.

Psychiatric Disorders:  A Bulgarian study found Mg deficits in patients with depression and schizophrenia. The authors of the study thought the psychiatric disorders caused an Mg deficit instead of the other way around. Other studies, however, suggested that the Mg abnormalities caused the mental illness. Another study in England showed a strong connection between an Mg deficit and high levels of excitement and agitation in patients.

Asthma:  Magnesium sulfate is now being explored for the treatment of asthma. A study done at Brown University showed significant improvement in children with asthma when treated with intravenous magnesium.

AADD:  I was diagnosed years ago with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. One of the more debilitating symptoms for me was an inability to concentrate. Almost anything – a leaf falling past the window, distant voices, music turned low, etc. – would distract me, and break my concentration. I seemed to have no ability to ignore distractions. But even in the few days I have been taking magnesium, I have noticed that I am increasingly able to blank out the radio and TV if turned low.

In a study reported by the National Institutes of Health, magnesium pemoline was given in high doses to 35 adults. The authors of the study set a 30% reduction in symptoms as a measure of improvement. In the end, 50% of the participants achieved this level.

Another study reported by the NIH applied a new treatment to patients :

“Eighty patients with soft tissue calcification were treated: 24 suffered from myositis ossificans traumatica, 23 from calcific bursitis (Duplay's disease), six from osteoarthropathy of elbow joint after severe craniocerebral trauma, nine from calcification around the elbow joint after local trauma, 13 from calcification around the hip joint, and five from calcification in ligaments and tendons. Using a new method of treatment about 75% of patients were cured.”

Heart Attacks and Strokes

Dr. Mildred Selig of Decatur, GA, suspects that Mg deficits may be implicated in the number of heart attacks and strokes reported in menopausal women in Women’s Health Initiative’s studies. According to Dr. Selig, the women in the study were taking estrogen. Magnesium guards against blood clots caused by hormone replacement therapy.

Dr. Seelig has said that she believes magnesium is largely ignored because it is “cheap as dirt, not well taught in medical schools, and few companies can make enough money on it to prompt them to fund research.”

A magnesium deficit if severe can even kill you. The heart may cramp and/or fall into an irregular rhythm, resulting in heart stoppage.

Magnesium and the Diet

Magnesium is found in some of the foods we eat: fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. But most Americans eat primarily highly processed foods that have little or no magnesium. Factors associated with depletion of Mg are: dieting, prolonged exercise, “soft” water which contains few minerals, heavy sweating, nursing, alcoholism, intestinal diseases, and stomach bypass surgery, also some drugs: diuretics, digitalis, and cisplatin and cyclosporine, used in cancer treatment.

Some foods rich in magnesium are bread, bran, oats, Cheerios and Wheaties, legumes, soybeans and lima beans, spinach, corn and broccoli, dates, raisins and bananas, cashews, peanuts, walnuts and pecans. If you drink bottled water, don’t buy distilled water.

Here are some numbers for common foods:

            Almonds, ½ cup                                    197 mg.

            Cashews, ½ cup                                    178

            Soybeans, 1 cup                                    148

            Bran cereal                                           129 mg.

            Brown rice, 1 cup                                   86

            Spinach, ½ cup                                      78

            Whole wheat bread, 1 slice                      48

            Banana                                                 34

            Dried apricot halves, ½ cup                    31

What can I expect to happen once my magnesium levels return to normal?

There are no guarantees but don’t be surprised if you start feeling remarkably well, with: more energy, less anxiety, lots more sleep, muscles that are relaxed instead of tight or twitching, relief from muscle spasms or twitching, improved bowel elimination, an improved outlook on life, increased alertness, a clear head, fewer or no headaches, less muscle and joint pain, and less irritability – the possible benefits are so many it’s not practical to list them here.

So if you haven’t been taking magnesium, talk to your doctor about starting. And good luck!

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Did you know:

Magnesium remains largely misunderstood, largely misused and largely undetected.

About the Author:
Susan Rand has been writing teaching writing editing and mentoring beginning writers for 30 years. She currently writes web content. At her website she offers books writing instruction MS doctor and revise/rewrite services.