Magnesium is Vital to Good Health

This article is written by our guest blogger Tina Fox.  Tina Fox, LMBT is a licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist and works as a neuromuscular therapist in Cary, NC

As an ex-elite athlete in my thirties, I found myself chronically tired and with the aches and pains of an 80 year old.  (I had felt this way since I was 16 years old.)  In addition, I was working in a high stress job.  I finally decided it was time for a change.   I changed my career to work in soft tissue therapy and understand why we have such an epidemic of chronic pain.

After doing some research, I discovered my grandfather’s way of doing things was right.  He grew all of his own vegetables in a huge garden in our back yard.  As kids, he had us go outside and pick our own raspberries for dessert.   He would then pour a little cream over them.  This was yummy.  He had us soak our aches and pains in epsom salt soaks and then had salve to rub on our cuts and bruises. We used to giggle at his old ways.  Maybe he knew a few things.  He was a potato farmer after all. He saved his bacon grease in a cup to cook his eggs.  He slowly ripened his garden tomatoes in the sun.  He was always eating fresh sliced tomatoes, cabbage with vinegar and, of course, potatoes.

So that brings us back to magnesium.  Remember the epsom salts our grandparents used? Magnesium chloride is a form of magnesium that is readily absorbed by our skin and utilized by our body. So why do we need it?

I love talking about magnesium and the good it does for our bodies. It’s hard to believe it doesn’t get the press that calcium does. But, then again, who really profits if you are magnesium deficient? Not the milk people…

Uses of magnesium by the body:

As a body worker I have learned that magnesium is the relaxation mineral. Calcium works with our muscle cells to cause a contraction and magnesium is the chemical that causes the muscles to relax. But there is more. Much more!  It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.  Magnesium is crucial to its proper functioning and is involved in more than 300 bodily processes including:

  • muscle and nerve function
  • heart rhythm
  • immune system function
  • blood sugar level regulation
  • blood pressure
  • energy metabolism
  • protein synthesis
  • bone health

Magnesium is also important for proper metabolism of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamin D.

Magnesium helps:

  • It boost energy and relieve pain and muscle aches
  • It helps with sleep disturbances-restless leg, headaches, anxiety, TMJ pain.
  • It helps prevent calcification of the tissues of the body as part of the aging process.
  • It relieves inflammation that can lead to chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, migraines, IBS, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Yet… Over 76% of all Americans are magnesium deficient.  Why are we deficient?

  •  Magnesium helps our body to process and release the energy from sugar molecules.  It takes 29 molecules of magnesium to digest 1 molecule of sugar. We eat too much sugar!
  • Magnesium aids in making stress hormones….we sure are stressed out!
  • Our food supply is low in magnesium. And we eat little of these foods.

Great sources of magnesium:

Nuts and seeds are a great source of magnesium.

Other good sources of magnesium, providing anywhere from 64-170 mg per serving, include:

  • Halibut
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Beans, especially pinto and black
  • Plantain, raw

Reference:  Magnesium rich foods––Foods that contain magnesium-(courtesy of the Vitamin D council)

And magnesium is readily absorbed transdermally via magnesium oil or through epsom salt bath (my personal favorite).

There are some studies using epsom salt baths with ADHD children and Autism to calm them and bring their bodies into balance.

Reference:  http://magnesiumforlife.com/medical-application/magnesium-and-autism/

Magnesium is also needed for our body to absorb Vitamin D.  There is a vital link between these two in our bodies that is now believed to play a large role in chronic pain syndromes that effect our muscles and nerves. There is a lot of great information on the website for http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/

Please contact a healthcare provider to monitor your supplementation of vitamin D and Magnesium.

I thank my Pop (grandfather) for all of the wonderful life lessons that will benefit me and my family!

Yours in good health.

Thank you, Tina!

Mood Disorders and the Food We Eat (part 2)

Are you stressed out?  If so, you are not alone.  A 2007, American Psychological Association study estimates that approximately 75% of Americans experience both physical and psychological symptoms of stress each month.

One reason for this stress epidemic is that our human adrenal system evolved based on the stressors of our ancestors such as hunting wild animals or protecting the tribe.  It is not adapted to deal effectively with the continuous, multiple stressors that we endure in modern life.  For example, modern stressors include frequent work pressures, traffic with commutes, and exposure to pollution. Upon the initial exposure to a stressor, our adrenal glands send out the hormone adrenaline.  The adrenaline surge alerts you to imminent danger and prepares you to fight or flee.  The release of cortisol follows and is longer acting.  It infuses you with strength, stamina and a sense of well-being.  However, chronic exposure to stressors wears out the adrenals and we loose our natural ability to deal with stress.

One of the biggest chronic stressors is the high sugar, low protein diet.  Within two days of changing my diet from the Standard American diet (SAD) to the primal diet, I felt more calm and a greater sense of well-being that I remembered feeling for a long time.  Now, when I feel stressed, I avoid high sugar, low protein foods (often referred to as comfort foods) and eat a steak with vegetables.  I notice that I recover from stress much more quickly.

Symptoms of adrenal overload include often feeling pressured, difficulty relaxing, getting upset easily, high sensitivity to noise or light, feeling weak at times, and a need for alcohol, food or drugs to relax. The Mood Cure by Julia Ross is an excellent book to learn more about recognizing and treating mood disorders with nutrition.  In addition to a high protein diet, she recommends GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) as a supplement for treating adrenal overload.  I’ve used this when going to the dentist (I’ve had several non-fun dental visits) and I notice that I do not clench my teeth during the visit nor do I have a sore jaw afterward.

Personally, I find that both the proper nutrition and mindfulness meditation to be great assets in coping with the stresses of modern life.  I’ll discuss my practice of meditation in future posts.

See also: Mood Disorders and The Food We Eat (part 1)

Mood Disorders and the Food We Eat (part 1)

It is estimated that 80% of the adults in the U.S. population suffer from a serotonin deficiency.[1] Serotonin deficiency symptoms can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, overeating, PMS, migraine, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), aggressive or violent tendencies, fibromyalgia, alcoholism, and bulimia. More subtle symptoms include frequent pessimistic thoughts, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feelings of worry and anxiousness, irritability, moodiness, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and difficulty getting to sleep.

Julia Ross, who has 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist, clinic director, and pioneer in the field of nutrition psychology, has witnessed firsthand the remarkable impact of nutrition (not drugs) for treating a number of mood disorders. In her book, The Mood Cure, she discusses how the key amino acid for producing serotonin, Tryptophan, is difficult to get in sufficient quantities from the foods we eat today. Specifically, feeding farm animals (chicken, cows, pigs and turkey) Tryptophan-low grains like corn instead of grass has led to these traditionally rich sources of Tryptophan to become deficient. A diet containing milk and cheese (locate at Real Milk), beef (from grass-fed cows), chicken, pork and eggs from pasture raised animals (locate at EatWild) is recommended to help reverse the serotonin deficiency. An amino acid supplement, such as HTP-5 or Tryptophan can also be used to help reverse the deficiency. (It is recommended to consult a nutritionist prior to using these supplements.)

In the course of writing this post, I tried using the USDA Nutrient Database to compare the amino acid content of grass-fed beef versus grain-fed beef. It is interesting to note that no nutritional information on amino acids was available. This is the same database that provided the amino acid content of mung beans and lettuce! This is a surprising omission for a food so important to health.

See also: Mood Disorders and The Food We Eat (part 2)

References:

[1] Kellerman, Gottfried, Ph.D., Prepublication research data on 2200 subjects and controls given urinary neurotransmitter level testing at Pharmasan Labs, Minneapolis, 1996-2002.