Magnesium deficiency and muscle cramps
Everyone knows that muscle cramps in athletes are mostly caused by a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is often not recognised as an important electrolyte that needs to be replaced if it is lost due to stress, sweat and poor nutrition. There are no suitable blood test methods to correctly measure magnesium.
Nevertheless, thousands of doctors and athletes are convinced that magnesium works. We conduct experiments on our own bodies every day and prove the effectiveness.
Additional activities and increased sweating use up more magnesium. Symptoms - caused by a magnesium deficiency - disappear within a few days when the magnesium intake is increased.
The treatment of cramps
If you have ever had cramps, you have probably been told that they will go away on their own. You may also have been advised to stop what you're doing and gently stretch or massage the affected muscle.
However, that is not enough if you are an athlete who falls during a competition because of a muscle spasm. Stretching and warm up exercises will not fill up your magnesium storage. Only magnesium can do that for you.
So the first thing athletes should think about in the morning and in the evening is to take magnesium. So you can be sure that you will not get muscle cramps before, during or after sports or during competitions. Muscle cramps are among the worst problems that an athlete can have when competing. This can go so far that muscle fibre tears occur and the athlete is absent for an entire season.
In extreme heat, it is particularly important to take magnesium to prevent muscle cramps. Trainers know what influence heat has on athletes. If you sweat, you lose magnesium, which is water-soluble. You also sweat out electrolytes and of course water.
These losses mean that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the body changes. The percentage of calcium will increase, and since calcium is a muscle contractor, the muscles contract. 'In reality, you could lose a small amount of calcium through sweat, but you sweat a lot more magnesium - and that is exactly the problem.
If you lose one or two liters of fluid per hour during intense training in the heat, you will lose enough sodium, potassium, and magnesium via your skin to allow your clothing to become encrusted with minerals. On military bases in the Middle East, soldiers often tell them that their T-shirts are as hard as boards after drying because they exude so many minerals.
However, hydration from sports drinks that are full of water, sodium, and sugar only focuses on making up for salt and fluid loss. These solutions do not address the need to replenish magnesium and potassium in the same way that sodium and water are replenished.
Most people think that they have a problem with the heat due to the high temperature and humidity. That's not true. Heat in the cells arises primarily from the lack of minerals and electrolytes, which have the task of transporting the heat out of the cells.
If there are enough of these elements and enough water, it does not matter how hot it is - the cells will never overheat and people will never suffer from sunstroke as the minerals conduct the heat out of the cells.
Magnesium deficiency and stress
At the moment, stress is one of the main reasons why people go to see their doctor. In the early 1980s, Time Magazine reported that stress was the '80s epidemic.'
Up until this day it has gotten worse. We balance more than one job, several electronic devices, broken families, a poor economy and a diet full of fast food - not to mention global dangers and environmental threats that are hammered into our brains via TV and the internet. How can our bodies adapt to such serious changes?
The American Institute of Stress (AIS), founded by the famous Canadian stress researcher Hans Selye, MD, estimates that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to general practitioners are due to stress related problems.
Possible reactions to stress, as described by the AIS:
- Heartbeat and blood pressure rises sharply, increasing blood flow to the brain to improve decision making.
- Blood sugar rises to provide more fuel for energy production, which is the result of the breakdown of glycogen, fat and protein storages due to the adrenaline surge.
- Blood is drawn from the intestine, where it is not immediately needed for digestion, and transported to the large muscles of the arms and legs to provide strength in battles and speed in fleeing from dangerous situations.
- Blood clotting occurs faster to prevent blood loss from cuts or internal bleeding.
- When blood pressure rises, the smooth muscles in the walls of our blood vessels can cramp if you have a magnesium deficiency. This can lead to chronic high blood pressure.
- When blood sugar rises, magnesium is responsible for insulin opening the cell membranes to allow sugar to enter the cells. If you suffer from a magnesium deficiency, blood sugar continues to rise and the cells do not receive glucose.
- If the large muscles in the arms and legs suffer from a magnesium deficiency, the increased blood circulation can lead to muscle spasms, irritability and restless legs syndrome.
- Without enough magnesium, blood clotting can be increased, which leads to clots in the legs, lungs, and brain.
Magnesium deficiency and panic attacks
The side effect of panic attacks is that they open the door to polypragmasia (using several medications). Doctors do not really know what panic attacks are or what causes them, but they do know about anti-anxiety drugs.
Most people who experience a panic attack are immediately treated with anxiety medication. If these drugs do not work, more will be added. These drugs include other serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants and even antipsychotics.
A panic attack is not necessarily a disease, but rather a symptom. A magnesium deficiency can worsen the panic attack.
If our body lacks a natural nutrient that is absolutely necessary to function properly, does not it make sense to first provide this natural nutrient before we look for medication to suppress the symptoms?
Magnesium is crucial in the treatment of panic attacks because it soothes the body in many different ways. It promotes muscle relaxation, nervous system balance, proper adrenal function, and the production of normal amounts of serotonin.
If you have a magnesium deficiency, your muscles may be unusually tense. Magnesium ensures that muscles relax, calcium does the opposite.
If your body contains too much calcium and too little magnesium, your muscles will become stiff and hard. You can even develop calcium deposits, which occurs in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Tense jaw muscles can cause teeth grinding and headaches.
It is like walking around with your muscles completely tense and not even noticing it. Try this for a few minutes and you will notice how painful it is.
If you suffer from a magnesium deficiency, you walk around tensely and do not know why you suffer from anger, apathy, fear, confusion, eye twitching, exhaustion, insomnia, muscle weakness, nervousness, poor concentration, poor memory, rapid heartbeat, and tremors.
Panic attacks can also be triggered by a low blood sugar level
One of the main triggers of panic attacks is a low blood sugar level. You come to work late and therefore quickly grab a coffee and a bun. Your blood sugar level rises sharply and catapults you into your day. But your blood sugar level drops on the way to work.
Your adrenal glands produce adrenaline to break down the sugar stored in the liver. This ensures that your brain does not starve and prevents you from fainting. The adrenaline surge, however, causes palpitations and your palms sweat in response to a fight or flight.
Since you sit in your car, your thoughts start racing and turn into worry and panic. If you cross a bridge at the same time, you could even develop a phobia of bridges and height.
If you see a doctor, he or she will probably not ask you what you ate for breakfast, but diagnose a panic disorder and prescribe medication.
If your doctor asks if you have recently felt depressed, have trouble sleeping and feel too stressed out (which are symptoms of a magnesium deficiency), you may also be prescribed an antidepressant.
Unfortunately, these drugs are given out today like candy. But beware, these drugs are highly effective chemical compounds with a long list of alarming side effects. Recent studies show that people feel better in only 40 percent of the cases. This means that they work less often than placebos.
If you are a type A person who lives with adrenaline, time pressure and stress, you could be a walking magnesium desert. Most people know that Type A people are prone to heart diseases, muscle spasms, hypersensitivity, and irritability.
However, it is not your genes. You suffer from a magnesium deficiency caused by stress, which consumes all of this vital mineral and makes you susceptible to diseases related to stress.
Magnesium deficiency and headaches
Headaches are a sure sign of stress. Your shoulders are curved, your neck muscles are tense and the tension spreads to the many muscles of your skull.
Magnesium can reduce the tension in these muscles and help your muscles relax. Magnesium deficiency is not the only cause of tension headaches. Migraines, PMS headaches and post-traumatic headaches are also affected by this miracle mineral.
In order to give you an insight into the extent of magnesium's effects, here are the many ways magnesium can treat migraines:
Magnesium relaxes the blood vessels and allows them to dilate, reducing cramps, and constrictions which cause migraines.
Magnesium regulates the work of the brain's neurotransmitters and inflammatory substances, which can play a role in migraines when they are out of balance.
Magnesium inhibits platelets from sticking together excessively, preventing the formation of tiny clots that can block blood vessels and cause pain.
Magnesium relaxes the muscles and prevents the build-up of lactic acid, which, in addition to muscle tension, can worsen headaches.
Magnesium deficiency and PMS
Many women who have read about magnesium and take it regularly reported that their PMS symptoms were greatly reduced by taking magnesium.
PMS occurs two to 14 days before menstrual bleeding begins and no one really knows why. A bloated feeling, water retention, muscle tension, mood swings, and numerous other symptoms can come and go periodically.
When women consume more magnesium, they often report that their extreme PMS symptoms are alleviated. Magnesium is a light diuretic, relaxes the muscles and increases serotonin (the 'happiness' neurotransmitter).
Magnesium deficiency and pregnant women
Magnesium is important for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Taking enough magnesium during pregnancy can improve your baby's health from day one.
However, the need for this arises before birth. Many studies indicate that magnesium can prevent premature labor and eclampsia and greatly reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in the child and sudden death.
Magnesium in an effective dosage, like folic acid, could therefore be an important nutritional supplement for pregnant women.
Many symptoms during pregnancy, such as constipation, leg cramps, back pain, water retention, irritability and insomnia, are actually symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium can also help women with fertility problems get pregnant by reducing spasms of the fallopian tubes, which can prevent the egg from nesting.
Magnesium deficiency and children
Magnesium deficiency affects children as well as adults. However, many of the magnesium deficiency symptoms are attributed to other things.
It is amazing how the physical and behavioural changes of children suffering from ADHD and autism change after they have simply been bathed in a warm bath to which magnesium salts have been added by their parents.
Constipation disappears, the complexion improves, mood increases, irritability decreases significantly and social interaction improves. Of course, nutrition is also important.
In summary, the need for magnesium arises at conception and continues throughout our lives.
Magnesium deficiency and the heart
Magnesium deficiency is very common in people with heart disease. There are many patients who suffer from angina, palpitations, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, blood clots, and poor circulation.
In some hospitals, where doctors understand the importance of magnesium, it is administered immediately against acute heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmias.
Like any other muscle, the heart remains in a flexible, relaxed state if it has enough magnesium.
It seems logical that magnesium should be used for any type of heart symptom. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate in the medical community as to whether magnesium should be used to treat a heart disease.
Magnesium deficiency and high blood pressure
The most commonly used medications for hypertension (high blood pressure) are diuretics. The irony of taking diuretics is that they remove magnesium from the body.
Here is an example of a very common medical history:
Irene is 58 years old. She visited her doctor for her annual check-up and her blood pressure was a bit high. Her mother just died and Irene was under a lot of stress. But her doctor did not ask what is happening in her life and the appointment is just too short to be able to add something in.
As you already know, stress can reduce magnesium levels. But Irene's doctor - who believes that she simply developed hypertension in old age - immediately prescribed a diuretic medication for her, even though age is not a reason for high blood pressure.
When Irene visited the doctor a month later to check whether the medication is working, her blood pressure was even higher. Her doctor did not know the reason, but if you know anything about magnesium, you will realise that the diuretic has reduced Irene's magnesium level.
Nevertheless, her doctor believed to have discovered Irene's rising blood pressure early on and that a more aggressive therapy is necessary. He prescribed Irene a second anti-hypertensive medication.
A few weeks later, and apparently completely surprisingly, Irene's cholesterol levels rose sharply. Again, the reason is probably a low magnesium level. Instead of recommending a magnesium dietary supplement, the doctor prescribes a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.
Another month later, Irene's blood sugar level increased. Alarmed by the abnormal results, her doctor prescribed an anti-diabetic. One of the proven signs of diabetes is a low magnesium level. But her doctor did not even consider that.
Irene is now taking four different medications to treat symptoms that are mainly caused by a magnesium deficiency. All of these medications empty the magnesium storages. From a psychological point of view, Irene is now afraid that she will suffer from a severe heart disease because all of these medications are necessary.
During this 6-month scenario, Irene's magnesium levels were never tested. But even if a smart young medical assistant did a magnesium blood test, it will likely be wrong because only 1 percent of the body's magnesium is in the blood.
As mentioned before, magnesium in the blood is crucial, where the amount of effective feedback mechanisms are determined and usually appear normal - unless the values in the tissue are dangerously low.
Magnesium deficiency and cholesterol
Magnesium is required for the activity of an enzyme, the LDL, which lowers 'bad' cholesterol. This enzyme also reduces the triglycerides and increases the 'good' cholesterol HDL.
Another magnesium-dependent enzyme converts the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 into prostaglandins, which are necessary for heart and overall health.
Magnesium is the body's natural way to control cholesterol when it reaches a higher level, whereas statin medications have been developed to block the entire cholesterol metabolism.
If there is enough magnesium in the body, the cholesterol is reduced to its essential functions - hormone production and cell membrane maintenance - and is usually not produced in abundance.
The majority of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver and therefore does not come from our diet. Cholesterol production requires a specific enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase.
If there is enough cholesterol in the body, magnesium slows down this enzyme. If more cholesterol is needed to produce hormones or to coat every cell in our body with an oily layer, magnesium will accelerate it.
Studies show the effect of magnesium on the cholesterol level
In total, at least eighteen human studies have shown that magnesium supplements can have extremely beneficial effects on lipids.
- In these studies, the total cholesterol levels were reduced by 6 to 23 percent.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol was reduced by 10 to 18 percent, triglycerides decreased by 10 to 42 percent and HDL (good) cholesterol increased by 4 to 11 percent.
The studies also showed that low levels of magnesium are related to higher levels of 'bad' cholesterol and that high levels of magnesium result in an increase in 'good' cholesterol.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins developed by pharmaceutical companies were developed to completely inhibit HMG-CoA reductase. Of course, this can have strong side effects, since cholesterol is actually vital for many body functions.
Magnesium deficiency and blood sugar
Magnesium deficiency is a diabetes risk factor. This statement is in the doctors' diagnosis handbooks. Unfortunately, many doctors do not respond to this information.
Magnesium increases insulin production and helps insulin transport glucose into the cells.
A good nutrition and magnesium intake are the first steps in treating diabetes - not taking anti-diabetic drugs.
Magnesium deficiency in sports
If you are an athlete, you may be at higher risk of a mineral deficiency, especially magnesium. One reason for this is that magnesium is mainly lost through sweat.
Magnesium and muscles
Magnesium relaxes the muscles and calcium tightens them. As previously mentioned, magnesium is the gatekeeper that only allows a small (but necessary) amount of calcium to enter a cell and then removes it.
It is a simple dynamic that runs every millisecond of every minute in our bodies. But if this process fails, most people suffer from the effects of the calcium-magnesium imbalance.
A magnesium deficiency causes muscles and nerves to twitch and cramp. Painful sore muscles can turn your calf muscles to stone as you stretch them. It is a state with which it is practically impossible to live.
If you do sports, cramps can be a big problem. This can lead to injuries and can make it impossible for athletes to participate in a competition.
If you are lucky, you have read about magnesium or heard about it from a friend or health care professional. You can use magnesium salts in baths or take a magnesium citrate drink and you will notice, that your muscles can breathe easier.
Animal studies have shown that a reduced exercise capacity can be an early sign of a magnesium deficiency. Endurance is restored after the administration of magnesium.
Most human studies confirm that every form of exercise consumes magnesium. We lose it through sweat, consume it when we exercise and need additional magnesium to neutralise lactic acid.
Magnesium is the most important nutrient for athletes who want to increase their performance, prevent the build-up of lactic acid and shorten the regeneration time.
Most doctors and trainers don't know much about magnesium because it does not show up in blood tests. In order to determine a deficiency, you should look at the list of the magnesium deficiency triggers. After that, start taking a magnesium supplement and wait to see if your symptoms improve.
Even though former athletes have been strong competitors and stars in their discipline, they can feel anxious and suffer from panic attacks after their active days as their bodies develop a level of tension and irritability they cannot handle.
When they see a doctor for their symptoms, they are usually prescribed a medication to reduce anxiety and depression.
Magnesium is a simple mineral that is often overlooked in favor of expensive supplements. Regardless of what you add, magnesium is part of the basic diet that every athlete needs.
David Pascal, DC, won the gold medal in the 1,500 meter run at the 1983 World Championships and has been working in a private chiropractic office since 1987. His clients are athletes who have participated in two Olympic Games, three World Championships and 25 US championships. Dr. Pascal's athletes won 20 medals in Beijing in 2009 - 10x gold, 5x silver and 5x bronze.
Dr. Pascal's secret weapon is the diet and a hefty dose of magnesium. Although his programme is tailored to the individual, magnesium is the key nutrient that he recommends. Pascal says:
'Magnesium is actually the 'stress mineral' and is required for around 325 different chemical processes in the body. By stress mineral, I mean that a body uses a lot of magnesium to deal with physical stress, chemical stress, and mental stress.
Naturally, the athletes are under a lot of stress, which makes magnesium an absolute necessity in order to achieve top performance.'
Magnesium deficiency in agriculture
Unfortunately, the magnesium content of the soil on which the food grows is now greatly reduced by modern agriculture, because magnesium is not part of fertilisers anymore.
As soon as plants have used up all of the soil's magnesium, the next harvest no longer contains any magnesium. Therefore, if you look at the magnesium values of the magnesium-rich foods on this page, these plants were normally grown under optimal conditions. Therefore, the numbers could be wrongly too high.
A report by the National Academy of Sciences states that 80 percent of American men and 70 percent of American women do not consume the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium in their diet.
If you consider that the recommended daily dose of magnesium is already set too low and the magnesium content of the food is greatly reduced by modern agriculture and also during processing and cooking, you will immediately understand why most people suffer from a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium blood test
Only one percent of the total magnesium in the body is in the bloodstream and this amount is kept at a constant level by various mechanisms of the body. Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions, such as the pumping function of the heart, it is so crucial that the body does everything to keep the magnesium level in the blood at a constant level.
This means that the body releases magnesium from bones and tissue when the magnesium level in the blood drops. If the value increases too high, magnesium is excreted through the urine or intestine.
Therefore, when a doctor examines the blood for magnesium, the value almost always looks normal. And since the magnesium values always seem to be normal, magnesium is not included in a routine blood test.
- A more meaningful test is the magnesium test of the red blood cells, which can give an indication of the amount of magnesium on a cell level. However, cells only contain around 40% of the magnesium in the body.
- A better magnesium blood test is the so-called ExaTest. Tissue is scraped off under the tongue and examined under the microscope. This painless test is usually performed by naturopaths and chiropractors.
- This test is not as precise as the blood test for ionised magnesium, which is unfortunately only very rarely available. This test measures the amount of free magnesium in the blood that is not bound to other minerals or proteins. You can only hope that this test is used more often by doctors so that they can diagnose a magnesium deficiency more precisely.