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Magnesium: Health Benefits and Uses

With today’s busy schedules it is becoming more and more difficult to find enough time to prepare and eat well balanced meals.  Because of this, many people are not getting the vitamins and minerals that are necessary to live a healthy life.  Multi-vitamins have become a popular source for obtaining many of the vitamins in which people are deficient.  Also, calcium supplements are widely available for children who need added bone growth support as well as older people who are trying to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.  While these supplements are all well and good, there is one mineral deficiency that is often overlooked.  That mineral is known as magnesium. 

Seventy-five percent of American adults suffer from magnesium deficiency. Even though it is considered as one of the most overlooked minerals, the body uses it in over three hundred chemical reactions. Some of these chemical reactions include protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation.  Magnesium is vital for strong red blood cells and for helping our bodies make optimal use of oxygen.  This helps us burn more calories and feel more energized.

Effects and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

A prolonged lack of magnesium in your diet has many consequences.  One of the main effects is a lack of energy.  Low magnesium levels also hinder the body’s ability to store energy.  Some early symptoms of magnesium deficiency are leg cramps and muscle twitches.  Other symptoms of magnesium deficiency include weakness, anxiety, fatigue and irritability.  As the deficiency worsens, symptoms may include numbness, tingling, heart rhythm changes and seizures.

Why we need magnesium

Magnesium is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter laxative medications and is a natural remedy for relieving constipation.  It is also necessary for healthy bones and for preventing osteoporosis.  It strengthens the heart muscle and helps protect blood vessels in the body.  Magnesium is a natural blood thinner and is often used by physicians to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Scientists have confirmed that magnesium levels are very low in people who suffer from diabetes.  Therefore, supplementing with magnesium helps reverse some diabetic symptoms which may otherwise lead to diabetes.

The best way to add more magnesium to your diet is by eating magnesium-rich foods.  Some of the best sources for magnesium are green leafy vegetable, nuts, bananas, avocados, beans, potatoes and whole grain breads and cereals.   For those who are taking calcium supplements, magnesium should be taken at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.  The recommended daily allowance for magnesium in adults is between 270 and 400 milligrams.  However, some health professionals suggest taking twice that amount.  They also suggest taking magnesium at night since it helps with sleep and relaxation.  No matter what source you choose, keep in mind that magnesium-rich whole foods are the best way to add more magnesium to your diet.

The following will give you a little information about the amount of magnesium contained in certain foods.

Food,Milligrams per serving
-Spinach, boiled, one-half cup, 78
-Cashews, dry roasted, one ounce, 74
-Black beans, cooked, one-half cup, 60
-Whole wheat bread, two slices, 46
-Avocado, cubed, one cup, 44
-Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces, 43
-Brown rice, cooked, one-half cup, 42
-Oatmeal, instant, one packet, 36
-Kidney beans, canned, one-half cup, 35
-Banana, one medium, 32

Magnesium Oil

An easy and effective source of magnesium is magnesium oil.  This oil can be sprayed directly on the skin, taken internally or mixed in warm bath water. The oil is colorless and odorless and feels very light on the skin. Magnesium oil is available at most health stores or it can easily be made at home.

What you will need:

1. Magnesium chloride flakes – one half cup
2. Distilled water – one half cup
3. A bowl and measuring cup
4. Spray bottle

Simply mix one half cup of boiling distilled water with one half cup of magnesium chloride flakes.  Stir well until the magnesium chloride flakes are completely dissolved, and let cool.  Pour the cooled mixture into a spray bottle, and it is ready to use.  Magnesium oil will last for about six months as long as it is kept at room temperature.

How to use:

Magnesium oil can be sprayed on your legs, arms, neck and stomach every day. Be sure to apply the oil in all of these places so that it can be better distributed throughout the body. A good amount to use is between ten and twenty sprays each day. It is normal to feel a slight tingling sensation after the first few applications, but this should go away quickly.  For best results, apply magnesium oil after a bath at night before going to bed.  After the oil has dried (it usually takes about five minutes to dry) apply a light moisturizer to your skin.  Applying the oil before bed will help reduce stress as well as help with relaxation and sleep.

Since the kidneys will eliminate excess amounts of magnesium in the urine, it is very unlikely to get too much magnesium from eating magnesium-rich foods. However, high amounts of magnesium from supplements and medications frequently cause diarrhea as well as stomach cramps and nausea.  Also, large doses of antacids and laxatives that contain high amounts of magnesium can cause magnesium toxicity.  Those with impaired renal function or kidney failure are more susceptible to this and should be very careful when taking these medications.  Symptoms of magnesium toxicity can include nausea, vomiting, depression, ileus and lethargy. More severe cases of magnesium deficiency may cause you to experience muscle weakness, breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeat and possibly cardiac arrest.

Magnesium is a versatile and vital nutrient that many health professionals believe is the most important nutrient for human health.  It helps us relax, gives us energy and keeps our heart and blood vessels healthy.  Even though magnesium is one of the most important minerals, magnesium deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world.  Remember that natural whole foods are the best sources for magnesium.  However, magnesium supplements or magnesium oil spray is very effective if whole foods are not available.

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