Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies need for over 600 cellular processes. Our bodies do not manufacture magnesium; the foods we eat supply the body with magnesium. Researchers believe that some of our conventionally grown foods are deficient in magnesium, which is due to the soil being depleted of certain nutrients. Many researchers recommend that we choose organically grown vegetables since many organic growers replace the nutrients lost through farming, by properly amending the soil.
Many functions in the body rely on Magnesium. It helps to maintain the proper function of the central nervous system and low levels can be associated with changes in brain function and mood. Low magnesium levels are commonly found in people with Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, depression, and Autism. People who experience migraine headaches are often found to have low levels of magnesium as well.
Our immune system relies on magnesium to keep us healthy. Low levels of magnesium are associated with a poorly functioning immune system. This is partly because viruses and bacteria are stressors for the body, and when the body is under stress it uses more magnesium. Physical and emotional stress is very common in our modern lives. When we are under stress, the body uses more magnesium to help our minds and bodies cope. This depletes our magnesium stores and lowers our immune system.
The proper function of our muscles is dependent on adequate levels of magnesium. Often people with a low magnesium level will experience muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and more. Low levels of magnesium affect our muscles’ ability to relax and the body’s pain levels. Pain sufferers are often advised to try increasing their intake of magnesium to see whether it helps to reduce their pain levels.
Magnesium and Pain
Pain in the body is most often caused by inflammation. Inflammation is a sign that something is not functioning well in the body, or that the body is dealing with a lot of emotional or physical stress.
Magnesium plays a key role in controlling the level of inflammation in our bodies since it regulates so many cell functions. The level of inflammation in our bodies can be measured by using a blood test to check our C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) levels in the body and can be ordered by any physician. This is the blood marker of inflammation; if it is high, then you have too much inflammation in your body. Many people with a high hs-CRP blood result will also have low magnesium levels. The two are intimately connected. There are studies that show that supplementing with magnesium can dramatically reduce a person’s hs-CRP and inflammation, thus reducing pain.
Blood Test for Magnesium
If your blood work comes back that you have high hs-CRP, then it is worthwhile to also have your blood tested to check your levels of magnesium. You will want to ask your practitioner to order a test called the RBC Magnesium (Red Blood Cell Magnesium) because it measures the levels of magnesium in the cell, rather than strictly checking the level of magnesium floating freely in your blood, as it does in the Serum Magnesium blood test. It is a good idea to get a baseline reading of your levels of magnesium so that you know how aggressively you need to work to bring those levels back up.
Foods High in Magnesium
The first line of defense to controlling inflammation is to increase our intake of foods that are high in magnesium. Here is a list of foods that are easy to add into your daily routine to help increase and maintain your magnesium levels.
- Swiss chard
- Pumpkin seeds
- Yogurt or Kefir
- Black Beans
- Dark Chocolate
Some people find that they cannot increase their magnesium levels through food intake alone. This is understandable given the state of our soils today. In this case, supplementation might be needed in the short term to increase magnesium levels and control pain levels in the body. There are many forms of magnesium but not all are created equally. The best forms of magnesium supplements are:
- Magnesium Orotate
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Magnesium Taurate
- Magnesium Sulphate
These forms do not cause digestive upset and are easily absorbed. Avoid taking magnesium citrate as it may cause loose stools and disrupt how your body absorbs iron.
Topical Application of Magnesium
Another excellent way to increase your magnesium levels is to apply magnesium topically. You can do this by using magnesium oil, or by taking a relaxing bath in Epsom salts. People with absorption issues in their digestive system (which can be common in people with inflammation) may not adequately absorb the magnesium they take orally, so applying it topically is helpful since it skips the digestive system and is absorbed through the skin.
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