Why is there so much buzz about magnesium these days — at least among the health-conscious?
Often touted as a panacea, magnesium does perform a host of essential roles in the body. But don’t get too carried away with the concept. Medical experts at the Mayo Clinic indicate it can:
· normalize blood pressure
· strengthen bones
· regulate heart rhythm
· play a role in muscle and nerve function
· manufacture certain proteins
· aid in the treatment of asthma, hot flashes, and leg cramps
My initial interest in magnesium was fueled by a desire to improve my hypertension, which is part of my parents’ medical legacy. I do think it has helped to lower my numbers.
Here’s what the experts deem to be magnesium’s one-two punch in the high blood pressure fight:
As a result, nutritional magnesium has both direct and indirect impacts on the regulation of blood pressure and therefore on the occurrence of hypertension.
NIH scientists have linked magnesium deficiency to an increase in inflammation, leading to heart disease or diabetes conditions. Too, they have detected severe deficiencies in older adults afflicted with kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, and alcoholism.
But there is no reason to dash to the store and begin sucking down magnesium pills. Downing megadoses of any supplement can prove dangerous.
The best sources of magnesium remain in food, as is the case with many vitamins and nutrients. Yes, it comes down to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
So never take more than the recommended daily allowance or RDA of any vitamin or supplement. Also, never initiate any dietary or supplement change without first consulting with your healthcare provider. He or she is highly trained in identifying contraindications. Combining magnesium with a prescription drug can interfere with the medicine’s benefit, interact negatively with other herbal products, or even render a life-threatening effect.
For instance, physicians often recommend magnesium during pregnancy, but that might not apply to every expectant mother. A pregnant woman should adhere to her doctor’s specific advice.
My unexpected personal benefit from oral magnesium supplementation has been a noticeable improvement in my sleep quality.
Some users will take magnesium oil, which usually comes in a spray bottle, and mist the bottoms of their feet to improve various ills, including insomnia and pain relief.
Don’t laugh. It’s a proven fact that substances applied to the soles of the feet can travel upward through the body. Scientists at the American Chemical Society have conducted experiments where subjects can taste raw garlic rubbed on those areas within an hour.
It’s another byproduct of nature’s magic. A chemical called allicin, which can irritate the stomach in sensitive individuals, contains both oil and water properties that aid in garlic’s absorption by the bloodstream.
However, I have never found magnesium oil spray to be effective as a sleep aid, and other purported uses constitute a cross between anecdote and rumor. As suggested previously, check with your doctor. Self-medicating or guessing the proper delivery method is a bad idea.
What about those magnesium-rich food sources? Here is a partial list:
· bottled or tap water (seriously)
An ounce of almonds or cashews can supply 20% of your daily needs for magnesium, but don’t assume that more is better. Nuts are highly nutritious, but their caloric fat content can make you accumulate body flab at a record pace.
Monitoring your daily dosage can be complicated because magnesium is available in several compounds. An example is this list identified by institutions like Memorial Sloan-Kettering:
· magnesium glycinate
· magnesium oxide
· magnesium carbonate
· magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
· magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt)
As a matter of fact, any prescription drugs you’re taking now could contain this mineral.
In summary, magnesium performs important bodily functions, but never use any supplement without seeking medical counsel. Foods remain the best sources to meet your nutritional needs, and many of them offer great taste as a bonus.