Magnesium Deficiencies are Quite Common
One of the most common supplements I prescribe in my practice is magnesium. While magnesium can be found in a variety of foods, it is often deficient in the average American diet. A recent study on magnesium in the American diet, has shown that nearly thirty-two percent of Americans do not get adequate magnesium. Junk food, fast food, is partly to blame, but poor nutritional absorption may also be a leading factor.
The Signs and Symptoms of a Deficiency
Symptoms of a deficiency can include muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, mental disturbances such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. If you have been diagnosed as with osteopenia or osteoporosis, than you may also be quite deficient; as magnesium is an important nutrient in healthy bone formation.
How Poor Nutrition Can Impact Mood
Mood changes are often the first symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. In fact, recurring anxiety and depression, or a depression that does not improve with medication, is often the first signs of a deficiency. This is because magnesium has a calming effect. And also helps the body produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are thought to have a profound impact on mood and over-all outlook on life. Sometimes even a slight nutritional deficiency may have a profound impact on mood. For that reason, we advice speaking to your doctor about nutrition if you are experiencing any changes in mood.
Nutritional Deficiencies May Become More Common as we Age
Causes of any nutritional deficiency can include digestive problems such as malabsorption or maldigestion. Or, simply a poor diet—that does not supply adequate nutrition—may be a risk factor. This can especially become a problem as we age. Namely, because as we age, we may lose some of our ability to digest and absorb our nutrition properly—leaving us vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. So in addition to prescribing supplements to my patients, I will often prescribe a digestive enzyme as well—to help support digestive health.
If you live alone, and find it difficult to get enthusiastic about cooking complex meals for one person, consider inviting friends over to dine with you. Or, you may want to join a group of people, like yourself, who are interested in eating nutritiously. Groups that share the work of cooking and preparing moods have become wildly popular in the United States. You may even want to start your own food share group through social networking sites like Meet Ups. these types of social groups create a community of likeminded people dedicated to health. And best of all, you can share a wonderful meal together as well.
Dosing and Prescribing
Often when I place a patient on magnesium they feel markedly better within a few days. They sleep better and report a general feeling of better over-all health. Of the several forms of magnesium on the market. I advise patients to avoid magnesium oxide, which is too hard on the stomach, and instead choose magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate, either in liquid, powder or capsule form. There are several excellent companies on the market. While taking magnesium in the capsule or pill form is the most common way to supplement, powdered magnesium can often be taken in much higher dosages, and is advised in people who are extremely deficient.
Testing Nutritional Levels
There are a wide variety of labs that I run on patients when determining the right vitamins to prescribe. And when it comes to magnesium, getting the right levels can be a challenge. Many studies indicate that testing magnesium levels in the tissue, rather than the blood, is the most accurate. However, I advice most patients to save their money when it comes to expensive lab test, especially if you are over 40. The reason why? Simply put, if you are over 40, and experience any challenges with your digestion, then more then likely you are experiencing a deficiency.
How Much Should I Take?
Depending on your health challenges, in addition to proper diet and nutrition, I usually advice between 200-1000mg of magnesium a day. I advice people to start with a lower dose to start before going to higher dosages; as higher dosages can cause side-effects like, gastric upset and diarrhea. If you have had a past medical condition, like Crohn’s disease, or IBS, than supplementation is highly advised.
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I look forward to helping you on your journey