Which Nutrients are You Lacking and Which May Be The Most Important?

Pumpkin Seeds Are a Great Soure of Magnesium

There are many nutrients most Americans are deficient in.  Studies show that the standard American diet is deficient in at least 9 essential nutrients; Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Fiber, Calcium (debatable), Magnesium, Potassium and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Of these do you know which ones you need every day or maybe a better question is which ones could cause you health problems the quickest if you do not get them daily?

Our body needs literally thousand of nutrients to promote vibrant health, however other than water, certain minerals are needed every day, particularly if you are very active.  Trace minerals are just as essential as major minerals; they are just required in smaller quantities. Without minerals, vitamins are useless in the body. Vitamins need enzymes for many of their functions. Enzymes require minerals to do their work, in this sense they are  co-factors. Enzymes cannot work without minerals (co-factors), and each enzyme is designed to work with a particular co-factor. If the particular co-factor is not present the enzyme will simply sit around watching You Tube, sorry, my weak attempt at humor.  OK, how about the enzyme can do nothing, it is useless.

Of the minerals, it is my opinion that for Americans, magnesium seems to be one of the most important because it is required in so many body functions. A large percentage of Americans are lacking adequate magnesium.  You can go several days or even weeks before needing certain vitamins, however you must have some intake of most minerals at least every couple of days. If you are really active, ill or sweating a lot you will need them everyday.  Minerals  are used by the body and excreted easily.  If you are using diuretics , exercising intensely or sweating profusely,  a diet deficient in the  electrolytes, potassium, sodium and chloride can cause severe health problems requiring a  sudden need for emergency medical treatment.

Caution: Do not drink extremely large quantities of water in a short period of time without replacing your electrolytes. A radio station sponsored a water drinking contest a few years ago. One participant drank almost 2 gallons of water over a period of approximately an hour and a half, she died from an extreme loss of electrolytes.   Get those minerals every day.

How Does a Magnesium Deficiency Effect the Body?

Do you get adequate magnesium in your diet? Almost two thirds  of Americans are deficient in magnesium, a nutrient that is essential to more than 300 activities in our bodies. Magnesium provides your muscles the ability to relax, it moves calcium out of your blood and into bones, it is required to keep blood circulating and the heart beating and it is essential to keep your nervous system and brain healthy.

If you have muscle cramps, particularly at night, the odds are great that you may be lacking magnesium; if you have trouble sleeping you may be low in magnesium, if you are fatigued it could be a lack of magnesium. If you have high blood pressure it may be due to insufficient magnesium, if you are diabetic, low levels of magnesium may be involved, magnesium is critical for carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium helps keep the heart in a healthy rhythm,  is necessary for protein synthesis and cellular reproduction.

Magnesium is required for good bone health. Magnesium moves calcium out of the blood and  towards bone. In fact a large percentage of the magnesium in your body is in your bones. Magnesium is critical for heart health. It helps blood vessels relax reducing blood pressure and it helps lower triglyceride levels in your blood. Magnesium is also required to make certain detoxing compounds and for a strong immune system.

What Affects Magnesium Absorption?

Magnesium absorption is affected by many factors. Cooking by submersion in water will leach magnesium and other minerals from the food source. Eating a combination of cooked and raw vegetables will maximize your magnesium intake. Steaming or raw is better (legumes must be cooked).  Excessive calcium and zinc intake can cause a magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium absorption may be reduced by gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, the use of laxatives, chronic diarrhea, oral contraceptives, high caffeine intake, over exercising, diabetes, advanced age and alcoholism.”

In addition, taking certain diuretics specifically Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide, certain cancer medications like Cisplatin and certain antibiotics such as Gentamicin, and Amphotericin also interferes with magnesium absorption.

Magnesium may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions and symptoms:

  • Alcoholism
  • Angina pectoris
  • Arrhythmia
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Eclampsia
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • PMS
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Reynaud’s syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sensitiveness to noise
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mental depression
  • Confusion
  • Twitching
  • Trembling
  • Apprehension
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps in the toes, feet, legs or fingers

How Much You Should be Getting Daily:

If you get too much the body will excrete it through your waste. This is why magnesium is used as a very safe laxative such as milk of magnesia. The Recommended Dietary Allowances for magnesium, set in 1997 by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, are as follows:

  • males and females, 1-3 years: 80 milligrams
  • males and females, 4-8 years: 130 milligrams
  • males and females, 9-13 years: 240 milligrams
  • males, 14-18 years: 410 milligrams
  • males, 19-30 years: 400 milligrams
  • males, 31 years and older: 420 milligrams
  • females, 14-18 years: 360 milligrams
  • females, 19-30 years: 310 milligrams
  • females, 31 years and older: 320 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 18 years or younger: 400 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 19-30 years: 350 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 31-50 years: 360 milligrams

Excellent Food Sources include:

Swiss chard, kelp, millet, salmon, halibut, rice bran, oat bran, buckwheat, bulghur wheat, quinoa,  brown rice, spinach, squash, soybeans, turnip greens, green peas, pumpkin seeds, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, almonds, black beans, pinto beans and navy beans. For more foods and their magnesium content check out this USDA list.

Make sure get your daily magnesium, you might be amazed at the health benefits it will  provide for you.

Wally Bishop C.N.C.


This contents of this blog is not and should not be  considered as medical advise. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.

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