Many Americans do not understand the importance of magnesium in the same way they understand calcium or iron, for instance. Nonetheless, adequate magnesium levels are crucial for brain, cardiac and muscle function and it is needed, along with silica and Vitamins D and K to promote bone health. Magnesium deficiency is more common than many people suspect, and below are 5 warning signs that could indicate a deficiency in this important mineral.
1. Ringing in the Ears or Hearing Loss
Tinnitus or a constant, high-pitched ringing in the ears is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency, as is hearing loss. There have been a number of studies done on the relationship between ear health and sufficient magnesium levels. In one Chinese study, it was found that magnesium in sufficient quantities will prevent the formation of free radicals that can lead to hearing loss. In a study at the Mayo Clinic, it was found that treating patients who had experienced hearing loss with magnesium supplementation often helped restore that loss within three months.
2. Muscle Cramps or Tremors
Magnesium is crucial to optimize muscle function. Without it, the body would be in a state of convulsion, because it is this mineral that allows the muscles to relax. That is why, for instance, a magnesium oxide drip is used to ease women in labor and why magnesium is found in so many sleep-inducing supplements. A lack of sufficient magnesium, therefore, can lead to facial tics, muscle cramping, and twitching or cramping of the feet while trying to sleep.
3. Depression and Magenesium Deficiency
The link between low magnesium levels and depression was understood over a century ago when doctors would use it to treat this mental health disorder. Modern science has backed this up, with a study at a psychiatric hospital in Croatia finding that many attempted suicide patients had severely low levels of this important mineral. One advantage of magnesium over traditional antidepressants is the lack of side effects sometimes associated with these medications.
4. Abnormal Heart Function
As previously discussed, low magnesium levels can have an effect on muscles throughout the body and including the heart muscles. Insufficient magnesium can induce a condition known as cardiac arrhythmia, in which the heart fails to beat regularly and this, in turn, can cause a greater risk for complications like heart attacks and strokes. That is why, for instance, doctors at the Henry Low Heart Center in Connecticut treat their arrhythmia patients with a medication that contains magnesium.
5. Kidney Stones
Many people believe that kidney stones are caused by an excess of calcium, but in fact it is a lack of magnesium that is the culprit. Magnesium prevents the formation of these stones by inhibiting the binding of calcium with oxalate, the two compounds which make up these stones. Kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful, so it is good to know that something as simple as magnesium supplementation can prevent them!
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, consulting with a healthcare practitioner is a good idea. It is also wise to follow a diet that includes foods like okra, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, almonds, soy or black beans, cashews and spinach as these are all natural magnesium sources.