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Friday, May 27, 2011

More Important than Calcium?

I have been learning a lot the last few months about magnesium and how important it is to our body chemistry and health. Everything I've read says that nearly everyone in this country is magnesium-deficient (the World Health Organization puts it at three fourths of the population!), with a plethora of undesirable symptoms resulting: "Those who suffer from magnesium deficiency experience a wide range of symptoms that can vary from low level to debilitating. And those who choose to correct their deficiencies commonly experience a long sought-after respite from conditions such as migraines, chronic pain, low energy and insomnia." (See more details about magnesium deficiency here, including why more of us aren't clinically diagnosed.)

So why can't we all just correct this deficiency by taking an oral supplement? (Here is an excellent two minute video of a doctor talking on the subject.) Because most people's intestines can only handle a small amount of magnesium--it's a diarhetic--and because even if yours can handle more than most, the body can only process/absorb a very small percentage of magnesium taken orally. So, if you're lucky, it could take up to several years of regular oral supplementation before your body is able to assimilate what you give it, a moderate dosage, that is. But we need magnesium in such high dosages that oral supplementation simply doesn't make sense.

So what other option is there?

Here's where magnesium oil comes in. When magnesium is applied transdermally (or topically), it is absorbed through the skin and can easily be assimilated by the body, since it doesn't have to be processed by the intestines--and therefore causes no gastrointestinal issues.

I first learned about the importance of magnesium a few months ago when I spoke with the woman I mentioned here and here, who is both a nurse and a person who researches, thinks practically, and practices natural living. From her I learned that two symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are the inability to sleep through the night and being overwhelmed by tasks. That's when I decided I definitely needed to get some magnesium oil and start using it on myself and my two little girls. I ordered from this company, which is the same one this woman gets her magnesium oil from (although, this other company looks at least as good to me; I'm not sure what the difference is in quality or purity). My mother also ordered some, hoping for a cure for her migraines. So far, I feel like it's helping me. Time will tell for everyone else. Oh, and just an FYI, women who are breastfeeding (like myself) need even more magnesium than pregnant women, and men need more magnesium than women.

But knowing the following about magnesium makes me want to keep trying:

"After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element needed by our bodies, activating over 300 different biochemical reactions necessary for your body to function properly.

"Magnesium protects against heart disease and heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke, type II diabetes and much, much more. It is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium and regulates all three of them. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it is magnesium that is actually most important in building strong bones and preventing bone loss.

"While anyone should be able to increase the magnesium they get from wise diet choices, it is exceedingly difficult for the general public to consume enough magnesium through dietary sources alone.

"Only supplementation is likely to make up for such a widespread deficiency in magnesium. Foods cannot easily be fortified with magnesium because it is a bulky mineral that would alter the consistency and taste of flour and foods. Magnesium cannot be added to tap water because it would erode piping." (Read much more at

"One general rule of thumb is a daily intake of magnesium of approximately 3-4 mg per pound of bodyweight. For a 200 lb male, this would equate to 600 mg to 800 mg per day." (Read more about magnesium supplementation and use here.)

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