(NaturalNews) The phrase "overweight and undernourished" has become a popular truth, and magnesium deficiency in overweight individuals is a striking example. It is no coincidence that magnesium deficiency and obesity are both widespread conditions in our society. So as we battle against obesity we must remember to include magnesium as part of our weaponry. It is a vital nutrient in the quest to reach a healthy weight, for several reasons:
Nutrients and Energy
The body requires magnesium to absorb and utilize nutrients. Without it, the body cannot properly use the fats, proteins and carbohydrates we eat every day. When we aren't getting what we need from our diet, the body will crave more food in an effort to obtain those vital nutrients. By activating hundreds of enzymes in the body, magnesium helps you get the most from what you eat, so your body can be satisfied with the amount of food you genuinely need.
Getting the proper nutrients from your food is also an important part of feeling energized. We need magnesium to help us utilize those vital nutrients that provide us with energy. Otherwise we are plagued with fatigue and sluggishness.
Insulin and Blood Sugar
Several recent studies have shown the lower a person's natural magnesium intake is the higher his/her risk for developing diabetes. Conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes are strongly associated with obesity, so controlling blood sugar levels is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight. When enough magnesium is present in the body, insulin can function properly and blood glucose is used for energy. A magnesium deficiency causes insulin to function poorly, resulting in high blood sugar and fat storage.
Stress management is one of the most important keys in fighting obesity, and magnesium is a vital nutrient for reducing stress. This is because magnesium supports healthy adrenal glands. These are the glands that control the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones related to stress response. While these hormones are vital to living, too much of them can cause weight gain and other health problems. Magnesium helps regulate these hormones so they are not overproduced.
Magnesium also regulates nervous system response. When we have a magnesium deficiency, our nervous system is overstimulated, leading to irritation, nervousness and stress. A similar problem occurs in our muscles when there isn't enough magnesium present. People with magnesium deficiencies often experience frequent muscles cramps, spasms and tightening. These symptoms often disappear when adequate magnesium is available. When there is plenty of magnesium, the mind and body are finally able to relax and reverse the effects of stress.
How to Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Food - The most effective way of increasing your magnesium intake is through food. Magnesium from food sources is more easily absorbed and utilized compared to magnesium in supplement form. Foods rich in magnesium include almonds, brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, buckwheat, cashews, kelp, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and whole grains. Junk foods, like refined sugar and processed foods, drain the body of magnesium and should be avoided.
Supplements - In addition to eating a healthy diet rich in magnesium, many people find it helpful to supplement with additional magnesium. Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms used because it is widely available and easy to absorb. Magnesium in powdered form is best, but capsules are also acceptable.
Dosage varies from 300-900 mg per day depending on your needs and lifestyle factors (for instance, heavy exercisers need more magnesium because of minerals lost during physical activity). It's best to start small and use divided doses, such as 150 mg twice per day. Increase gradually as needed. Loose stools may be a sign that you are using too much supplemental magnesium or that you should divide the doses further.
As a side note, calcium is often taken with magnesium at a 2:1 ratio. Many leading magnesium experts say a ratio closer to 1:1 is more ideal, especially if you are deficient in magnesium.
For More Information:
Dean, Carolyn. (2006) The Magnesium Miracle. Published by Ballantine Books.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...