I went primal/paleo about 3.5 months ago now. It has been for the most a wonderful and exhilarating ride that has brought so much to my health. I have lost inches off my waistline, I have gained energy, I have started sleeping much better, and I just feel more youthful. And yet, about the same time I went primal I also started experiencing PMS issues, which wasn’t such a great side effect.
I went from virtually no premenstrual issues to experiencing bloating, water retention, and cramps. This was not a big deal in general because before I went off grains I was pretty much bloated all the time and barely even knew what it felt like to NOT be bloated. Still it bothered me that my health could improve on so many levels by eating paleo, but yet this one area seemed to get worse. Well, a quickie Google search about why I had a wicked craving for chocolate during that time of month lead me to the words “magnesium deficient”. I knew a little about magnesium and its role in the body but I wanted to know more and so I picked up The Magnesium Miracle.
This book has proved to be a wealth of good information. Magnesium is incredibly important to our health and yet most of us are deficient because we aren’t getting it from our food. Depleted soil is in large part to blame but our overly stressed and busy lifestyles as well as processed food diets also make it easy for us to become deficient. It is such a problem that the World Health Organization has even toyed with adding it to our water supply.
So what does Magnesium do in the body? Well, do you have the time to read a book about it?
It has such an important role in our body and it effects so many body systems that it is hard to know where to start. For one, it regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body and the most vital of those are ones that help to produce, transport, store, and utilize energy. Many aspects of our metabolism are also regulated by magnesium and it facilitates the electrical current that works its way through the miles of nerves in our body. Magnesium also determines muscle activity by controlling the entry and release of calcium inside cells. Quite simply magnesium is indispensable to life and yet it is continually being lost from our natural food supply.
In addition to being a powerhouse of information on Magnesium this book also makes and excellent case for why it is getting harder and harder to get needed minerals without supplementation. Our food supply is just not cutting it.
Just some of the things Magnesium can help you with:
- Anxiety/Panic Attacks
- Bowel Issues
- Heart Disease
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Nerve problems
- PMS, infertility, pregnancy problems
- Tooth Decay
Other helpful things I learned:
Magnesium deficiency can cause constipation, which then causes toxins to be reabsorbed into the body instead of expelled with the waste.
We have plenty of reasons to stay away from fluoride but here is another. Fluoride seeks out what little magnesium you have in the body and it binds with it, making it unavailable to do its work. The new mineral produced in the bonding also ends up taking the place of magnesium in our bones but it is brittle and makes our bones much weaker and prone to fracture.
If we are in poor health already and have a leaky gut we are more likely to not absorb the magnesium we ARE eating. A high protein diet can make the deficiency worse as can eating grains and soy because of the phytic acid content in them. I thought perhaps getting rid of grains was the issue but it seems perhaps not in light of that. Grains/soy may be high in magnesium but they also prevent you from absorbing it properly… go figure. I am guessing it is the same with nuts. I think that going grain free did move along my deficiency though, even if grains are a poor quality source.
ADHD, ADD, and autism have all been associated with magnesium deficiency and there are those in some medical circles who think it may be the cause of these issues. Adrenaline in the body causes magnesium levels to go down so hyperactive children especially need extra magnesium because of their constantly high adrenaline levels. Very interesting! The whole section of the book that addresses deficiency in kids has me looking into how I can introduce this supplement to them.
Okay so what do I need to do to bring my magnesium levels back up and alleviate some of these PMS symptoms? I could just give in to the chocolate cravings because chocolate is high in magnesium… that is why my body craved it! Most doctors advise against that though because of the sugar but I eat very dark chocolate without much sugar so no problems there. I also plan to eat more pumpkins seeds (eating some now in fact), soaked nuts, kelp, dulse, herbs, and wild greens. After reading about how grains impede magnesium absorption I am not the least bit worried about excluding them. I just have to eat more magnesium rich foods to replace what little I got from grains.
I am also using my Ancient Minerals products daily to help me absorb magnesium through the skin. I apply the spray or gel before I go to the gym and then I shower it off when I get there. After one day of using them a premenstrual backache went away. They really do work. I also hope to get more of the bath flakes and take baths in them on non gym days. Lastly, I plan to supplement with magnesium pills. I look forward to seeing how I feel a few weeks and months from now.
** Also recommended by a reader (see below) the Natural Vitality – Natural Calm Rasp-Lemon powder, which is a magnesium/calcium powder you can put in water and kids supposedly love it. Gotta try that!
Update – 4/7/2012
This update comes roughly one month later. I woke up this morning to find my monthly visitor had arrived with nary a symptom. No PMS at all. No backaches, minimal bloating, no fatigue whatsoever, and no chocolate cravings. My skin also gets a bit oily and I may get a tiny pimple or two this time of month. I had none of that this time. In fact last month I told the kids I was sick and spent two days in bed, dog tired. This month I could literally do cartwheels in the backyard. I am totally sold on magnesium supplementation at this point.
What did I do exactly? I started taking a 500mg pill every single day and eating more magnesium rich foods. I sprayed myself with magensium oil almost daily about 20 minutes before my shower because it is more easily absorbed via the skin. After strenuous CrossFit workouts I would soak in magnesium flakes and also drink dark chocolate coconut water or Natural Vitality drink products. It was pretty effortless to make these small changes but the benefit was amazing!