I used to poo only once a week.
(How’s that for an attention grabber?)
From childhood, I was bloated all the time. Sometimes the gastric pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand upright, walking doubled over like a 95 year old using a cane too short, or curled up in a ball on the floor, crying.
I learned the word “hemorrhoids” as a preteen. The solitary “relief” I found every 7-10 days was so painful that I cried nearly every time.
This was no life, but was touted as “normal” for years. Doctors told my mom when I was a kid to simply increase my fiber intake with more fruits and vegetables in my diet. She loaded me up all the time and, thankfully, I’ve always loved most of them. But the effort had no effect.
It wasn’t until many years later, in my 30s, that I would discover the concept of “gut health” that literally rocked my world. In particular, this special little supplement called magnesium.
The FDA reports that approximately 55% of the US population is deficient in magnesium, and some nutrition experts estimate it to be between 70-80% of the population.
Just sounds like another one of those health junkie statistics, right? We’re “deficient” in a lot of things these days . People tend to stop listening when you throw stats at them. But bear with me for a bit.
So what makes magnesium so important?
Well, how many of you currently struggle with constipation and bloating? Oh yeah, I went there. Because that’s one of the most common associations with a magnesium deficiency. But there are many more…
Stressed? Anxious? Trouble focusing?
Not sleeping well? Chronic fatigue? Have trouble relaxing?
Dealing with muscle cramps or spasms? Aching joints? Headaches and migraines? Fibromyalgia? Osteoporosis?
High blood pressure? Reflux? Kidney stones? Diabetes?
According to the National Institute of Health and nutrition experts, these things can be the result of or made worse by a magnesium deficiency, since it’s directly involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body.
Of course, our cultural diet plays a big role in this deficiency. So much of the food we eat is highly processed and consists of choices containing lots of meat, white flour and dairy – none of which contain magnesium. And even in vegetables, the amount of magnesium available has significantly reduced due to soil depletion over the last several decades.
A higher rate of synthetic prescription medications and antibiotics in our culture has also contributed to an increased portion of the population suffering from damage to the digestive tract, making it harder for our bodies to absorb magnesium and other nutrients from food.
There are three main ways to work toward correcting the magnesium deficiency in your body: through magnesium rich foods, supplements and magnesium oil and lotion. I highly recommend that all three become a part of your daily routine.
The top ten foods containing magnesium are:
- Spinach (1 cup of cooked = 39% of DV)
- Swiss Chard (1 cup, cooked = 38% DV)
- Dark Chocolate (1 square = 24% DV)
- Dried Pumpkin Seeds (⅛ cup = 23% DV)
- Almonds (1 ounce = 19% DV)
- Black Beans (½ cup = 15% DV)
- Avocado (1 whole = 15% DV)
- Dried Figs (½ cup = 13% DV)
- Yogurt or Kefir (1 cup = 12% DV)
- Banana (8% DV)
Magnesium supplements* are vital because, unless you’re eating 5-6 cups of cooked spinach or about 12 bananas a day, you’re not going to get enough through food alone. A magnesium supplement will help regulate your digestive tract, flushing out toxins and oxygenating the body, all of which can help with a number of ailments beyond digestive issues. How much you need each day varies by how your body response and whether or not you’re utilizing other “gut health” supplements (which I highly recommend you do!), such NOW L-Glutamine and a high-quality probiotic (check out my video on what to look for in a probiotic).
*Of note, if you’re taking thyroid medication, then you have to separate that and magnesium supplement intake by at least 4 hours because it can inhibit the absorption of thyroid meds if taken too close together.
Magnesium lotions (look for something elementally sourced with at least 12% ratio or 125 mg of magnesium per dose) and oils are effective at relieving pain. I’m also a prime example of the effectiveness of magnesium through this application. I have an ongoing problem with my shoulder due to years of strain. Magnesium rich lotion has been one of the only things that brings me relief in between chiropractor appointments.
Rub some magnesium lotion or oil on aching joints and muscles or take a magnesium bath (which increases your absorption of the mineral). Use magnesium on your temples and the back of your neck when suffering from a headache or migraine. If you choose to go with an oil, make sure you’re educated on proper application and dilution. I prefer a magnesium lotion or magnesium spray because it feels great on the skin and already has the proper dilution ratio.
And, while your doctor likely won’t test for a magnesium deficiency, and magnesium supplementation is not often “prescribed,” the medical world is well aware of its benefits. Dr. Mark Hyman recalls in a blog post how they used magnesium frequently when he worked in the emergency room:
“I find it funny that more doctors aren’t clued in to the benefits of magnesium, because we use it all the time in conventional medicine… It was critical ‘medication’ on the crash cart. If someone was dying of a life-threatening arrhythmia (or irregular heart beat), we used intravenous magnesium. If someone was constipated or needed to prepare for colonoscopy, we gave them milk of magnesia or a green bottle of liquid magnesium citrate, which emptied their bowels. If pregnant women came in with pre-term labor, or high blood pressure of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) or seizures, we gave them continuous high doses of intravenous magnesium.”
I’m not quantifiable expert by societal standards, but I’m passionate about helping others to work toward physical abundance and feeling better than they ever have, just as I am. While I’ve personally gleaned this information on the need for magnesium through my own thorough research, the personal experience carries a lot of weight too. Chronic constipation is a thing of the past for me now. While a number of health and lifestyle changes have contributed to this, magnesium supplements play a vital role. My shoulder and restless legs can get some relief at night thanks to my magnesium lotion.
One might deduce that magnesium is a vital part of my abundant life. You should make it part of yours — you’ll be glad of it, I’m certain.