Muscle spasms, cramps, back and neck pain, low energy or insomnia are common problems that plague us daily. If thousands of rupees and hours spent in physiotherapy have given you little respite, the cause might lie deep within the body. The mineral ‘magnesium’ maybe subtly playing havoc with your body causing in extreme cases, Vertigo, Migraine and acute muscle weakness.
Minerals are inorganic elements that make up the earth. Abundant as they are, it is but natural that some of them end up in the human body. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body with half of it present in the bones and the other half inside the cells of soft tissue- muscles, endocrine glands, organs.
Magnesium is a necessary ingredient for more than 350 enzyme systems in our body and plays an important role for more than 80% of its metabolic processes. By binding and activating the enzymes and compounds required for various chemical reactions in the body, magnesium becomes a co factor. It is a co factor of adenosine triphosphate or ATP which is the energy currency of the cell. Hence in case of unavailability of magnesium, body cannot produce enough energy required to function. It is also a cofactor for a group of enzymes that help in replication and repair of genetic material of our body- DNA and RNA. And for many nutrients and vitamins of the body- zinc, vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium etc.
A blood test of RBC-Mg helps in diagnosing whether you have magnesium deficiency. The doctor may order other tests like Magnesium Burn Rate (MBR) for a detailed analysis.
Magnesium can be found naturally in Spinach, Coconuts, Dates, most nuts, Crab, Shrimp, Salmon, tuna and cereals like Rice and Wheat. But over cultivation and mass production has resulted in a decline in the magnesium composition of these foods. In a research conducted at the University of Texas compared the nutritional values of more than 40 vegetables and fruits between crops grown in 1950s and 1999. It was seen the former had 38% higher nutrient content than the latter.
Expressed in bodily terms, magnesium serves the following functions:
- It is essential for proper functioning and relaxation of muscles. Prevents muscle spasms and cramps.
- Plays an important role in maintaining the structure, integrity and proper functioning of the cell including nerve cells.
- Supports cell detoxification by protecting the cells from accumulating heavy metals like mercury, lead etc.
- Helps in production of glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant to detoxify the body.
- Helps maintain healthy bones and teeth.
- Regulates blood sugar levels, preventing both high & low blood sugar.
A word of caution
Magnesium supplement may be contraindicated in certain conditions and some medications. Hence the supplement should only be taken after doctor advice. Moreover, the dosage, frequency, form and type of magnesium supplement required varies from person to person and should only be decided by registered medical practitioner.