Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium Deficiency

Quite some time back, after a round of blood tests, my hematologist saw fit to ask me about my drinking habits. My wife being on hand, we confessed that we do imbibe, but only modestly, limiting alcohol to one or two glasses of wine on the weekends.

The question turned out to be because my blood tests had shown that my magnesium levels were low.

Initially, I was not worried about this. Magnesium? So what. I knew it was a constituent in some fireworks, but did not otherwise think it significant.

However, after someone kindly sent me some maagnesium data, I got seriously related. Not having enough magnesium can really screw you up. Most worryingly of all, part of the downside can be kidney stones, an agonisingly painful condition that I want to avoid at all costs.

Magnesium-rich foods include potato peels and certain nuts. But which nuts? I've lost the data I was sent, so, rather than eating magnesium-rich nuts, I've been eating nuts in general, which is not really the way to go.

So, with my next set of blood tests coming up this Friday, the 26th October 2007, I've finally gone online to refresh my magnesium deficiency concept.

Google "magnesium deficiency" and you get "about" 1,830,000 pages.

If you put the search term in quotes then the pages drop to about 300,000, with the snippet for the first being this:

[Conditions Linked to Deficiencies of Magnesium
Reviews mitral valve prolapse as a symptom of a magnesium deficiency as well as anxiety and psychiatric disorders, asthma, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue ... - 36k - Cached - Similar pages]

Now, if you add in "nuts" ... you get barely 41,400 pages ... of which one is the following:

[Health Magnesium, Magnesium Deficiency and Benefit of Magnesium ...
Rich vegan sources include legumes such as beans and peas, nuts and seeds, ... Severe magnesium deficiency can result in low levels of calcium in the blood, ... - 67k - Cached - Similar pages]

The actual page in question is this:

Here is a quote:

[ Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the body and is very essential for good health. It is mostly found in the bones (around 50%), teeth, and red blood cells. The other half is largely found inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in blood. The body takes magnesium from the diet and excretes the excess through urine and stool. A balanced diet contains enough magnesium for the body's functional requirements.]

It's a long article so I did a wrap-around search for "nuts" and hit "cashew nuts". I then did a Google for ["cashew nuts" "magnesium deficiency"] and got about 299 pages, one suggesting that cashew nuts are pretty magical things:

[Eliminate Tooth Infection (Abscess) With Cashew Nuts
It is proposed that anacardic acids in raw cashew nuts will cure tooth abscess or ... Magnesium deficiency has been proposed as causing lower tooth density, ... - 39k - Cached - Similar pages

This was not giving me what I wanted, which was a list of magnesium-rich nuts, so I decided to see if Wikipedia had a page for magnesium deficiency.

It turns out that Wikipedia has two pages, one for this deficiency in plants, and the other for the same problem in humans. I believe that I am a human rather than a plant, so I went for the human-relevant page, which is this:

Note that diet can fix you up, up to a point, but "intravenous supplementation is necessary for more severe cases."

("Nurse! His magnesium is critically low! Put up a drip! Now!")

Here is a quote from the page's SYMPTOMS section:

[Possible symptoms and pathologies as a result of magnesium deficiency are widespread, but may include: Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Vitamin K deficiency, depressed immunity, depression, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, increased levels of stress, insomnia, migraine, cancer, ADHD, asthma, and allergies.]

And note that:

"68% of the US population do not meet the US RDA for levels of magnesium."

There is also a page for Hypomagnesemia, which is this:


[The prefix hypo- means low (contrast with hyper-, meaning high). The middle magnes refers to magnesium. The end portion of the word, -emia, means 'in the blood' (note, however, that hypomagnesemia is usually indicative of a systemic magnesium deficit). Thus, Hypomagnesemia is an electrolyte disturbance in which there is an abnormally low level of magnesium in the blood. Usually a serum level less than 0.7 mmol/l is used as reference. It must be noted that hypomagnesemia is not equal to magnesium deficiency. Hypomagnesemia can be present without magnesium deficiency and vice versa.]

All I wanted was a list of magnesium-rich nuts, which I thought would take 30 seconds to find ... but when I started this search it was Tuesday, and now, suddenly, it is Wednesday.

Okay, let's try:

[list magnesium-rich nuts]

Looking at the results, this is NOT the search I need to do. Okay, try this:

"magnesium-rich nuts"

Okay, only about nine pages, with the snippet for one being this:

[Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day- Quick & Simple
Combine leafy greens like spinach or broccoli, which are high in magnesium, with a protein-rich omelet, or add magnesium-rich nuts like almonds, ... - 41k - Cached - Similar pages]

Okay ... cashew nuts, almonds ...

The page is this:

And here is a short list of relevant nuts:

[Combine leafy greens like spinach or broccoli, which are high in magnesium, with a protein-rich omelet, or add magnesium-rich nuts like almonds, peanuts or cashews to your cereal or oatmeal.]

Okay, already done ... my daily cereal, Alara Deluxe Muesli comes already with a bunch of nut fragments. Here in Japan we buy it at Seijo Ishi, which has a number of branches scattered around the place, one at Atre at Ebisu, for example, and one down in the basement level below the JR station on the Yamanote Line which is the terminus of the Toyoko Line ... can't remember the name of the station ... the magnesium deficiency must be hitting me real hard! ... humiliatingly, I ended up having to Google this. The answer is "Shibuya." Of course ...

Okay then, here it is, a list of magnesium-rich nuts: cashews, almonds, peanuts ... and Googling that list in conjunction with the term "magnesium" I arrve at this:

[Nutrition | Ludlow Nut Co.
Magnesium is a mineral that is abundantly found in nature. ... Products: peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, ... - 19k - Cached - Similar page]

The page is this:

And it has a good list of magnesium-rich nuts, as follows:

[Products: {sources of magnesium} peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, dates, prunes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, linseed and tomatoes.]

The good news, obviously, is that peanuts are a good source of magnesium. Good because peanuts are the cheapest nuts of all.

We don't currently have any nuts in the house, for the simple reason that I've gone and eaten them, but I think we do have some choco pies downstairs, and I'm going to head down to the kitchen now to check out that hypothesis. It's now 06:20 and I feel in need of some nutritional assistance ...

I used to think the three important food groups were chocolate, ice cream and liquorice allsorts, but obviously this theory, while attractive, was insufficient ...


Blogger Richard Tew said...

Hi Hugh,

I recommend this site for finding foods by their mineral content:

Half-way down the page, there is a "featured tools" section. In the center is a "nutrient search" tool. Click on that and search for magnesium.

There is also bio-availability, which determines how much your body can extract from what is available in the food.. but beats me how that works.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Sergio said...

Hi, Hugh and everybody else,

I'm Brazilian, 49 years old.
My experience with magnesium started when I suffered from insomnia and chronic fatigue syndrome. At that time my intestines were very lazy, only worked once a day - and with a lot of effort!

Now it works 5 times a day, and the change started with magnesium chloryde. Also, flaxseeds, papaya, more water, etc.

My insonia is history, I'm back to good mood, my brain decided to work again!

Thanks for spreading the good information on magnesium. I know for a fact it can help you in many ways.

Good luck!!

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charming post~~!! I'm on the same magnesium nut hunt right now too (for migraines), which is how I landed on your blog.
One correction tho - - peanuts are not nuts, they are actually legumes! Boxed cereals with your own nuts added are a great magnesium particular Shreddies, and Strawberry Bran Flakes.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Sfaith said...

Thanks Hugh, for this very entertaining post. (My dad's name was Hugh. Don't see it often anymore.)

And thanks Sergio for the insomnia info. I've been suffering from it lately and looking for a cheap, natural solution.

I just bought some Brazil nuts at the local farmer's market. Maybe they'll help.

3:26 AM  

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