The Power of Magnesium

the-magnesium-factorAnyone that knows me knows that I’m a magnesium fanatic and I confess that it’s true. It all started when hurricane Ivan hit our tiny island Grand Cayman of the Cayman Islands and annihilated it. Just taking a guess, but I would say that over half the homes and businesses lost everything, which included me. So, because of my loss, sleeping in the attic of a commercial building with no electrical power and no bed to sleep on for over 3 months gave birth to a slight sciatica problem. This is not a good problem to have when you’re a personal fitness trainer constantly lifting weights every day to give and take from clients. Over the years the problem got much worse. One day in the book store looking for a new book to add to my library, the owner who knew me well said Phil, you have to check out this book. After glancing at it, I had to buy it and implement this new information that hopefully would help me.

To my amazement, after about 3 weeks the constant pain and fatigue feeling in the leg started to diminish. I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I didn’t pay much attention to it. As another few weeks passed, I was astonished that the pain was 100% gone. Was this just a coincidence or did it really fix my problem? Did you catch that statement, I said fix. Often when we have problems, what we do or take for it does not fix it, it just temporarily relieves it. The answer is without a doubt, it fixed it.

Now don’t take me wrong, I am not saying that magnesium will fix everyone’s back or other areas problems. But what I can tell you is that many of the back problems or better said, problems people have come from a lack of magnesium. The vastness of all that magnesium can do for you is far beyond this one article. So, I will post several articles consecutively covering a broader amount of all it does for you and how it works in your body.

Mildred S. Seelig, M.D.., MPH, author of The Magnesium Factor is one of the world’s most renown researchers who invested over thirty-five years studying the roles of magnesium in health and disease. For those interested this is where I got my information from. Dr. Seelig went on to state that conventional medical wisdom has taught us that magnesium deficiency is very rare and is only found in those with severe malnutrition, alcoholism and other specific disease states. Conventional wisdom also teaches that the average diet is adequate in vitamins and minerals and that it’s the mix of macronutrients–fats, proteins, and carbohydrates–that needs adjustment. She goes on to say that these and other information is taught to most medical and nutrition schools, so relatively few doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians expect or believe that our diets are low in magnesium. Dr. Seelig stated that what people in general think is malnutrition (which literally means “bad nutrition”) see it as starvation or undernutrition. But a more common form of bad nutrition in certain countries is overnutrition. Heart disease is caused by overnutrition of some nutrients and undernutrition of others, especially magnesium.

Please bear with me. This article is somewhat lengthy but it’s the only way you will understand how this all works in order to change your mind on how you see things as it really is, and not as we’ve been taught. It’s hard to break old habits without knowing the “why” answer to this so called new way of thinking.

There are two main minerals which are involved in our muscles contracting and relaxing, calcium and magnesium. Higher than normal amounts of calcium trigger and over excitement or hyperactive state in the muscles. The heart and blood vessels need to react quickly to sudden stress situations. So, because of this, they are vulnerable to deficits in magnesium that allow abnormal increases in calcium, with resulting hyperactivity.

Sometimes, a hyperactive state is just what your body needs. It’s what is called the body’s fight-or-flight reaction to danger. An example would be when the body is in danger, the body needs the muscles to react quickly and strongly so that one can fight or flee the situation. When experiencing a situation as this, the cells need calcium to rush inside to get things excited along with a few other substances to make the muscles contract. Without calcium the muscles would not be able to contract, and without muscle contraction there would be no fight or flight.

In normal circumstances your body does not want excessive muscle contractions. If it did, the muscles would soon cramp and bring on severe muscle pain. To relax the muscles, the muscles require magnesium. Physiologically, magnesium does the opposite of calcium and relaxes muscles. Normally inside the cell magnesium levels are high and calcium is low so that your muscle can relax.

So how does this relate to many of our muscle aches and back pain. Simply put, muscles when contracting all the time bring on muscle aches. A similar example would be when someone working at a desk gets pain in their neck or traps (muscle between the neck and shoulders which also travels down the center of our back) from their arms being raised in front of them for hours when using a computer. Well, if we lack magnesium and there is an overabundance of calcium in the muscles causing hyperactivity, you get the same effect. But, this hyper effect is not isolated to just the upper back like the computer position would be, it effects all muscles of the body which also includes the heart.

Constant flexion such as this can impinge nerves and cause pain in our body such as the common sciatica pain experienced by many. We are often given treatment for this which is good and usually incorporates stretching exercises to relax the muscles such as sciatica stretches, but often after several days the pain returns. But, did you catch the key word there? It’s “relax”. The sciatica stretches relaxed the muscles and within minutes you feel anywhere from 100% relief to some relief. It was the relaxation of the muscles that gave you the relief. Unfortunately, if the lack of magnesium was the problem or contributing to the problem, the problem will return because we didn’t give the body what it was missing, magnesium. So, make sure you’re getting magnesium daily.

If you’re still reading this that’s great, and I hope all that was revealed to you made sense on why it’s important to get enough magnesium. Some people believe in supplements and some don’t. Supplements are what I call the insurance policy. If you supplement you can be sure you’re getting enough daily. We don’t eat the same foods every day so our macronutrients will vary daily. One day you might get enough vitamin C and the next day you eat differently and you might lack vitamin C. So supplementing it insures that you’ll get what your body requires daily.

Hopefully everyone got something good out of this. I think you also now realize why I have to post several articles on magnesium because it has so many benefits and I’m just getting started. So, knowing this, please keep an eye open for my follow-up articles on the many other benefits of magnesium. And, if you want to check out the book just click here to learn more about it.

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