Kerry Fleckenstein, Therapeutic Lifestyle Recovery Coach
8:33 am

Are you getting enough magnesium?

magnesium-rda-intake
Symptoms of poor magnesium intake can include muscle cramps, facial tics, poor sleep, and chronic pain. It pays to ensure that you get adequate magnesium before signs of deficiency occur.

But how can you know whether you’re getting enough?

According to population studies of average magnesium intake, there’s a good chance that you’re not.

The following may be a good way to assess your intake of magnesium by answering a few questions your lifestyle, and watching for certain signs and signals of low magnesium levels.

1. Do you drink carbonated beverages on a regular basis?

Most dark colored sodas contain phosphates. These substances actually bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, rendering it unavailable to the body. So even if you are eating a balanced diet, by drinking soda with your meals you are flushing magnesium out of your system.

The average consumption of carbonated beverages today is more than ten times what it was in 1940.

2. Are you regularly eating pastries, cakes, desserts, candies or other sweet foods?

Refined sugar is not only a zero magnesium product but it also causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The process of producing refined sugar from sugar cane removes molasses, stripping the magnesium content entirely.

And sugar does not simply serve to reduce magnesium levels. Sweet foods are known by nutritionists as “anti-nutrients”. Anti-nutrients like sweets are foods that replace whole nutritious foods in the diet, yet actually consume nutrients when digested, resulting in a net loss. Because all foods require vitamins and minerals to be consumed in order to power the process of digestion, it’s important to choose foods that “put back” vital nutrients, and then some.

The more sweet foods and processed baked goods you have in your diet, the more likely you are deficient in magnesium and other vital nutrients.

3. Do you experience a lot of stress in your life, or have you recently had a major medical procedure such as surgery?

Both physical and emotional stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency.

Stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem. In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium.

Because stressful conditions require more magnesium use by the body, all such conditions may lead to deficiency, including both psychological and physical forms of stress such as surgery, burns, and chronic disease.

4. Do you drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks daily?

Magnesium levels are controlled in the body in large part by the kidneys, which filter and excrete excess magnesium and other minerals. But caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body status.

If you drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda regularly, your risk for magnesium deficiency is increased.

5. Do you take a diuretic, heart medication, asthma medication, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy?

The effects of certain drugs have been shown to reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through excretion by the kidneys.

6. Do you drink more than seven alcoholic beverages per week?

The effect of alcohol on magnesium levels is similar to the effect of diuretics: it lowers magnesium available to the cells by increasing the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. In studies, clinical magnesium deficiency was found in 30% of alcoholics.

7. Do you take calcium supplements without magnesium?

Too much calcium supplementation without magnesium may reduce magnesium absorption and retention from foods. However if you are taking magnesium, magnesium supplementation actually improves the body’s use of calcium.

Though many reports suggest taking calcium to magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, this figure is largely arbitrary.  Studies are now supporting a 1:1 ration.

8. Do you experience any of the following:

  • Anxiety?
  • Times of hyperactivity?
  • Difficulty getting to sleep?
  • Difficulty staying asleep?

The above symptoms may be neurological signs of magnesium deficiency. Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and sometimes depression.

Kerry Fleckenstein, Therapeutic Lifestyle Recovery Coach
10:34 am

Natural Herbs for Allergy Relief

yellow wildflowers
50% of Americans suffer from allergies, so you're not alone if you've been sneezing, coughing or wiping your watery eyes.   There is no cure-all for springtime allergies, however there are remedies.  If your preference is to avoid prescription drugs, or in addition to, you may  want to consider natural supplements to combat the season. There are many natural supplements that you can take to help ease allergy symptoms. Here is a list of some  well-reviewed supplements for allergy support. Just like OTC and prescription treatments, health supplements can cause side effects or can react with medications you’re taking so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start taking any natural health herbs.

  • Astragalus – A traditional Chinese remedy for allergies, buy astragalus to support the immune system.
  • Evening Primrose – This oil works two ways to suppress allergies. First, allergic reactions cause inflammations and evening primrose oil acts as an anti-inflammatory to decrease the reaction. Secondly, it stimulates the white blood cells that regulate the production of histamines and antibodies.
  • Gamma Linolenic Acid – GLA has a long history in folk medicine for treating allergies. People who have allergies may require additional essential fatty acids and have trouble converting LA (Linoleic acid) to GLA. Studies have found that women and children who are prone to allergies have lower levels of GLA.
  • Green Tea – Drink a cup of tea. It delivers EGCG, an antioxidant that blocks production of histamine and immunoglobulin E, both of which trigger allergy symptoms.  
  • Probiotics – Increasing beneficial bacteria may prevent allergies. Probiotics benefit the immune system and could, therefore, reduce allergies.
  • Omega-3s – Scientific studies have shown fish oil can help alleviate hay fever, sinus problems and allergic skin conditions.
  • Quercetin – This flavonoid, found naturally in onions, apples, and black tea, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to block histamines or reduce the release of histamine, which decreases symptoms.
  • Skullcap – This herb has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat hayfever. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic properties.
  • Spriulina – Studies suggest this blue-green algae can boost the immune system and protect against allergic reactions.
  • Stinging Nettle – The roots and leaves of the stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica) have been used to treat everything from joint pain to prostate problems. Some people use freeze-dried stinging nettle leaves to treat allergy symptoms.
  • Vitamin C – This well-known immune-boosting antioxidant lowers histamine levels in the bloodstream, which could prevent the onset of allergies. 2,000 mg of vitamin C can cut histamine levels (which trigger allergy symptoms) by up to 40%, improving breathing and your airway.