By Elizabeth Szlek: Wellness Counselor:
I’m guessing that many people give little thought to whether they are getting all the minerals their bodies need, but I can tell you that not getting them is a serious problem. Here are what Nutritional Therapy Practitioners call “Big Ideas” about mineral.
1. Minerals compose about 4% of our body.
2. Humans do not produce minerals, so we MUST obtain them from our food.
3. Minerals are what remain as ash when plant or animal tissues are burned. Think, “Ashes to ashes”.
4. Out of the 103 known minerals, at least 18 are ESSENTIAL for good health.
This leads to the next thought: There are macro-minerals and micro-minerals. As you might suspect, we need a lot more of the micro-mineral for proper functioning, and magnesium, along with calcium, phosphorus, Sulphur, sodium, chloride and potassium are the macro-minerals.
The job of minerals in the body is to act a co-factors for enzyme reactions, of which there are thousands occurring every minute in our bodies. Minerals maintain the pH balance in the body, that is, whether it is acid or alkaline. They maintain proper nerve conduction, contract and relax muscles, regulate tissue growth and provide structural and functional support. You can see from this list how very important it is to make sure we supply our bodies with the proper amount of minerals!
The sad truth is, many in our culture are quite deficient in magnesium, even though many foods contain good amounts of magnesium. This deficiency is likely due to the ingestion of the major toxin dominating our diets: Sugar! If you were to go out into a sugar cane field and chop down a sugar cane and chew on it, which is what many sugar cane workers do, you would be getting lots of magnesium along with the sugar. Unfortunately, when sugar is refined, most or all of the magnesium is removed, along with all the fibrous content.
Eat a candy bar and whoosh, your blood sugar will reach for the stars! No magnesium is around to process it. Here is a little-known fact: Every molecule of sugar needs 56 molecules of magnesium to process it. Without this mineral present, the sugar becomes a toxin to the body, and too much of it in the bloodstream leads to many adverse conditions, one of which is depression.
You may be reading lots of “news” stories about how so many teens are depressed and suicidal. Do what I do: Ask the question, “Are these kids drinking sodas, and eating lots of sugar?” It’s more than likely this is the case. And remember, that flour is a starch, and refined flour acts like sugar in the body. So a lunch of pizza and soda would deplete the body of magnesium, and further deepen any depression.
But that’s just one negative affect of too little magnesium. Muscle cramps, insomnia, food cravings, PMS, fatigue, alcoholism, anxiety, hyperactivity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, kidney stones, autism, osteoporosis and many other conditions are helped by the addition of supplemental or dietary magnesium.
Many foods are good sources of magnesium, like seeds, spinach, almonds, bananas, oatmeal, avocadoes, quinoa, peanut butter, okra, chives, dill, Brazil nuts, and cacao. But, if there is too much sugar in the diet, and the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are present, it is imperative to take supplements to get up to proper functioning. 400 mg per day is the minimum for an adult. Most people get enough calcium in their diets to avoid the rare instance of magnesium overload, but be aware that these two minerals must BOTH be present in the diet at proper levels. Again, too much refined sugar could sabotage attempts to bring magnesium levels up.
We need lots of magnesium to function properly! Eat the foods mentioned above, and if you have any concerns about your levels, it is easy to find supplements in the 400 mg. range to take daily. And turn down the sugar overload!!
Elizabeth Szlek is the Director of The Door Counseling Center of Yorkville, NY. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and a certified GAPS Practitioner. She can be reached at (315) 768-8900.