Category Archives: serotonin

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)

As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:

  • Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs 
  • Essential for the production of energy
  • Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
  • Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
  • Essential for the activation of B vitamins
  • Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
  • Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
  • Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
  • Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
  • Essential for proper digestion
  • Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
  • Essential for normal kidney and liver function

Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.) 

It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)

Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.

If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.

I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:

  • Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
  • Use Magnesium Oil:  Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
  • Take Magnesium Glycinate:  Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.

References:

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Stop the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder NOW

You know it’s coming … that time of year when you just feel down, have no energy, and would be perfectly happy Seasonal Affective Disorderhibernating until spring. The winter blues aren’t just in your head, they are a true physical condition referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). SAD can affect anyone in cold climates, although senior citizens and children tend to have it less frequently.

Note: Depression is a serious condition. If you experience depression that interferes with your daily life, please seek professional help and do not try to treat yourself. Please discuss any new therapy or supplement with your practitioner before starting. Please also be aware that none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, research indicates that the lack of sunshine during the dark days of winter can cause:

  • Decreases in Vitamin D levels in the body: Low Vitamin D levels are known to contribute to depression and lack of energy
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  • Interference with circadian rhythms: Our body is designed to awaken when the sun goes up and to go to sleep when the sun goes down. The short days of winter interfere with these patterns, which appears to decrease the production of Serotonin, a “feel good” hormone.
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  • Reduced Melatonin levels: Decreased sunlight exposure seems to reduce the production of Melatonin in the brain. This can, in turn, lead to depression and sleep problems.
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  • Decreased physical activity: Most people aren’t as active in the winter as they are in the summer. Because exercise increases serotonin levels, a decrease in physical activity can negatively impact mood.

So how do you combat the effects caused by winter’s dark and gloomy days? Any of the following may help:

  • Use of a full-spectrum light bulb: Spending 10-20 minutes per day sitting in front a full-spectrum light bulb can help stimulate the body to produce Vitamin D and other chemicals essential to a good mood. Most health food stores sell full-spectrum light bulbs, or complete lamp sets and floor lamps can be purchased. I like the lamp set sold by Lights of America: http://amzn.to/ou0Q1a.
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  • Take a Vitamin D supplement: The typical recommended dosage of daily Vitamin D during the winter is 2000 IU/day, although levels of 5000-10,000 IU can usually be taken safely. I recommend asking your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels the next time you have blood work done. Although the test results will indicate that anything above 25 is “normal,” most people do not feel well unless their levels are between 50-75. (I give you permission to argue with your doctor on what the optimal levels are if s/he thinks a lower level is acceptable. The 50-75 level is associated with lower inflammation in the body and with lower cancer rates.) Also be aware that taking 2000 IU/day of Vitamin D is known to be MORE effective than a flu shot at preventing winter illnesses, so it’s a win-win! This is my favorite Vitamin D supplement: http://amzn.to/1auAwhF. For more information on Vitamin D, please read: 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
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  • Don’t be a hermit: It’s important to get out and have FUN during winter months. Although it may be tempting to become a homebody, getting out of the house to have fun is very important.
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  • Exercise: If you don’t like the word “exercise,” then engage in “fun sweaty activity” instead. As referenced above, exercising increases serotonin levels in the brain, which naturally makes you feel better and have a more positive outlook.

Again, please seek professional help if you experience a depression that interferes with your ability to cope or if you begin considering harming yourself.

My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

Does SAD affect you? Please share your story and what techniques work for you. We can beat this!