14 May 2013

Is your coffee and biscuits habit robbing you of Nature's wonder nutrient?

    Increased consumption of processed food is to blame for our magnesium deficiency, experts claim
    Increased consumption of processed food is to blame for our magnesium deficiency, experts claim
    Psychotherapist Susan Smith is ‘not keen on traditional medicine’, she says. So she decided to treat her sluggish gut with magnesium supplements. 
    Within a few weeks, says the 55-year-old from Bromley, Kent, she felt noticeably stronger and more energetic. Her eyes — and sinuses — are now clearer, and she goes to the loo regularly.
    Of course any persistent change in bowel habits should be investigated by a doctor. But for minor complaints, could this ‘alternative’ treatment really help?
    Magnesium is a ‘very good bowel cleanser’, says Professor Jon Shaffer, a gastroenterologist with a special interest in nutrition at Salford Royal hospital. As we digest magnesium, it attracts fluid to the intestine. This means stools can be passed more easily and relaxes the stomach muscles, which aids evacuation. 
    ‘Magnesium can be taken orally as a very effective laxative, and it’s far less harmful than anything over the counter, which tends to stretch the colon,’ says Professor Shaffer.
    Apart from helping with bowel health, magnesium is critical to a host of vital processes in the body. It helps keep heart rhythm steady, and is vital for healthy bones and teeth, muscle function, the nervous system and the production of energy. It also has an impact on psychological health.....

    ....The figures are even worse for young people, particularly young women. A staggering 51 per cent of girls aged 11 to 18 are thought to have an inadequate intake, compared with 28 per cent of boys. 
    Experts say our increased consumption of processed food, such as commercially-prepared cakes, is to blame for our magnesium deficiency, as these are low in magnesium-rich ingredients.
    Excess salt, coffee and alcohol can also lower our magnesium levels, according to a review of international research by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, because they make us need the loo more and so act as a magnesium ‘diuretic’. 
    City dwellers may be more likely to have low magnesium levels because tap water is treated with chlorine and fluoride, which deplete the magnesium in it.
    Deficiencies are also more common among women who have very heavy periods. 
    And our ever more hectic lives don’t help either, as stress, anxiety and depression are known to actively deplete magnesium. 
    Low magnesium is a particular worry for bone health. It helps our bodies absorb vitamin D (which we don’t get enough of anyway).

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