In my first blog about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, I explained that it is unusual for Nutritional Therapists to recommend a single nutrient supplement, but that Vitamin D could be the exception. Why? Over many years, science has shown how insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to health concerns on virtually every level and many have responded by boosting levels with supplementation or quality time in the sun. But here is another nutrient which has a similarly wide-reaching effect in the body, which is also largely deficient in the population and could benefit from supplementation. Magnesium! Every known illness is associated with magnesium deficiency. Like vitamin D, magnesium supports seemingly endless functions and bodily systems. It is a macro-mineral, the fourth most abundant in the body and a co-factor (a molecule that assists in chemical processes in the body) for the proper functioning of 325 enzymes. Ongoing magnesium deficiency has been linked to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps and twitches, headaches and migraines, constipation, insomnia, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, premenstrual syndrome, personality changes, anxiety, fatigue and weakness, fibromyalgia, vertigo, and seizures…. and that’s just for a start! But why such widespread lack? Historically humans met their needs for magnesium through clean spring, river or lake mineral rich water and ate food grown in mineral rich soil. Magnesium is much more plentiful in the diet than vitamin D, provided you are including magnesium rich foods. Even so, mineral depleted soil produces a much lower mineral content in natural foods as compared to the beginning of the last century. Other modern day factors also contribute to its depletion in the body such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and sugar. In this context, deficiency is easier to fathom! Like vitamin D, having sufficient levels of magnesium could stack the potential for many more health benefits in your favour. If you are interested in knowing more about magnesium, the best dietary and other sources, and the best type of magnesium to supplement with, then read on! Q. Prefer to watch a video? I have posted a link at the end of the blog.
As part of my Nutritional Therapy course I had to complete a scientific review of current research on the impact a single nutrient might have on a specific disease. I chose Vitamin D and Osteoporosis [OP]. I wanted to answer the question ‘does current research show that adequate levels of Vitamin D have a positive impact on OP’? Turns out that it does! Not surprising I hear you say! Most of us already know from TV commercials that Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and to absorb calcium. But how much is adequate? I discovered there are many and widely differing opinions on this and just when I thought I had this bit figured out, I learned that no vitamin works in isolation in the body anyway. Plus, there are so many factors other than nutrients involved in disease progression. I found out Vitamin D is not even a vitamin really! It was designated a ‘vitamin’ based on its role as a dietary factor that aided in the cure of rickets. It is now understood to be more ‘hormone like’ in its action. Did you know, it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through diet alone? Vitamin D is not even required in the diet if there is sufficient sunlight to allow its production from pro-Vitamin D molecules in the skin. It is made in the body with its own Vitamin D receptors [VDRs]. For this reason it could be classified as a hormone rather than a vitamin (a vital amine). Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic across all ages, genders and geographic locations with multiple implications on human health, due to its role in various bodily systems. Even if you can avail of adequate year round sun-exposure on bare skin, the time of day, the colour of your skin and your age will also influence how much Vitamin D your body can produce. A Nutritional Therapist seldom recommends a single vitamin but Vitamin D could be the exception to that rule. Deficiency has an impact on so many body systems yet symptoms of deficiency are not very obvious. The only way to really know if you are deficient is to take a 25(OH)D blood test. Are you getting enough of the ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin? Let me help you figure it out!