Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Not Getting Enough Magnesium


I'd bet money that most people have at least heard of magnesium.  I definitely had before I started supplementing with it last year.  But what I didn't know, was how much I needed it.

Magnesium is responsible for over 300 metabolic reactions in the human body.  Yes, 300!!  Some of those include: muscle function, proper heart rhythm, normal blood pressure, hormone regulation, and it can even help with insulin resistance.  And as many as 80 percent of Americans are deficient.  Crazy right?

I had never thought to supplement with magnesium until I started working with my integrative practitioner last year.  And it didn't take long until I was spouting the benefits of it to everyone I knew.

So how do you know if you need it?

There are actually a TON of symptoms (just type magnesium deficiency into google to find them all).

But here are a few:

-facial ticks
-impaired memory and cognitive function
-irregular heartbeat
-loss of appetite

And like everything else in life, they are also symptoms of at least ten other things as well.

So I'm going to tell you my Top 5 things magnesium has helped me with.

1.  Sleep. 

I'm not a good sleeper.  Actually, once I'm asleep, I sleep like the dead, it's the falling asleep that I don't do too well with.  Well it turns out Magnesium is actually a natural sleep aid.  And for me, it is really effective.  About 1-2 hours after I take it, I just get all relaxed and ready to sleep.  And not just relaxed, I get really drowsy. 

2.  Muscle Tension - particularly in the upper back and shoulders

Ever since I was a teenager I have had a tight neck and shoulders.  And without fail, at least 2 times a year, I have to go see my "back guy".  He's actually this amazing massage therapist who does therapeutic work on me because I have so much tension in my back and neck.  I started noticing about 3 years ago that it was getting worse than usual and where before, I would only have to go in for 2 appointments, I was starting to need 3 or more.  Fast forward to last year.  I started supplementing with magnesium and I did feel relief.  It wasn't an overnight miracle or anything but my back, neck, and shoulder muscles absolutely started relaxing more.  I had less headaches and less back pain.  My therapist even commented on how he has been seeing me less! 

3.  PMS and Hormonal Imbalances

I've relegated you all with tales of my hormonal imbalances.  Well as it turns out magnesium helps those out too.  Magnesium is actually involved in the manufacturing of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone so as you can imagine it's pretty important in helping to keep those balanced.  Ever crave chocolate during PMS?  It might be because 1 square of 70-80% Dark Chocolate has about 24% of your daily value for magnesium.  Supplementing magnesium can help relieve PMS symptoms like headaches, bloating, fluid retention, and sugar cravings.  So yes, definitely eat your chocolate.  Dare I say you actually NEED it?  As for me.  In April of 2014, I had my hormones tested and I had an excess of estrogen and almost no progesterone OR testosterone.  After a careful protocol to get those improved which INCLUDED magnesium supplementation, as of July 2015, my numbers are now normal.  Or as my practitioner exclaimed "your numbers no longer look like that of a menopausal woman!!".  Which is awesome cause I'm only 37. 

4.  Insulin Resistance

I have trouble with blood sugar regulation and the dreaded insulin resistance.  And some studies have shown that low magnesium levels have been found in those with high insulin.  I don't have some crazy tale how magnesium has completely cured me or anything, BUT it is part of my get better protocol and so far I've only seen improvements. 

and finally ..

5.  Constipation

I've never been very regular in this area.  Like never ever.  But constipation is another sign of low magnesium.  It's also a sign of hypothyroidism which I also have. So as you can imagine, I was probably a prime candidate for supplementing with magnesium.  And for me, it did help things.  And you probably already knew magnesium was good for constipation because that's exactly what the constipation relief drug Milk of Magnesia is.  Again, magnesium is the relaxation mineral.  So you know, it relaxes!

So there you have it.  It's definitely something to consider if you're dealing with any of the magnesium deficiency symptoms.

I take Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate.  And I personally take between 360 - 480mg nightly.  And when I was starting out I was taking as much as 600mg nightly.

For more info on magnesium and supplementing, check out Dr. Hyman's post here.

Blood Sugar Solution Update

This update is long overdue but I've been on vacation and you know how that can just turn your life upside down.

Before I get to the update, let me recap my whole blood sugar situation.  I had followed the Blood Sugar Solution to the letter (food wise) from mid-March to the end of May.  That's when my blood sugar dropped the most (19 points) and I also dropped around 13 pounds. 

Starting in June, I slowly transitioned into one of the suggested strategies outlined at the end of Dr. Hyman's book.  I continued to eliminate gluten, dairy and refined sugar.  I was, however, mostly grain free.  Meaning 70-80% of the meals I had were grain free.  I did allow myself honey, maple syrup, and stevia which I usually used in cooking.  

I cooked easily 90% of everything I ate.  If I went out to eat it was either Hugo's (they list all of their ingredients on their website) or sushi (pretty easy to maneuver).  And on special occasions, I would also order from this local Thai place around the corner from my apartment.  My fiance (who's half-Thai by the way) went to talk to them about some of their ingredients and it turns out, one of my favorite dishes passed the gluten challenge (yellow curry).  I tried not to eat this too frequently because I'm well aware of how Thai food and sugar go hand in hand.  

I also started weight training (Drop 2 Sizes) June 1st.
So at the end of July I had a follow up appointment with my doctor.  My blood sugar had only dropped one more point.  My doctor was happy with that but I had hoped for lower because it still was at high normal.  I also hadn't dropped any more weight. 

We surmised that perhaps my weight training offset any changes in scale weight due to muscle gain because while I hadn't lost any weight I HAD lost one jeans size.  She had me keep my diet the same and we instead focused on some things to help my hormones a little more.

From July to mid-September, I continued to eat 100% gluten and dairy free, and I was eating around 60-70% grain free.  And I stayed away from the refined sugar.

As you can see, I started really strict and with time loosened the reigns.  It's really hard to maintain that level of discipline for an extended period of time because it is VERY restrictive.  And while I wasn't in that crazy restrictive mode, I was doing pretty great by comparison. 

 I had another appointment with my doctor last week.  We went over the usual but I still haven't lost any weight since May.  She wasn't happy about that either.  So we discussed the last 6 months to see what we could come up with.

I log my food everyday using Loseit and they have this great tool where you can see 30 day averages of your calories and macros.  So I looked at my calories and carbs from March to April and from April to May.  Then I compared each subsequent 30 days.  What I found was that while my calories were consistent across the board, my carbs were not.  In those first 2 months I was averaging around 85 grams of carbs per day.  And then after May, it starting creeping up.  In June it was up to 100 grams, then 125 grams, then 150+ grams. 

So she suggested I go down to 80 net carbs (total carbs minus fiber count).  The nurse drew my blood to check my insulin, blood sugar, and thyroid levels.  She also put in a test to check for something called a MTHFR mutation.  It may or may not be inhibiting my weight loss and I may or may not have it.  So, if I end up having it I'll let you know.

So as of right now, I'm really trying to focus on keeping within that carb count to see if maybe that's the magic spot for me.  It's low but not crazy low - completely doable in my opinion.  Yesterday was my first day and I hit it easily.  I'm also still gluten and dairy free.  And it looks like I ended up completely grain free too.  That's something that's also pretty easy when the carb count is that low.  I don't like to "waste" my carbs on grains. 

Yesterday's Menu:

B:  almond flour pancakes with sliced strawberries and bacon
L:  stuffed poblano peppers with chicken and salsa
D:  lettuce wrapped sliders with sweet potatoes fries and watermelon


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30 Days to ... by JH is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.