While the main reason most of my patients come to see me is because they have lower back and/or leg pain and have heard that nonsurgical spinal decompression is often the treatment of choice for their complaints, whether it be due to a herniated disc or other spinal malady, often the discussion turns to nutrition and what role if any may it play in their recovery.
The importance of dietary magnesium and the role in plays in health and disease frequently comes up.
So what is magnesium anyway?
Approximately 99% of the total magnesium in the human body is located in our bones, muscles and soft tissues. This makes it very hard for us to measure the magnesium level in our bloodstream as only about 1% is extracellular, so taking plasma or serum magnesium levels is not going to be a very accurate measuring tool.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in more than 300 regulatory enzyme systems that control our muscles, nerves, bone, protein, DNA, glucose and energy metabolism. Now that’s pretty important, don’t you think?
Interestingly, magnesium deficiency gets implicated in a wide range of disorders such as heart arrhythmias, anxiety, kidney stones, high blood pressure, anxiety, diabetes, fatigue, seizures, leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, chest pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, weakness, and an array of other problems. Given that magnesium plays such a vital role throughout the body, it’s not surprising to find a deficiency of magnesium to be correlated with so many disorders.
How much is enough?
The average person should get at least 400 mg of magnesium a day, and fortunately there are a lot of foods that are excellent sources of magnesium. These include dark leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach; tree nuts and peanuts; seeds; oily fish; lentils, whole grains, beans and legumes; avocado, yogurt, bananas and dried fruit; dark chocolate and molasses just to name a few. Magnesium supplements are also available and many of our patients choose to supplement with magnesium to assure they are getting adequate intake.
I personally got interested in this a few years ago and in addition to my intake of magnesium rich foods I also supplement 400-800mg daily.
For those of you who are struggling with herniated disc or other spinal related issues, do make sure that your magnesium intake is on track as it will make a difference in your ability to heal.