I was in fourth grade when I was captured by a twitch in a small muscle in my lower left abdomen. It consumed my active mind and made it difficult to focus on anything else. My belly twitch stopped after a few hours, but later that week, my eyelid twitched. These twitches, medically known as benign fasciculation syndrome, happened every day of my life. Not a day would go by without some muscle on my body twitching. I had difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying focused while at school, and was easily irritated. I struggled in high school. I struggled while serving in the U.S. military as a Marine. I struggled while earning my B.A. Degree. I struggled as an employee, as a business owner, as a husband, and as a dad. And then, I solved the mystery. And I no longer struggle.
As an adult, I decided to take stock of my health. My major complaints were that my nervous system was wacky, and that I was developing a skin rash on my back. I spent a year consulting both western and alternative doctors, all of whom said that I was very healthy and gave me a variety of topical treatments for my skin. Two years passed and my nervous system and skin were still not healthy and I was beginning to believe, that from this point on, my skin and nervous system would always be…diseased.
My quest for a harmonious body lead me to a doctor, whose talents focused on alternative treatments to common ailments. After yet another consultation, he told me that I’m healthy, deficient in magnesium, and suggested a variety of ways to fix my magnesium problem. After describing my vitamin and mineral supplementation regimen, he explained how difficult it is for your body to absorb magnesium.
This is where a light came on in my desperate and worried mind and I finally asked the right question, “What is the best way to absorb Magnesium?”
I was led to believe that taking magnesium pills was the only, and best way to supplement my deficiency. How wrong I was! Out of the three methods of delivery, Intravenously (through veins), transdermal (through skin), and orally (through mouth), the method I was using was the least effective. When taken orally, the magnesium must make it’s way into the large intestine where 44% your body’s magnesium is absorbed. Another 5% is absorbed in your small intestine; the other 55% is excreted from the body. That means that I absorb less than half of the magnesium I consume through the foods I eat and the supplements I took. And that 44% depended on the health of my gut, and the level of available magnesium found in my food and supplements.
Armed with this new thought, I rushed home, jumped on the Internet and Googled: “The best way to absorb magnesium.” After a few days of combing through countless blogs, medical journals, health websites and so on, what I found was shocking. I discovered why my magnesium deficiency began as a child and continued through adulthood.
There are 3 factors that I focused on:
1. Factors that reduce magnesium in our daily food.
First and foremost, I discovered that the introduction of chemical agriculture has lead to a decline in the amount of magnesium normally found in our foods. Many of the toxic chemicals used in conventional farming deplete the soil of magnesium. Therefore, the green leafy vegetables known for their magnesium content, were deprived from the declining soil health. Here is an excerpt from an article that I found shocking:
“An extensive 2012 field study entitled 2012 Nutritional Analysis: A Comparison of GMO Corn Versus Non-GMO Corn, reveals just how stunning the difference is. The field test results were made public by De Dell Seeds, a Canadian non-GMO seed company, which obtained it from the Minnesota agricultural company ProfitPro.
A few examples from the study demonstrate how the deficiencies of minerals essential for health in GMO corn are the exact deficiencies in human beings that lead to susceptibility to sickness, mental and other disorders, and cancer:
- GMO corn contains only 2 ppm magnesium vs. non GMO corn which has 113 ppm magnesium-56 times as much.
- GMO corn contains only 14 ppm (parts per million) calcium vs. non GMO corn which contains 6130 ppm calcium-437 times as much.
- GMO corn contains only 2 ppm of manganese vs. non GMO corn which contains 14 ppm manganese-7 times as much.”
Magnesium deficient veggies led to a magnesium deficient body. At a time when my body was growing, it had already entered into a state of magnesium deficiency.
2. Factors that reduce or prohibit absorption of magnesium in the body.
Secondly, once I became old enough to understand how supplements work, I started taking calcium, magnesium, and zinc supplements. I was lead to believe, that when taken together, I’d receive the best absorption rate. Unknowingly, my food choices were reducing my absorption rates.
Mark Hyman, M.D., practicing physician and founder of The UltraWellness Center stated in an article for the Huffington Post that, “Magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, prolonged or intense stress, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites.”
This was a huge revelation for me!
3. Factors that induce excretion of magnesium from the body.
Lastly, as I child, I was addicted to sugar. I would devour candy and sugar-based drinks with abandon. Sugar was in just about every meal and snack I consumed.
According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, “The body requires at least twenty-eight molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single molecule of glucose. Phosphates in carbonated drinks and processed meats (so-called “luncheon meats” and hot dogs) bind with magnesium to create the insoluble magnesium phosphate, which is unusable by the body.”
During my college years, candy was replaced by beer, wine and coffee and a processed food diet. This meant, that despite the magnesium supplements I was taking, my food and beverage choices were continually zapping magnesium from my body.
After much research, I discovered that many of the foods, which would normally be rich in magnesium, were deficient. I discovered that many of the foods that I consumed regularly either prohibited absorption, or caused it to be excreted. I also discovered that taking oral supplements were the least effective at replenishing magnesium stores in the body.
So, after learning more about my magnesium mystery, these are the steps I have taken to help restore my body back to health:
- I have modified my diet so that I consume foods that either replace magnesium or assist in its absorption.
- I have introduced transdermal magnesium applications to include taking Epsom salt baths twice a week, and spraying magnesium oil on my body every day.
- I have incorporated two high-quality supplements: I drink Natural Calm on a regular basis and take a high-grade magnesium supplement from Dr. Mercola daily.
- In order to reduce stress, which is a constant bandit of the body’s vital nutrients, I practice yoga, ride my mountain bike and walk my dogs.
- I’ve also eliminated sugar from my diet, removed alcohol and coffee and consume only organic foods and beverages.
- I grow my own organic garden and help my daughter’s Waldorf School with their organic garden, which has helped me study soil health.
The best part is I share a happier, healthier, and balanced version of myself with my family. Last but not least, guess who doesn’t have twitches for the first time since being my daughter’s age? Me. Mystery solved.
[Editor's Note: We are big fans of adding a magnesium supplement to your diet, and love the great-tasting Natural Calm from our partners at Natural Vitality.]