Mysterious Magnesium and Mindful Munching

By: Gemma Davies

By Gemma Davies, CEO Folkklore

Magnesium is one of the most critical nutrients for human health, required by every organ, tissue and cell in the body. Inadequate dietary magnesium frequently contributes to many of the following symptoms that many can relate to:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Apathy
  • Cardiac rhythm problems
  • Confusion
  • Depression and feelings of melancholy
  • Insomnia and sleep issues
  • Lethargy/low energy
  • Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss
  • Muscular weakness, pain and spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Personality changes
  • Poor attention spans
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Sensations of numbness, tingling and cramps
  • Vertigo 

Nutritional texts tell us that this mineral is abundantly available in whole foods, which should easily supply us with the 300-400mg we need daily.

And yet…

Magnesium deficiency is rife, even amongst the most pedantic of eaters... How can this be?

Braun and Cohen, in the natural therapist’s go-to manual, ‘Herbs & Natural Supplements: An Evidence Based Guide’, list the following foods as being the highest and most reliable magnesium sources:

  • Cacao
  • Cereals
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Soy flour (ew…!)
  • Wholegrains 

By all appearances, all these foods (except soy flour… ew…!) would appear to be wonderful additions, if not mainstay staples, of a nourishing diet, yes?

But there’s something that all these foods have in common, in abundance, that make it difficult for us to absorb the magnesium they contain. PHYTATES.

Plants principally use phytates (phytic acid) in order to store phosphorus and energy, which is great for them but not so great for the humans eating them! Phytates bind to several critical minerals, including magnesium, and render them unabsorbable in the human gut. Essentially, we could end up magnesium deficient by eating an abundance of magnesium-rich plant foods… What a paradox!

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the phytate content of magnesium rich foods and, once again, it all comes down to wise and mindful food preparation. Cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains can all be soaked (in acid mediums), lactofermented and sprouted for effective phytate removal. As for cacao – it’s certainly more than OK to indulge from time to time, but be wary of any suggestion that this food deserves staple-status in your wholefood diet. And what about soy flour? Avoid it like the plague...

Dark green leafy vegetables are also often suggested as good sources of magnesium, but they present us with another absorption problem: OXALATES. Oxalates (oxalic acid) also bind to magnesium and other minerals, preventing absorption. The best way to neutralize it in green vegetables is by thorough cooking. Long, slow sautéing and steaming are the best options, and your green vegetables are always best served with a hearty dollop of butter or cream. These fatty additions not only lend deliciousness, but their fat soluble vitamin content will help you to absorb and utilize the minerals in your greens.

Dairy foods are another oft-suggested source of magnesium, but it appears that pastuerisation breaks down the calcium-magnesium-carbono-phosphate complex into insoluble (ie. useless…) mineral salts. It’s certainly worth exploring sources for ‘real’ milk, cream, cheese and yoghurt in your area, particularly if you hope to absorb any minerals from your dairy foods!

Finally, it’s interesting to consider that water really oughtta be a decent source of magnesium for humans but we certainly can’t rely on municipal water supply to meet our needs! Sourcing high quality spring water or installing a reverse osmosis water filter with a remineralising cartridge can make all the difference!

And so it seems that the ‘mystery’ of rampant magnesium depletion is solved – our moves away from traditional food preparation in lieu of quick convenience has failed us yet again! Embracing slow, wise ways in the kitchen will do your magnesium stores a huge favour, and you’ll feel all the better for it too!

Because most of us are magnesium deficient, building up stores of this essential mineral are critical as a first step. Whilst focusing on ample well-prepared food sources of magnesium, we can also apply magnesium topically in order to speed up the process of replenishment. Ancient Minerals transdermal magnesium products are designed to facilitate fast absorption of magnesium via the skin, and are available in oil and lotion formulations. This method of delivery bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and rapidly delivers easily assimilated magnesium to the cells via the skin. A simple and relaxing way to enjoy the many benefits of magnesium therapy!

About Folklore

Folkklore is the mischievous and unruly brainchild of Gemma Dee. Inclusive, evolving, eclectic and entertaining, Folkklore examines and explores ancient wisdoms, practical no-brainers and new-wave notions that can expand and accelerate your experience of being a mere human in full flourish.

Tend to your roots. Be radical.

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