Magnesium Deficiency and Work Stress

When you are stressed or worried, you deplete your magnesium stores. How do depleted magnesium stores feel? It feels like anxiety in the body. You feel anxious and then ask yourself, "What is wrong?" and you find a reason to be stressed! It's a vicious cycle. Worry and work stress, deplete magnesium, feel anxious, find a reason for feeling stressed, deplete more magnesium and so on.

Symptoms of poor magnesium intake can include muscle cramps, poor sleep, digestive disorders, stress, irritability and chronic pain (usually back pain).

So how can you know whether you’re getting enough magnesium?

According to population studies of average magnesium intake, there’s a good chance that you’re not.

Less than 30% of U.S. adults consume the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium. And nearly 20% get only half of the magnesium they need daily to remain healthy.

When you are stressed, you can become magnesium deficient even if you eat magnesium-rich foods regularly. The relationship between magnesium and work stress explains why many people require magnesium supplements, because even a conscientious diet does not correct the magnesium deficiency. Work stress creates a load on our magnesium reserves (therefore creating a deficiency). Then, even if we are at rest, our body feels anxious. This starts a loop effect where we worry or look for outside reasons for this feeling and deplete our magnesium stores even further.

Magnesium plays an important role in biochemical reactions all over your body. It is involved in a lot of cell transport activities, in addition to helping cells make energy aerobically or anaerobically. Your bones are a major reservoir for magnesium, and magnesium is the counter-ion for calcium and potassium in muscle cells, including the heart.

Magnesium was an old home remedy for all that ails you, including "anxiety, apathy, depression, headaches, irritability, constipation (remember "Milk of Magnesia" commercials?), restlessness, hyperactivity, and sulkiness." But we forgot about magnesium somewhere along the way in our cultural wellness efforts.

If you want proof of your magnesium deficiency, order a Magnesium RBC test through Request A Test for $49.00. Using your zip code they will send you to a nearby lab for a blood draw and you will have your results within 72 hours. Aim for an optimum dose of 6.0-6.5mg/dL even though the range of the test is 4.2-6.8. That's because this average is based on the sick population, 80% of whom are magnesium deficient.

In 1968, Wacker and Parisi reported that magnesium deficiency could cause depression, behavioral disturbances, headaches, muscle cramps, ataxia, psychosis, and irritability - all reversible with magnesium repletion.

Work stress is the 'bad guy' here, in addition to our woeful magnesium deficient diets. Stress causes us to waste our magnesium like crazy and we end up taking prescription medication to soothe the symptoms which create even MORE magnesium imbalance.

Magnesium Deposits and Work Stress

Several studies have also looked how stress levels affect magnesium. They found that during periods of stress, magnesium is used up by the body in exponential rates.

That means that not only is a significant portion of the population magnesium deficient---potentially leading to anxiety, rumination, worry, obsessive thinking and other stressful manifestations --–there is also be a high number of people that use up their magnesium reserves as a result of this anxiety, thus contributing to more anxiety and more stress. This creates a loop effect where stress and anxiety are experienced without an external factor of causation (i.e., I worry because I feel anxious, and I feel anxious because I worry).

Magnesium is not as readily available as most minerals; it’s deficient in the soil and most fertilizers don’t contain magnesium, so most foods are lacking. Also cooking and processing foods depletes magnesium. It’s found in whole grains, greens, nuts and seeds, but most people don’t eat much, if any, of those foods.

And yet, for some reason doctors think that we get all our nutrients in our very SAD, Standard American Diet and they don’t recognize the need for nutrient supplementation.

Studies prove up to 70 percent of people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can trigger or cause many health issues including the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Blood clots
  • Bowel disease (from constipation)
  • Cystitis/bladder issues
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension/high blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Kidney stones
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Fibromyalgia/chronic pain
  • Neck and back pain
  • Fibrositis
  • Nerve problems
  • PMS
  • Infertility
  • Preeclampsia
  • Osteoporosis

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"Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff -- whether it is a body part or an even a mood -- is a sign of magnesium deficiency."
~ Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D.

Everyone could benefit from extra magnesium is my conclusion today. The only problem I encountered is the laxative effect. If you are unable to absorb magnesium for whatever reason (alcohol, smoking, stress, poor diet, IBS, aging), then you will not get enough of this enzyme and you will be on the potty and still experience all of the symptoms listed above!

I've found one product that works that does not create a laxative effect. My back pain and anxiety are so much better after regular supplementation. And when I get a twinge in my lower back, I now view this as I need to put more magnesium in me!

Here is my favorite caplet form (slow release to ensure no diarrhea effect), plus free shipping if you enter FREESHIP into the shipping code section. I'm a bit obsessive about free shipping. I insist on getting free shipping whenever possible on the Internet!

Magnesium @ Jigsaw Health

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The only other magnesium I have found that does not create a laxative effect is a liquid sold by Dr. Carolyn Dean called ReMag. But it's VERY salty and I have a hard time taking the dose because of it (it's in a liquid form). It costs $29, has to be refrigerated, has a high shipping rate to ensure refrigeration standards, and only lasts about a month. So, the folks at Jigsaw are actually very competitive in price and content, as well as quality, for their magnesium formula.


One method of assessing your magnesium status is to contact your health care provider and request detailed magnesium testing. Yet magnesium assessment is typically done using blood serum testing, and these tests can be misleading. Only 1% of magnesium in the body is actually found in blood, and only .3% is found in blood serum, so clinical blood serum testing may not successfully identify magnesium deficiency.

What To Do?

Fortunately, it’s possible to get a sense of where your intake may lie simply by asking yourself a few questions about your lifestyle, and watching for certain signs and signals of low magnesium levels.

Learn how to read your signs below, and find out what you can do to ensure magnesium balance and good health. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may be at risk for low magnesium intake.

1. Do you drink carbonated beverages on a regular basis?

Most dark colored sodas contain phosphates. These substances actually bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, rendering it unavailable to the body. So even if you are eating a balanced diet, by drinking soda with your meals you are flushing magnesium out of your system.

The average consumption of carbonated beverages today is more than ten times what it was in 1940. This skyrocketing increase is responsible for both reduced magnesium and calcium availability in the body.

2. Do you regularly eat pastries, cakes, desserts, candies or other sweet foods?

Sugar and Magnesium Depletion

Refined sugar is not only a zero magnesium product but it also causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The process of producing refined sugar from sugar cane removes molasses, stripping the magnesium content entirely.

And sugar does not simply serve to reduce magnesium levels. Sweet foods are known by nutritionists as “anti-nutrients”. Anti-nutrients like sweets are foods that replace whole nutritious foods in the diet, yet actually consume nutrients when digested, resulting in a net loss. Because all foods require vitamins and minerals to be consumed in order to power the process of digestion, it’s important to choose foods that put back vital nutrients, and then some.

The more sweet foods and processed baked goods you have in your diet, the more likely you are deficient in magnesium and other vital nutrients.

3. Do you experience a lot of stress in your life, or have you recently had a major medical procedure such as surgery?

Both physical and emotional stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency.

Stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem. In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium.

Because stressful conditions require more magnesium use by the body, all such conditions may lead to deficiency, including both psychological and physical forms of stress such as surgery, burns, and chronic disease (i.e.,reoccurring pain such as back pain or migraine).

4. Do you drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks daily?

Coffee and Magnesium Loss

Magnesium levels are controlled in the body in large part by the kidneys, which filter and excrete excess magnesium and other minerals. But caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body status.

If you drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda regularly, your risk for magnesium deficiency is increased.

5. Do you take a diuretic, heart medication, asthma medication, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy?

The effects of certain drugs have been shown to reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through excretion by the kidneys.

6. Do you drink more than seven alcoholic beverages per week?

Alcohol and Magnesium Depletion

The effect of alcohol on magnesium levels is similar to the effect of diuretics: it lowers magnesium available to the cells by increasing the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. In studies, clinical magnesium deficiency was found in 80% of alcoholics.

Increased alcohol intake also contributes to decreased efficiency of the digestive system, as well as Vitamin D deficiency, both of which can contribute to low magnesium levels.

According to noted magnesium researcher Mildred Seelig:

"The body tends to retain calcium when in a magnesium-deficient state. Extra calcium intake at such a time could cause an abnormal rise of calcium levels inside the cells, including the cells of the heart and blood vessels… Given the delicate balance necessary between calcium and magnesium in the cells, it is best to be sure magnesium is adequate if you are taking calcium supplements.”

8. Do you experience any of the following:

Times of hyperactivity?
Difficulty getting to sleep?
Difficulty staying asleep?
Pain in the back or neck?
Moodiness, especially anger?

The above symptoms may be neurological signs of magnesium deficiency. Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and sometimes depression.

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If you want to try a magnesium supplement that will NOT give you diarrhea and have free shipping AND 10% off...You know that's what I do here: Find you free or at least CHEAP offerings to minimize your stress symptoms (if not eliminate them all together)....Then click below for easy access to this supplement:

Here's the link and coupon code for 10% off when you for the Jigsaw Health Slow Release Magnesium :

PUT 10percent in the COUPON CODE section when you checkout

Go to Jigsaw Health.Com for non-laxative magnesium tablets.

Still not sure it's magnesium you need?

Here's an article by Dr. Mark Hyman called "Magnesium: The Most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Available," with lots more information on magnesium deficiency.

Traditionally, foods highest in magnesium content are green vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts and beans, and seafood.
According to USDA food charts, the five foods with the highest magnesium per typical serving are:

Boiled spinach
Bran breakfast cereal

Foods with highest magnesium per milligram, regardless of typical intake, are:
Bran breakfast cereal
Pumpkin seeds

So either eat a TON of that ^^^^ Or you could supplement with slow-release caplets (needed because the other kind WILL give you diarrhea!!). I have found such a supplement at Jigsaw Health that is reasonably priced and eliminates the laxative effect:

Jigsaw Health - $10 Off

If you wish to get your magnesium stores up via diet alone, note that several factors can impair your ability to get magnesium from ONLY foods you eat, including:

~Lowered magnesium availability in foods due to industrial farming practices

~Dietary habits leading to low magnesium uptake, such as consumption of sodas and carbonated beverages

~Excess stress or illness, which lowers the ability of the body to utilize magnesium

~Mineral imbalances, such as excess calcium, which blocks cellular magnesium activity

~Metabolic differences in individuals, such as excess magnesium excretion by the kidneys, sometimes resulting in magnesium losses and deficiency.

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Go to Jigsaw Health.Com for non-laxative magnesium tablets.


World Health Organization. Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water: Public health significance. Geneva: World Health Organization Press; 2009.
Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.
Pao EM, Mickle SJ. Problem nutrients in the United States. Food Technology. 1981:35:58-79.
King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2005 Jun;24(3):166-71. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 6, 2009.
McCarthy J, Kumar R. Divalent Cation Metabolism: Magnesium. In: Schrier R, series editor. Atlas of Diseases of the Kidney. Volume 1. Wiley-Blackwell; 1999: 4.1-4.12.
Bernstein, L. Improving Magnesium Absorption and Bioavailability. Geriatric Times. 2002;3(1). Available at: Accessed February 10, 2010.
Magnesium Mineral. The Nutrition Notebook. 2004. Available at: Accessed January 21, 2010.
Bohn T. Dietary Factors Influencing Magnesium Absorption in Humans. Current Nutrition & Food Science. 2008;4:53-72.
Seelig M, Rosanoff A. The Magnesium Factor. New York: Avery; 2003.
Altura BM, Altura BT. Magnesium: Forgotten Mineral in Cardiovascular Biology and Therogenesis. In: International Magnesium Symposium. New Perspectives in Magnesium Research. London: Springer-Verlag; 2007:239-260.
Firoz M, Graber M. Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations. Magnesium Research. 2001; 14: 257-62.
American Dietetic Association. Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons; 2006.
Pressman A. Vitamins and Minerals. New York: Alpha Books; 2007.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs. In: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. 2005. Available at: Accessed January 28, 2010.
Cohen JS. The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches. New York: Square One Publishers; 2004.

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