Two years ago I thought I was having a heart attack and sent myself to the emergency room. I’ll never forget sitting at work wrapping up my day and, all of a sudden, started to have intense shooting pains in my chest that were so painful I let out a gasp and started sobbing. The pain persisted off and on for a few (very intense) minutes and then eventually stopped, but my left arm started to go numb and I knew something wasn’t right. Against the advice of my very worried coworkers, I drove the 30 minutes home right away and then walked myself to the Emergency Room as soon as I parked the car (I live 2 blocks from a hospital). I’d experienced sharp pains here and there over the course of the months leading up to that day that made me a little concerned, but nothing was nearly as intense as this particular day.
After some tests and scans that came back with perfectly normal results, I left the hospital feeling both relieved and also incredibly unsettled at the same time, and the next morning made an appointment to see Dr. Nguyen, my amazing naturopathic doctor (if you live in DC I highly recommend her and am happy to send you her information). If you read my story about why I refuse to wear antiperspirant last month, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I prefer to turn to holistic MD’s for anything medical (unless it’s an emergency) and so she was the first person I called after leaving the hospital.
Long story short, Dr. Nguyen ran a series of blood tests that week after I told her about my severe chest pain, and she concluded that I was extremely deficient in magnesium, a mineral that is vital to over 300 reactions in the human body, particularly muscle and nerve function. She explained that because my heart is a muscle, and because muscles need magnesium to work efficiently, the pain I was experiencing was my body’s way of crying out for help. I started taking magnesium citrate powder on a regular basis (granted, much higher dosage than is needed for the average person to get my levels up), and I can honestly say it has changed my life in more ways than one.
I realize that I am am not a doctor, but studies show that over 60% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and so I wanted to lay out some of the general symptoms of deficiency in case you experience any of them yourself and want to give magnesium supplementation a try:
Common Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
irritability and anxiety
impaired memory and cognitive function
muscle spasms + cramps
irregular or rapid hearbeat
difficulty sleeping through the night
chronic fatigue and lethargy
Magnesium Deficiency Has Been Linked To
hypertension and heart disease
type 2 diabetes
Once I started taking magnesium, I noticed a dramatic improvement in a few of these things: no more muscle spasms and chest pains, the best sleep of my life (more on this tomorrow), less anxiety and irritability, and clearer thoughts.
There are many foods that contain magnesium, but with soil depletion and modern farming practices, nutrients are often less dense than they used to be, so I highly recommend trying out a magnesium supplement if you experience any of the symptoms above on a consistent basis to see if it makes a difference for you.
I have two different magnesium powders at home, and I always take mine at night after I’ve given my dinner a little bit of time to digest (about an hour before I head to bed). Because magnesium can have a very calming effect on the body, it’s best to take it before sleep when your muscles can fully relax and restore.
The first powder is CALM, which you can buy at most Whole Foods or natural food stores. They have a few different flavors (I love the lemon raspberry). This is a bit more of a mild magnesium supplement that dissolves well into any temperature of water. Great for those wanting to try magnesium for the first time!
The second powder is one that I normally buy through my doctor, but I’ve actually found on Amazon as well. This is best mixed with warm water (in my opinion) and typically seems to do be a bit stronger than CALM. My husband hates the taste of this so it’s not for everybody, but I personally like this one just a bit more than the other.
p.s. be sure to take the amount they recommend on the package as magnesium can have a laxative effect if taken in excess!
I’m so curious to know if any of you also have experience with magnesium and it’s amazing effects.