Doctor explains how magnesium can aid sleep
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said magnesium is a “co-factor” in more than 300 “diverse biochemical reactions in the body”. This essential mineral is abundant in green, leafy vegetables. Are you getting enough? Rich sources of magnesium include spinach, nuts, seeds and legumes, but habitually eating low intakes of such foods may lead to a deficiency. Chronic alcoholism and the use of certain medications can also lead to a magnesium deficiency.
Early signs that your body is craving magnesium can include:
- Loss of appetite
As a magnesium deficiency worsens, the NIH warned it can lead to numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, as well as seizures.
In addition, severe magnesium deficiency can result in personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms.
What are coronary spasms?
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) stated coronary artery spasms are also known as variant angina or Prinzmetal angina.
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The under-diagnosed condition causes chest pain caused by tightening of a heart artery.
Arm or jaw pain may also accompany chest pain, which is the same symptoms of a heart attack.
Variant angina can be induced from cold weather, exercise or stress, and has even been linked to menstrual cycles in women.
Unlike angina caused by fatty deposits of cholesterol, variant angina occurs when a spasm occurs in the muscle layer of the arterial wall.
This leads to a temporary blockage, which may lead to a heart attack if the heart muscle is starved of oxygen.
The BHF note that the spasms occur when there is too many “tightening chemicals” and not enough “relaxing chemicals” in the body.
“The spasm may be linked to areas of inflammation within the blood vessel wall,” added the charity.
An angiogram conducted in the hospital can confirm a coronary artery spasm.
This involves using an X-ray image of the heart arteries and injecting a chemical called acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine should cause the blood vessels to relax, but if the X-ray reveals the blood vessels constricting, then you have coronary artery spasms.
Treatment options can include calcium channel blockers, such as verapamil or diltiazem.
These drugs work by preventing the absorption of calcium into the muscle cells of the blood vessels – in effect, relaxing them.
The NIH identified groups of people who are at higher risk of a magnesium deficiency which includes those who have:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Alcohol dependence
“Habitually low intakes of magnesium induce changes in biochemical pathways that can increase the risk of illness over time,” said NIH.
The NIH recommends eating soybeans, baked beans, lentils, and peanuts to help increase magnesium levels.
However, it’s best to “stay within your daily calorie needs” (i.e. not to overeat), and to limit saturated and trans fats.
In general, the NHS suggests women should eat 2,000 calories per day while men should eat 2,500 calories per day.
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