Are You Suffering From Magnesium Deficiency?

by Ann Marie Michaels on October 29, 2011

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If you’re on a grain-free diet, or have “leaky gut” or a damaged gut, you need to read this post, as you are high risk for magnesium deficiency.

Are you deficient in magnesium? The chances are good that you are, as it turns out that the majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium.

The latest government study shows a staggering 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Even more frightening are data from this study showing that 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the government’s recommended daily intake of magnesium. (Source)

My Story

I recently found out I am deficient in magnesium, which was surprising to me, since I eat a pretty healthy diet.

It was my insomnia that helped me to self-diagnose my magnesium deficiency. (Blood tests are not accurate for magnesium deficiency; the best way to tell if you are deficient is by paying attention to symptoms.) Insomnia is a symptom of magnesium deficiency. It is also commonly caused by hypoglycemia, which I also have.

I spent decades skipping meals. I also explored intermittent fasting. I just wasn’t hungry (loss of appetite is also a sign of magnesium deficiency — a vicious cycle!) I was also drinking alcohol and eating sweets pretty much every evening (the alcohol and sweets were a way to self-medicate low blood sugar and low serotonin). And up until a year ago, I drank coffee daily.

Thankfully, I’m on the right track now. To combat my hypoglycemia and insomnia, and in turn, heal my adrenal glands, I recently started eating every 2-3 hours every day and began taking amino acids, thanks to Julia Ross’s book, The Mood Cure. As a result, I no longer crave wine or sugar at night. I’m eating sweets occasionally but I got rid of all the chocolate in my secret stash and I haven’t missed it one bit.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve probably doubled what I eat every day. I’m eating a lot more complex carbs including sprouted/soaked whole grains, partly to get more minerals, particularly magnesium. I have also started supplementing with minerals, especially magnesium and zinc (I am deficient in both).

I’ll share my results so far at the end of this post.

The Importance of Magnesium

I recently read a fascinating book, The Magnesium Miracle, by Dr. Carolyn Dean, which I highly recommend. If this post resonates with you, get a copy of the book.

In this post I’ll share what I learned about magnesium deficiency from Dr. Dean’s book, as well as from other sources.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant.

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis [2-3]. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys. (Source)

Minerals like magnesium are also required in order to utilize fat soluble activators like vitamin D:

Magnesium status is critical for normal vitamin D metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and overall health. Supplemental magnesium blocks atherosclerosis in multiple animal models. — Whole Health Source blog

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

A hundred years ago, it was easy to get enough magnesium just by eating a variety of foods and drinking water. However, our modern soil is very depleted. This is due to modern farming methods which employ chemical fertilizer, and due to monocropping.

“The soil in every country in the world except Egypt has been farmed to a point of magnesium depletion.” – Dr. Norman Shealy, M.D. Ph.D (Source)

Magnesium deficiency in banana leaf

Magnesium deficiency in a banana leaf

Not only is the soil depleted, but so is the water.

Our human ancestors evolved in a world in which healthy drinking water came directly from streams, rivers, and lakes, rich in mineral content. The human body became reliant on obtaining a considerable proportion of its daily mineral needs from natural water sources.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We obtain drinking water from a spigot or a plastic bottle. Pesticides and other chemicals seeping into the water supply have made everyone suspicious of water quality. As a result, municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Exacerbating this problem is that many Americans, distrustful of the purity and safety of municipally treated water, have added home water filters and purifiers that efficiently extract any remaining minerals from the water, thus converting “hard” into “soft” water. In fact, the manufacturers of these devices boast of their power to yield water free of “contaminants” — including minerals like magnesium. Thus, the magnesium content of the water that passes through most commercial filters is zero. (Source)

Magnesium is also not very easily absorbed by the digestive tract. If you have digestive problems, such as a “leaky gut” and food allergies, you may not be absorbing much magnesium at all.

Even people with a healthy gut who eat a balanced high-magnesium diet with magnesium-rich vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, may not be able to rely upon food alone to provide sufficient magnesium levels. Absorption is a huge issue. According to Sally Fallon Morell in Nourishing Traditions, “Roughly 50 percent of magnesium in foods is absorbed.”

Mercury fillings and other forms of exposure to mercury also prevents magnesium from being absorbed and utilized by the body. Fluoride also binds with magnesium and prevents absorption. (Source)

Eating a diet high in fat can also interfere with magnesium absorption (Source). Vitamin D deficiency also affects magnesium absorption. Eating a lot of dairy products and other foods high in calcium can also affect our magnesium levels.

Drinking caffeine, carbonated soft drinks, and alcohol waste magnesium. So does eating sugar. So while cocoa is a good source of magnesium, it is rarely ever eaten without sugar, which wastes magnesium. So, sorry to say, chocolate is not recommended as a source of magnesium. (Sorry, raw cacao is out, too, as it is very high in phytic acid, which binds with minerals and prevents absorption.)

There are also a number of drugs that interfere with magnesium absorption and utilization, including the birth control pill, antibiotics, antihistamines and aspirin.

Last but not least, stress uses a lot of magnesium. If we are under stress, we need more magnesium. Not that any of us every experience any stress. ;-)

Signs and Symptoms of Low Magnesium

Do you crave chocolate? Do you get leg cramps or suffer from headaches? Do you have insomnia, body odor, or chronic constipation? These are all signs of magnesium deficiency.

Anorexia or loss of appetite
Back pain
Body odor
Confusion, brain fog
Coronary spasms
Cravings for chocolate
Difficulty swallowing
Exhaustion from exercise
Growth retardation or “failure to thrive”
Hyperactive reflexes
Impaired memory and cognitive function
Impaired muscle coordination (ataxia)
Irregular or rapid heartbeat
Insulin resistance
Involuntary eye movements
Irritability and anxiety
Muscle cramps, twitches
Muscle weakness, fatigue
Nausea and vomiting
PMS – including menstrual pain and irregularities
Stiff and aching muscles

Diseases and Conditions Associated with Magnesium Deficiency

Here’s a list of diseases and disorders associated with magnesium deficiency:

Arthritis – Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis
Auto immune disorders – all types
Cerebral Palsy – in children from magnesium deficient mothers
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Congestive Heart Disease
Crooked teeth – narrow jaw – in children from magnesium deficient mothers
Diabetes – Type I and II
Eating disorders – Bulimia, Anorexia
Gut disorders – including peptic ulcer, Crohn’s disease, colitis, food allergy
Heart Disease – Arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, high triglycerides
Heart Disease – in infants born to magnesium deficient mothers
High Blood Pressure
Impaired athletic performance
Infantile Seizure – in children from magnesium deficient mothers
Kidney Stones
Loss of Appetite
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Migraines – including cluster headaches
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Multiple Sclerosis
Myopia – in children from magnesium deficient mothers
Obesity- especially obesity associated with high carbohydrate diets
Parkinson’s Disease
PPH – Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
Restless Legs Syndrome
SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Syndrome X – insulin resistance
Thyroid disorders – low, high and auto-immune; low magnesium reduces T4

(Sources: and

Food Sources of Magnesium

How to get more magnesium into your diet? The easiest way is to eat whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. Because I am magnesium deficient, I am now eating whole grains (properly sprouted, soaked and fermented) at least 2 or 3 times per day.

Soaked nuts and seeds are also a great source of magnesium, as are legumes and greens such as kale and Swiss chard. Wild bitter greens such as dandelion and nettles are very rich in magnesium. I don’t personally eat a lot of dandelion, kelp and other sea vegetables, but if you enjoy them, go for it!

Sourdough whole-wheat boule

Whole wheat sourdough bread

“… If farm soils are well-mineralized, leafy green vegetables, seeds, tree nuts and whole grains are fairly good sources of magnesium. Certain wild-crafted forage foods really stand out, however, such as nettles (860 mg per 100 grams) and chickweed (529 mg per 100 grams), and add many tonic and nutritive benefits to both human and livestock diets largely due to their high mineral content. Kelp, ancient denizen of the sea, contains spectacular levels, as do most sea vegetables. Remember that they are continually bathed in a solution whose third most abundant mineral is magnesium. And authentic, unrefined sea salt is a very good source of magnesium, along with trace minerals. Utilizing bone broths on a daily basis will provide another excellent source of minerals, including magnesium, in a highly assimilable form.” – Katherine Czapp (Source)

To Your Health Sprouted Flour

Sprouted Whole Grain Spelt Flour from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.

If you eat whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes to get magnesium, it is critical that you properly sprout and or soak them. Phytic acid binds with minerals. When a mineral binds to phytic acid, it becomes insoluble which means it will not be absorbed by the intestines. Please see my article, Soaking Grains: A Traditional Practice.

Where to Find Sprouted Grains, Nuts & Seeds

Please see my resources page for sources of sprouted whole grains

Magnesium Supplements

You may want to consider supplementing with magnesium. However, not any supplement will do.

I’m currently taking Now Foods True Balance (a multivitamin; 120 mg of magnesium) and Country Life Target-Mins Total Mins (a mineral multi; 2 tablets provide 500 mg of magnesim), both recommended by Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure.

In addition, I’m also taking ionic magnesium from Trace Minerals (Trace Minerals Research Liquimins Ionic Magnesium) and I’m using the magnesium oil spray.

Visit my resources page for sources of magnesium oil and magnesium flakes.

I am averaging about 1000-1200 mg of magnesium per day just from the supplements, plus I get more from food. I will continue to gradually increase the dosage until my stool becomes loose.

I really think the magnesium oil is the best way to go if you have any issues with your gut. I’m playing around with different supplements and amounts to see how much I need and how it absorbs. It is safe to experiment — just pay attention to your stool and you’ll know if you are taking too much.

Note: You can also add magnesium oil to your bath if you find that you don’t like spraying it on — some people find that it’s itchy or that it stings a little)

I learned a lot about magnesium supplementation from this article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website: Magnificent Magnesium. Here are a few excerpts, but I recommend reading the whole article as there is a lot of information (too much to cover here):

Even with ideal digestive conditions, only a percentage of magnesium in foods will be absorbed less when amounts in the body are adequate and more if there is a deficiency… For the average person, magnesium supplementation is safe to experiment with on your own, especially if you know you have symptoms that could be related to magnesium deficiency or are under extra stress, and so on. Excess magnesium is excreted in urine and the stool, and the most common response to too much magnesium is loose stools. Those with renal insufficiency or kidney disease, extremely slow heart rate, or bowel obstruction should avoid magnesium therapy.

General dosage recommendations range from about 3 to 10 milligrams per pound of body weight, depending upon physical condition, requirements for growth (as in children), and degree of symptoms.

Oral magnesium supplements are available in organic salt chelates, such as magnesium citrate and magnesium malate. These are fairly well absorbed, especially in powder forms to which you add water and can tailor your dosage. It is important to divide your dosage during the day so that you do not load your body with too much magnesium in any single dose. Carolyn Dean recommends taking your first dose early in the morning and another in the late afternoon—these correspond to times when magnesium levels are low in the body. Is it just a coincidence that these times of low magnesium and low energy also correspond to the cultural rituals of morning coffee and afternoon tea?

Loose stools indicate you are not absorbing the magnesium, but that it is acting as a laxative.

Yet another option for oral magnesium supplementation is ionic magnesium in liquid form, such as that offered by Trace Minerals Research. This is a sodium-reduced concentration of sea water from the Great Salt Lake in Utah…

Another potential way to get more magnesium into your system is via the pleasant method of soaking in a bath of magnesium sulfate, otherwise known as Epsom salts… A couple of cups of Epsom salts added to a hot bath will induce sweating and detoxification; after the water cools a bit, the body will then absorb the magnesium sulfate. According to Mark Sircus in Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, the effects from a bath of Epsom salts, although pleasant, are brief as magnesium sulfate is difficult to assimilate and is rapidly lost in the urine. Magnesium chloride, which can also be used in baths, is more easily assimilated and metabolized, and so less is needed for absorption.

Finally, magnesium may be applied topically in a form commonly called magnesium “oil.” This is actually not an oil at all, but a supersaturated concentration of magnesium chloride and water. (Source)

Visit my resources page for sources of magnesium oil and magnesium flakes.

My Results So Far with Magnesium Supplementation

I’ve been supplementing for about two weeks now, in addition to eating a LOT more food (I’m eating 3 meals plus 3-4 snacks per day; this is up from just 2 small meals per day) and I’m avoiding alcohol, sugar and caffeine.

First and foremost, I’m beyond thrilled that I have an appetite! I can’t tell you how AMAZING this is!

You see, I drank coffee every morning since I was about 16 until I quit just last year. Caffeine is a strong appetite suppressant, and it also depletes magnesium. I think that was what initially messed up my appetite. On top of that, I smoked cigarettes and drank Diet Coke (I quit both of those in 2006 when I got pregnant). Cigarettes and soda are both appetite suppressants and they also deplete magnesium.

Low magnesium causes a loss of appetite. I wasn’t hungry so I’d skip meals and when I did eat, I didn’t eat enough, which led to hypoglycemia which led to craving wine and sugar at night — more wasting of magnesium, hence more appetite loss. No wonder I wasn’t hungry!

I’m thrilled to report that I wake up in the morning absolutely FAMISHED now. This is amazing to me! I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for a person who LOVES food to not be able to eat very much. Couple that with a metabolism that moves at a snail’s pace and life really sucks. Big time!

Nowadays, I have to eat a snack as soon as I get out of bed (usually a piece of fruit and some nut butter, or some soaked nuts and cheese, or a glass of raw milk and nuts) then I eat a big breakfast 2 hours later (typically 2-3 eggs plus oatmeal or whole wheat toast). I’m starving again by lunchtime, and always need an afternoon snack to get me through until dinner. It’s 9 pm now and I just had an evening snack of grass-fed cheese and whole wheat crackers. I’ll probably have a glass of raw milk before bed, as well. Hooray, I can eat again!

My insomnia is about 90% gone. I still wake up occasionally but it is usually because of a noise or my daughter waking me up. And I go right back to sleep within 15 minutes (it used to take hours).

I’ve also noticed that my elimination has improved. It was good before, but it is fabulous now! Sorry if this is TMI for some people, but my stools are so fabulous, I actually get excited about them.

Bristol Stool Chart

My stools used to range from a Type 3 to a Type 4, but now they are consistently looking more like a Type 4, and sometimes even a 5. According to Konstantin Monastyrsky in his book, Fiber Menace, type 5 is ideal. Read more about the stool types here. I have a bowel movement every morning (which is normal for me) but now I’m often having a second bowel movement in the afternoon/evening. (This is especially interesting to me because when I was on a low-carb diet, I suffered from constipation. When I was on the GAPS diet, however, I did not experience constipation. It must have been all the bone broth I was eating; bone broth is rich in minerals, including magnesium.)

I’ve noticed another benefit of taking magnesium. I no longer need deodorant. My body odor has completely disappeared. Carolyn Dean mentions this in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, and it has been true in my experience.

I’m also taking magnesium to help regulate my blood sugar and nourish my exhausted adrenal glands. Magnesium is called the calming mineral, so it definitely helps if you are under stress and/or have stressed adrenal glands. Magnesium also plays a central role in the secretion and utilization of insulin, facilitating sugar metabolism.

It’s too early to tell how my change in diet and supplements are helping with my hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and adrenal fatigue, but this was astounding to me: in the past two weeks, I have lost a half inch in my waist and a quarter inch in my hips. Yes, this happened despite the fact that I have doubled my caloric intake and have been eating whole grains and other complex carbohydrates at pretty much every meal.

My theory, which I am still testing, is that my hypoglycemia (caused by fasting and not eating enough) has been causing cortisol surges, which result in weight gain around the mid-section. My hunch is that if I continue to nourish myself with plenty of good food and take supplements, I will sleep better, my cortisol will become regulated, my adrenals will heal, and the spare tire around my middle will melt away. Yes, I’m an n of one, but if I can get rid of my belly fat, that’s good enough for me. We’ll see how it goes.

To read more about my insomnia and belly fat, check out these posts: How Intermittent Fasting Caused My Insomnia and Belly Fat and Is It Wheat Belly? Or Cortisol Belly?

Do You Think You Might Be Magnesium Deficient?

What do you think? Do you think you might be low in magnesium? Have you had success with supplementing with magnesium?

Please share your comments below.

Photo credit: Sourdough whole-wheat boule by tmoertel, on Flickr
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{ 274 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam October 27, 2013 at 1:46 PM

I can’t thank you enough!!! I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I couldn’t just accept there wasn’t a reason why my body was off whack. Major symptoms was insomnia, but more of muscle spams nonstop, every day, all day, all muscle groups. I started craving chocolate like crazy and I never crave sweets! For years I tried to get help for my exhaustion and muscle tightness that chronically hurts. All I ever got was it was stress and anxiety. I tried taking supplements but because I was on birth control pills for over 20 years I never saw any results except for loose stools. My Epsom salt baths were the only short term relief I could get. I quit my bc pills for months ago, started back on supplements and diet changes to all natural. The magnesium oil is my missing link!


Pam October 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

I can’t thank you enough!!! I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I couldn’t just accept there wasn’t a reason why my body was off whack. Major symptoms was insomnia, but more of muscle spams nonstop, every day, all day, all muscle groups. I started craving chocolate like crazy and I never crave sweets! For years I tried to get help for my exhaustion and muscle tightness that chronically hurts. All I ever got was it was stress and anxiety. I tried taking supplements but because I was on birth control pills for over 20 years I never saw any results except for loose stools. My Epsom salt baths were the only short term relief I could get. I quit my bc pills four months ago, started back on supplements and diet changes to all natural. The magnesium oil is my missing link!


Moira June 8, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Pam – I too have fibro and arthritis pains AND officially undiagnosed except by my NAET practitioner, leaky gut. Birth control pills nuke your good intestinal flora – check out the GAPS or specific carbohydrate diet sites for information on that. This is one thing that Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, the founder of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome or GAPS diet, attributes to the explosion of autism in our day – several generations of mothers who either used artificial contraception and/or used antibiotics – therefore their gut flora wasn’t adequate for the next generation and so forth, leading to the last person, the autistic, getting robbed the most of what their stomach/GI tract needed from mom. She has all the science to back it up.
I have been taking Soloray Magnesium Asporotate which seemed to agree with me but to my horror this morning I saw that it has rice flour – even though I’ve been on a gluten free diet I am looking at least at migrating to Paleo while I try and work myself into GAPS or SCD or Body Ecology (the hardest one) but frankly making the yogurt and/or the cultured veggies is a hugely daunting thing to me. The one attempt we tried to make sauerkraut was a horrendous failure, and then Donna Gates and some of these guys charge so much for one thing of starter – cha ching!!! They’re definitely not out to help poor people with these problems. The foods that are required are generally only at health stores which means bring your sack of gold into the store please. I’ve oftentimes had the experience of one little tiny bag of food that is ‘legal’ costing me anywhere from fifty bucks to nearly 100. I guess compared to the pain and suffering cost shouldn’t be too much of a factor but we all do have to do what we can, I suppose.
I have an adopted child with RAD and asperger’s syndrome – dual diagnosis -which is why I was looking into doing GAPS originally with her. However because of her attachment disorder, even though recently while I’ve been doing LENS neurofeedback on her and me (has helped us both a lot), she still isn’t at a point where I can keep her home and home school her, and doing one of those diets like Paleo, GaPS, SCD or Body Ecology is pretty much a full time no cheating proposition which becomes a bit overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable when you’ve been already through 9 years of fits and defiant behaviors. So..getting back to magnesium, I thank the blog here for bringing up the oil, etc because I have a suspicion that other supplements may also contain the grains, and my preliminary look at which is the ‘safe’ vitamin company for SCD I didn’t see a magnesium alone supplement right off the bat. My NAET practitioner also says just about everyone is deficient, and as I live in the pacific northwest, everyone up here is deficient in D as well. They work together to help your pain. Some people are doing what is considered ‘overdose’ therapy on Vitamin D and are getting great results with their fibro doing that. I saw a book on amazon about that but can’t remember the name. Anyway, check into that as well.


Thomas November 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Very good info. You hit everywhere!!


Jacinda Davis December 4, 2013 at 8:32 AM

The article is great… however, the share link is terrible… all it shows is a link with no explanation… don’t know why cause I’m not a techie… but I know that it’s unlikely that anyone will click on it…

Just thought I’d let you know…


Augustina December 11, 2013 at 6:28 AM

I recently decided to reintroduce fermented grains back into my diet after nearly 3 years on a low carb WAPF-Paleo hybrid diet (no grains/beans/potatoes, lots of saturated fat and fermented dairy, “natural” sugar replacement like Stevia). Part of what made me want to make the switch was reading all these articles cropping up about magnesium and zinc deficiency. I definitely have the symptoms of magnesium and zinc deficiency. My first year on WAPF-Paleo was great. My second year, I did go through maybe a month here and there of consuming some small quantities of refined wheat flour. This past year however I’ve been very strict. I’ve seen my overall health decline as a result. I’m not losing weight. Like you I’ve gotten into a pattern of intermittent fasting and simply don’t have an appetite. When I do, I’m not actually able to eat very much. And as soon as I eat, even high fat low carb meals, I get brain fog and feel like I’m having blood sugar crash symptoms, needing a nap. I just feel like my whole system is out of whack. I’m surprised that articles I’ve read suggesting why you should eat grains don’t mention things like Magnesium and Zinc as well as overall metabolic function. In fact, the biggest reason I would push for people to consider restrictive diets like Paleo as temporary “detox” diets is that we don’t fully understand human physiology. Some of the healthiest populations in human history, including the Swiss living in valleys mentioned in Weston A Price literature and a study published recently on working class populations in the UK in the 1830’s, thrived on a high grain diet. At least 50% of their diet came from fermented grains, yet they didn’t have the health issues that the Paleo school of thought claims. I think what’s happening is we’re forgetting the human body is an interdependent micro-cosmos. You can’t just completely demonize one thing and then eliminate it or drastically reduce it in ways that are inconsistent with human evolution. I love how the Paleo folks will cite the Eskimos or the Masai to validate an extreme low-carb diet for people of Western European descent. We don’t know the extent of the genetic differences… even Weston A. Price concluded that populations with well-balanced and less specialized diets were healthier and better off than cultures with extreme diets like the Masai. AND most Paleo people do NOT even come close to eating those types of specialized diets. One argument against the Vegan diet is that no traditional culture anywhere eats a diet like that. I can make the same argument about the way most people follow the Paleo diet (even with WAPF principles). What traditional culture makes brownies out of walnut meal or muffins out of coconut meal? Even for die hard fanatics, the food they eat is not consistent with hunter-gatherer foraging. It usually comes from a farm containing domesticated animals which goes hand in hand with agriculture. You can’t pick and choose and then target “carbs” or “gluten” as the devil when we barely understand the microcosmos of human physiology. Personally, I’ve noticed most people following WAPF principles WITH grains have a well balanced diet consistent with what people have eaten in traditional societies that were healthy. Personally I’ve decided to make the switch to an American and Western European diet that mimics what people were eating in the early 1800’s because a) we know what they ate and b) we know it worked. Anyways I’m sorry to ramble here, but I wanted to say I really appreciate your post on Magnesium deficiency because for me, recognizing my own deficiency in Magnesium is what started waking me up from the Paleo doctrine and forcing me to listen to the common sense of our great-great-grandparents.


Skye December 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Thanks for your “ramble,” Augustina, it was very interesting! Do you by any chance have a link to the study you mentioned about workers in the 1830s in the UK? I would love to see information regarding their diet and health outcomes.

Very glad to hear you are on the road to better and better balanced health with reintroducing fermented grains into your diet. All the best to you!


Augustina December 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

The study is here, ironically I believe I found it from a Paleo blog, although I can’t remember which one:


Skye December 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Fascinating reading! Thanks so much for coming back to share the link with me/us. : )

The most telling thing from that study is something I have been thinking a lot about recently – most of us need to eat more calories. Only by eating significantly more than the 2,000-2,500 generalized recommendations for daily calorie intake can we hope to come even closer to the quantities of vitamins, minerals, micro and macro nutrients that we need. And, obviously, our food choices need to be generally whole food choices. It’s easy to eat 3,500 calories a day eating processed foods, because of their high sugar content. Much harder to eat 3,500 calories from whole foods.

And, in concert with those increased calories, we have to move more. If we didn’t, we’d have all the nutrients but likely an unhealthy amount of weight gain as well. The only way to get all the nutrients and stay at a healthy weight is to eat more calories AND exercise/move more. Well, that’s the only ‘natural’ way… you can also eat less calories, exercise less, and supplement, but obviously that cannot be as ideal.

Thanks so much as well, Augistina, for the link to the cook book!



Skye December 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

* Augustina : )


Augustina December 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Here is an article linked in that first one with a more detailed breakdown of what the weekly diet would look like:

The first article mentions “whole grains” but suggests their diet might mimic a “Paleolithic diet”. Their diet did not mimic a “Paleolithic diet” because they ate beans and grains, I think that comment may be politically charged. There are a number of cookbooks from the time period, one in particular I really that’s free called “A Plain Cookery for the Working Class” That one is published in the UK during the time period mentioned in these studies. Most cookbooks from that period targeted middle class, but this one really stands out as being targeted for working class. There is heavy use of grains and beans in that cookbook and the recipes outlined are consistent with the diet described in these papers.


Moira June 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Thanks for your information on this. I really appreciate it. You’ve obviously thought through the issue and researched it out well. Thanks again.


Lauren S December 19, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I was wondering if your stomach growls and grumbles more since taking more magnesium? Ever since I started drinking the Natural Calm, my stomach makes crazy noises. Is it just me???


Sue June 4, 2014 at 5:17 AM

Mine does the same thing. When you are taking more magnesium than you can absorb, the extra magnesium will irritate your GI tract, and you body will do what it needs to do to expel the extra magnesium, but drawing extra water into the bowels – aka – loose stools, aka diarrhea. Many people have this problem with magnesium supplements. You might find that magnesium lotion is a better option for you. It tingles and stings for about 20 minutes, but then it goes away. I’m also getting magnesium IV therapy from my integrative doctor.


Jordie December 20, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Just wondering if you could use clean, clear sea water instead of a magnesium spray?


Brenda December 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM

I was using the spray on magnesium every night for a couple weeks… I think I overdid it, because I actually made myself really sick from it. Like insane diarrhea for a week afterwards!! I’ve been too scared to try it again for fear of that happening. Even though I have some of those symptoms, I thought my body was rejecting the magnesium, so it must have enough?


Melissa December 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

You’re right about magnesium having a laxative affect! That doesn’t mean you don’t need it, though. Magnesium by nature does that, which is why it is difficult to supplement. I would recommend starting the magnesium spray again, but at a lower dose. Start with one spray on, say, an arm, or neck before you go to bed at night. See how that goes, and then work up to maybe three sprays a day. Most minerals and vitamins are more easily absorbed in lower quantities anyway.



Suzanne January 19, 2014 at 10:55 PM

I have been lchf for thee months and just experienced cramps in my feet and flutters in my upper GI. No appetite either. I was doing the bullet coffee every morning. I don’t like the altered heart beats at all. So I have cut out the coffee and doing mag oil and drinking the Calm for several days now. Hope this all works soon. Scary stuff.


Kelli January 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

I just recently, about two months ago started taking vitamin E, C and B12 along with a calcium magnesium, vita D supplement. I am loosing the spare tire around my middle, my stools are more normal, I suffered form constipation and hard stools, I also am sleeping better, I also drank wine every night and ate chocolate, I no longer crave them and had to make myself have a glass the other night…I thought it was due to my new meditation routine, but my hair and nails are healthier also, after reading this article I can see that it is from the magnesium. I was hypoglycemic too, but never feel that weird feeling it gave me any more and I am ravenous in the am and afternoon now….I thank you for sharing this article…


Rachel January 29, 2014 at 8:30 AM

About those stupid, distrustful Americans who make their water soft by filtering it…

We live in Manhattan, if you turn on the tap here, you will see a cloudy, sometimes brown liquid that is insanely soft — it is very hard to get your hands dry. Plus the fluoride literally stinks. Of course I do not trust that. Some of our neighbors have gallons of drinking water delivered to their door.

I moved here from Germany, so I have experienced water that at least was not poisoned with fluoride.


JR May 29, 2014 at 1:40 PM

That’s chlorine you’re smelling in the water, not flouride. I remember living in upstate New York, watching tv and reading the news with the crystal-clean, delicious water being piped down to NYC exploding from fire hydrants so kids could have fun. So, have the drinking water delivered already.


Yela January 31, 2014 at 1:50 AM

Thank you for a wonderful article that explains so thoroughly this issue! I too have very low energy, low b12 and iron, spasms and cold hands and feet. I definitely will take magnesium, I think the oil will work best for me. I am confused though about what you mentioned that our ancestors got their minerals from stream waters rivers and lakes, this is an issue I am trying to learn and understand about, since much has been said that the best water is water that does not have any minerals in it, and that unorganic minerals (such found in water) cannot be absorbed in the body and the body stores them as waste. The only minerals the body can utilize are minerals that our found in food, i.e. organic minerals (fruits and vegetables), so I was wondering what is the right approach to drinking water? I do use a distiller that gives pure H2o, and that is what I am drinking, but do I need to add minerals to it? I would thank anyone who can clarify this confusing issue!


SCOTT32 February 11, 2014 at 5:19 AM

Im curious as to how you discovered the three supplements you take which have magnesium? Why not take magnesium on its own? Why a multi vitamin?

Whats the best form of magnesium compound and do you have recommended brands?

Ive been diagnosed with vestibular migraine with anxiety and depression. A lot of articles on the net says that MAgnesium deficiency could be the cause. I want to try magnesium but im confused bec there are so many kinds and a lot of them are not really safe to be taken.

So far from research magnesium taurate, Magnesium threonate are recommended. What are your thoughts?

Thank you!


Steve February 16, 2014 at 1:24 AM

Haha wow man I am all for Mg, but your signs and symptoms is kinda retarded. Exhaustion from exercise? Uh isn’t that the point? Body odor…. Um yeah that can be caused by a multitude of things. Aggression? Lol, again a lot of things. I can go on and on.


Sara March 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM

This is off topic but I really wish people would stop using the word “retarded” to say something is stupid. Steve, I am not trying to pick on you. I just want you to know that you might unknowingly hurt someone by using that word in that context.


Ellissa March 14, 2014 at 8:44 AM

I recently stumbled upon your article while looking for ways to increase my body temperature. I have many hypothyroidism symptoms and have been taking magnesium supplements for a couple of years now. I take about 750 to 1000 mg a day and my migraine headaches have completely gone away. Now after reading what you have to say about magnesium deficiency, especially about elimination issues, I am going to gradually increase my intake and see what happens. Thanks for an informative post.


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tinyurl April 7, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Hi. I am going to buy a Magnesium supplement later tonight. I’ve been suffering from insomnia for almost 2 months now and I don’t want to take Ambien anymore since it makes me so depressed! I have already stopped taking Ambien and started to drink Sleepytime Extra tea and it helps me doze off. But last night I was not able to sleep. So tonight I am going to start to take Magnesium supplement. I also have severe migraines which keeps me up all night!

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Mary June 4, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Certain magnesium supplements cause more bowel problems. Magnesium Citrate seems to be the WORST. Magnesium Oxide seems to be the least bothersome. But if you are taking LOTS (like I am – my body doesn’t “hold onto it”!), then a variety is best. Best not to take magnesium with Vitamin C. But if you can take it multiple times a day, then it isn’t so prone to causing “issues.” At night is a good time to “load up” – to a point. It relaxes you and helps you sleep. Taking calcium and D3 along with Magnesium at night is a great combo. (You can buy some combos of that mixture.) I wake up and have a comfortable BM every morning.


Chuck June 15, 2014 at 7:45 PM

I am amazed more people aren’t dead because of magnesium deficiency. If you look at all of the food sources with magnesium, most people don’t eat any of them. How is the body able to utilize, burn, and/or waste magnesium when most people don’t consume nearly the quantity that is recommended? I am a 49 year old male sounding very much like Ann Marie–My breakfast was my biggest meal of the day–at MOST a bowl of oatmeal with whole milk and a banana…at minimum a couple eggs and a glass of whole milk. Total calories was 500 to 370. Lunch was often a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato 300 calories and a big magnesium drainer…..and dinner was often grass fed beef of some sort or organic chicken breast and a little bit of broccoli. (300-400 calories….no where NEAR enough calories for a man 5’9″ 150 pounds. My magnesium deficiency became apparent with heart palpitations after going two days with very limited calories…and it scared me. I am prone to a lot of anxiety so that too is a magnesium drainer. I started supplementing with magnesium and believe I started too much too fast….had a reaction that I would equate to being on drugs–or full fledge panic attack..rapid heart rate and shaky….went to the doctor…all my blood work came back extremely normal (magnesium isn’t something they test in a CBC). EKG was normal except the 120 bpm heart rate. I was referred to a cardiologist. He said all my blood looked good and EKG looked just fine. Wanted me to wear the 24 hour monitor…so I did. That revealed nothing but a few palps that were of no significance—-says everyone has them and I really never noticed any when I was wearing the monitor. I started using magnesium oil and the palps go away as long as I use enough magnesium. The insomnia isn’t totally gone. I usually wake up at 12:20 am after falling asleep at 11-11:30…go to the bathroom or just close my eyes and fall back asleep…and sleep until 3 or 4 am….I usually can fall back asleep within 15-30 minutes (used to take hours) and sleep until 6 or 7 and only wake up because I am starving. Like Ann Marie, my appetite has kicked up to levels I never had before taking magnesium. I was low carb, low calorie and that I think really screwed my metabolism up. I was also taking Vitamin D3 at 5000 I.U.s a day with either Magnesium Oxide (poorly absorbed) or went without Magnesium which is horrible from what I hear. The magnesium has helped but it has been about 7 weeks…and only about 3 of them on the magnesium oil–I know if I stop the magnesium the palps return so I am certain I am not at the level my stores are replenished sufficiently. I don’t consider the increased appetite a “great” thing. Having a good appetite would be wonderful…but this is a bit more than “good” appetite. I have gained a few pounds….but really where I normally am at. I don’t feel 100%, but I do think it has helped a lot. I am hoping once my weight and body fat increases a little bit, that my appetite will calm down a bit. If I could sleep from 11 pm to 7 am that would be wonderful…just don’t know if I am in such a habit or if perhaps my adrenals are fatigued as well… really is an experiment. Oh one more thing, for about 3 months prior to the palps, I had very very dry patches of skin on my right hand fingertips…all but the pinky. My thumb got so bad it cracked and bled. NOTHING but nothing relieved it. No hand cream…nothing. AFter 2 days of magnesium supplements it cleared up…completely gone. So I do believe skin issues can be magnesium related.


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