Magnesium and a Gluten-Free Diet
Are you aware of your magnesium levels?
Recent studies show that most Americans (70-80%) do not consume foods that provide enough magnesium to meet the recommended daily intake (RDI). The RDI level is the absolute minimal level that has been established for the majority of the population to simply avoid a severe deficiency of a particular nutrient. This incites three interesting questions: (1) If a large portion of us are not even meeting the minimal daily requirements to avoid serious conditions associated with a clinical magnesium deficiency, how many people suffer from a less severe or sub-clinical form of magnesium deficiency? (2) How many of us are actually getting enough magnesium to promote optimal health? (3) Of those who are consuming proper levels of magnesium, how many of them are not properly absorbing, or actually losing, the magnesium in their diet due to the presence of gluten in their diet?
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of dietary supplements, magnesium inadequacy can occur even while magnesium intake may be above the required amount to prevent overt deficiency. While there are many factors which can contribute to a magnesium inadequacy (such as frequent or excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee, fluoridated or distilled water, and refined foods), there are groups of people who likely have a higher risk of suffering from a magnesium inadequacy. Of these groups, the first on the list are those who have gastrointestinal diseases. It states…“chronic diarrhea and fat malabsorption resulting from Chron’s disease, gluten-sensitive enteropathy (Celiac disease) and regional enteritis can lead to magnesium depletion over time.” Furthermore, it goes on to state that a resection or bypass of the small intestine, especially the ileum, typically leads to malabsorption and magnesium loss. Just how many people fit into this group would be difficult to estimate, since this covers a number of different conditions besides Celiac disease, which can lead to inflammation and damage or permeability of the gastrointestinal tract. When it comes to Celiac disease alone, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness asserts that up to 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
Magnesium is an alkaline macro-mineral used by the body as an electrolyte and a co-factor for hundreds of enzymes and, thus, the proper functioning of several enzyme systems within the body. Optimal levels of magnesium are vital for a healthy heart, bones, energy and metabolism, digestion, relaxation and sleep, blood pressure…pretty much everything one associates with health. Magnesium is found in foods such as kelp, nuts and seeds, kale, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, avocados, fish, and brown rice to name a few. It’s even found in coconut. What it is not found in is refined and processed grains, sugars and flours. In fact, consuming these empty caloric foods can even use up and deplete your body’s current reserves of magnesium.
Magnesium supplementation is quite common and one of the most popular supplements used overall. Examples of the more bioavailable forms of supplemental magnesium are Magnesium Glycinate, citrate and malate. Magnesium can also be applied topically; some people tend to absorb magnesium topically better than internally. While taking measures such as making sure to consume foods containing magnesium or supplementing magnesium can help to increase your chances of avoiding a magnesium deficiency. If you are someone who has a condition such as Chrohn’s or Celiac disease, it may be best to completely avoid offending foods (i.e. gluten) which could be contributing to damage to intestinal villi in order to slowly increase your ability to absorb dietary magnesium.