Like a tight rope walker suspended in mid air, your body too has to find the perfect balance to function properly. The body has its own mechanisms to find the right balance, but understanding those mechanisms will help you help your body. A major equation that is commonly out of balance is that of calcium and magnesium. These days, we put a lot of emphasis on calcium intake, but little on magnesium intake. These two minerals are complementary opposites, and an imbalance can lead to dysfunction.
Calcium, as we know, helps create bone. 99% of the body’s calcium is in our bones. The other 1% is in our blood. This blood serum calcium helps the contraction and dilatation of vasculature, muscle function, nerve transmission, and the release of hormones. This 1% is of high importance and the body makes sure there is little fluctuation. An imbalance in this calcium level can lead to disturbed nerve, muscle, hormone, and vessel function.
Magnesium is also a large player in bone. 50-60% of magnesium makes up bone structure. The rest is found in soft tissues (muscles, organs, etc.) and 1% is found in the blood. Once again, this 1% must be carefully regulated. Magnesium has a large impact on the body, with 300 biomechanical reactions dependent on it, including healthy nerve, muscle, and heart function.
Are you out of balance?
Calcium deficiency rarely shows acute symptoms, but a lifetime of poor calcium intake may lead to:
- Numbness and tingling in fingers
Magnesium deficiency can show symptoms earlier and may lead to:
- Anxiety and agitation
- Restless leg syndrome
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Muscle spasm and weakness
- Low blood pressure
- Low calcium levels
How to get more calcium and magnesium.
Diet: A diet rich in leafy greens and seeds is a diet with ample calcium and magnesium.
Foods rich in calcium: Tofu, collard greens, spinach, bok choy
Foods rich in magnesium: Spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, pumpkin seeds
Supplements: Supplementing a diet that has insufficient calcium and magnesium can be an effective way to achieve daily recommended intake levels. Be sure to research the supplement you are thinking of taking to ensure the type of calcium or magnesium is the type you require and that the dosage is correct.
Epsom salts: Epsom salts are magnesium salts that allow magnesium to absorb through the skin when used in a bath or compress.
Need a little extra? Black strap molasses is a great source for both calcium and magnesium. Take 2 teaspoons daily.
For more on calcium and magnesium, visit these sources:
Photo credits: Tightrope walker, Wikipedia (free source). Calcium, Magnesium, Greens and seeds, and Spoonful of molasses, Emilie McKay.