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Magnesium and Thyroid
Understanding magnesium deficiencies and how they cause hypothyroidism.
by Brad Chase
A lack of magnesium in normal diets can cause low thyroid functions, but can be solved with proper diet and supplements.
Magnesium deficiencies are common, especially in well-developed countries where processed foods are so common. Seven out of every ten Americans is likely to have a magnesium deficiency, causing many problems including underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Certain medical conditions can aggravate magnesium deficiencies, such as diabetes and liver disease. These can lead to further problems with an underactive thyroid that makes it hard to lose weight and contributes to further aggravation of these diseases.
A lack of magnesium causes a variety of symptoms, but one of the most common ones is improper thyroid function.
Magnesium deficiencies lead to hypothyroidism that can make it hard for your body to lose weight or keep off excess weight, and regulate body temperature.
Magnesium and thyroid function are a delicate dance of proper interaction.
Magnesium deficiencies do not directly cause hypothyroid disease. Rather, a lack of magnesium impacts the thyroid in a rather round-about way. It synergizes the function of the parathyroid which regulates vitamin c and magnesium absorption.
Magnesium is also very important to bone structure, and can lead to weak bones and osteoporosis. Magnesium deficiencies also impact the normal absorption of sugars and fats.
Magnesium deficiencies can cause muscle cramps, and slowed heart rhythm. Other symptoms mimic thyroid disorder symptoms or happen because of a decreased thyroid function including:
Longer term symptoms of magnesium deficiencies include swollen gums, alopecia, hallucinations, calcium deficiency, eye and facial twitches, lesions of the gums.
One of the leading factors of an otherwise healthy person’s magnesium deficiency is an overabundance of vitamin C in the diet. Since vitamin C is so well-known for its health benefits, people tend to take it in fairly large doses, and since it won’t harm you if you take too much they aren’t normally concerned with high doses.
The problem is that vitamin C competes with magnesium, and can deplete the amount of magnesium in the system.
Another cause of magnesium deficiencies is a general poor diet. A diet comprised of a lot of processed food and sodas is a leading cause of magnesium deficiency.
Even those who are careful with their diets and drink a lot of water may still have a magnesium deficiency if the water is too soft. Drinking a lot of bottled water that lacks the common minerals from the earth can eliminate one of the best sources of natural magnesium in the diet.
Proper thyroid function demands a balance of calcium and magnesium in the system.
Even the way you cook can deplete the natural magnesium sources in foods. Boiling and steaming, normally considered a healthy way to prepare foods, can leech important vitamins and minerals including magnesium from foods.
Anyone on prescription medications for other medical problems should keep an eye on their magnesium levels as well.
Diabetes is a huge cause of magnesium deficiencies. Many people with weight problems, caused by hypothyroidism or diet are not even aware they have diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, and may have a magnesium deficiency caused by the underlying problem.
Diabetes causes the body to flush out important minerals, including magnesium. Studies have shown that people with known diabetic issues taking magnesium supplements have improved their blood sugar levels, and had better thyroid function.
Magnesium deficiency also increases the chances of developing “syndrome x” (the common name for a variety of metabolic diseases including, diabetes, artery diseases and insulin resistance) which is a common cause of obesity.
Syndrome X is typically associated with excess weight that accumulates around the waist. Taking a magnesium supplement reduces the body’s resistance to its own insulin and allows for faster weight loss.
There is a direct connection between magnesium and thyroid and an increased risk of heart disease.
Hypothyroidism is a known factor for increased risk of congestive heart failure. Hypothyroidism also makes it less likely patients with congestive heart failure will recover. Magnesium deficiencies contribute to this by causing a general weakness in heart condition, and lack of blood circulation, as well as reducing thyroid function.
Along with magnesium and thyroid, secondary hypothyroid disease caused by damage to the pituitary gland (and therefore creating a thyroid problem) can also lead to many medical conditions like those above.
Unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies are one of the hardest things to test for. The current testing is unpredictable, and even a reading that is in the normal ranges may be inaccurate.
Most doctors normally only test serum levels in the blood, which will not show magnesium deficiencies. If you would like a better indication of the levels of minerals including magnesium in your system, request an RBC (red blood cell) test.
Having this test can help you determine which minerals you have deficiencies in, as zinc and copper also cause problems with hypothyroid.
Some additional foods that boost magnesium:
Chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, but it is a double-edged sword for those with obesity related problems and underactive thyroids.
Magnesium supplements are found in pill form, capsule, and also in oil form.
You can use the oil form of magnesium by rubbing it on your skin and allowing it to absorb naturally. Using the magnesium oil is a good way to take a magnesium supplement if you have digestive problems, or if taking magnesium supplements tends to cause bowel troubles for you.
If you have a kidney condition caused by disease or other conditions magnesium can be very harmful, even fatal.
Any time you are taking prescription medications you should consult with a physician before adding magnesium supplements to your diet.
Magnesium levels can interact with several types of medications, and also is a natural blood thinner so should be taken with great care when using prescription blood thinners such as Coumadin. Discuss taking magnesium supplements with your physician if you are currently taking any of the following prescription drugs as well:
In some cases, such as with quinolone and tetracycline, problems can be avoided by taking magnesium supplements an hour before or after taking those medications. Your physician can help you determine the proper dosing and schedule for safe magnesium supplementation.
Magnesium can increase the side-effects of certain calcium blockers such as Aamlodipine, Diltiazem, Felodipine and Verapamil.
These lists are not all inclusive, and it is important to always consult your physician before adding any supplements including magnesium to prescription medicines.
It is possible, although difficult to take too much magnesium.
Magnesium toxicity is a serious and potentially deadly condition, but taking a normal daily supplement is not likely to lead to medical issues. If toxicity is a concern, or if you have kidney disease, too much magnesium can cause significant drops in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and even coma in the most severe cases.
If you have any concerns about excess magnesium, or worry about kidney function for proper expulsion of excess magnesium, consult with your physician before taking high doses of magnesium.
Normal daily magnesium supplements vary between 400 and 2000 mg divided into two or three doses per day. Too much can cause a laxative effect, and if you notice any changes in bowel movements, you should reduce the levels of magnesium supplements in your daily routine.
The USDA recommends a daily amount of magnesium between 320 mg and 420 mg.
Vitamin B-6 is an important factor in determining how well your body absorbs magnesium and other minerals, so it is a good idea to add a vitamin B complex supplement to your magnesium supplement.
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