Food is the most important part and focus on the GAPS diet. Food is medicine. If we give our bodies the right tools and nourishment, our bodies have an amazing ability to heal. On the GAPS protocol, we do have to address needs for supplementation based on each patient and their clinical picture. Many GAPS patients are deficient in magnesium. Sometimes this can be a direct or indirect result of a leaky gut in combination of the over consumption of processed foods. Every cell in our body depends on magnesium to function properly.
The Weston A. Price Foundation states:
"A diet of processed, synthetic foods, high sugar content, alcohol and soda drinks all "waste" magnesium, as a lot of it is required for the metabolism and detoxification of these largely fake foods. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the body requires at least twenty-eight molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single molecule of glucose. Phosphates in carbonated drinks and processed meats (so-called "luncheon meats" and hot dogs) bind with magnesium to create the insoluble magnesium phosphate, which is unusable by the body. Mental and physical stress, with its related continuous flow of adrenaline, uses up magnesium rapidly, as adrenaline affects heart rate, blood pressure, vascular constriction and muscle contraction— actions that all demand steady supplies of magnesium for smooth function."
What does Magnesium do:
Dr. Christiane Northrup, an award-winning, board-certified OB/GYN and author of The New York Timesbestseller The Wisdom of Menopause, explains the essential roles of Magnesium, “Magnesium is the most important mineral in your body. It regulates more than 325 enzymes, which produce, transport, store, and utilize energy. Magnesium regulates many crucial aspects of cell metabolism, such as DNA and RNA synthesis, cell growth, and cell reproduction. It is also crucial for proper nerve function, heart activity, neuromuscular transmission (a process that allows the central nervous system to control the movement of muscles in the body), muscular contraction, blood vessel tone, blood pressure, and peripheral blood flow (important for carrying cellular waste to the excretory system and overall immunity).” She describes magnesium as a ‘medical wonder’. It provides numerous benefits to support your heart, respiratory system, nervous system. It modulates blood sugar, can lessen pain, cramping, and headaches. Magnesium is often given for women in pre-term labor to stop contractions.
Magnesium and calcium both work together to regulate electrical impulses in the cells. Magnesium controls how calcium is allowed to go into every cell. This happens each time a nerve fires. If there is not enough magnesium, then there is too much calcium that gets inside of the cell. When this happens, the muscles and nerves can cramp, spasm, twitch and tics can occur. If the magnesium is deficient for longer periods and becomes chronic, we can see hypertension, irregular heart rhythms, cardiac issues, along with migraines and painful menstrual cramping. If you are eating plenty of raw cultured dairy products on the GAPS protocol, you should not need to supplement with calcium. Our muscles store magnesium and when we are depleted in magnesium, the body pulls it from the storage sites in the body depleting it even more.
Magnesium also plays an essential role with bone health and having healthy strong teeth. The Weston A. Price Foundation States, “Bones and teeth certainly do require calcium—as well as phosphorous and magnesium, but without adequate amounts of the latter, calcium will not be deposited in these hard tissues, and the structures will not be sound.” They also state, “Numerous studies…have established the fact that it is dietary magnesium, not calcium, (and certainly not fluoride) that creates glassy hard tooth enamel that resists decay, and strong and resilient bones. Regardless of the amount of calcium you consume, your teeth can only form hard enamel if magnesium is available in sufficient quantities.”
Farming practices today have depleted our once nutrient dense soil to have little or no magnesium. Our daily living habits, medications, contraceptive pills, and vaccines can also decrease magnesium levels in the body. Food processing and handling also removes magnesium from these substances. Magnesium deficiency is also very hard to test for, so we must look at the clinical picture and symptoms.
With using any supplement there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are doing the Introduction Diet, we avoid all supplementation at the beginning of the protocol and our main focus is on nourishment and healing with food. Supplements come later if needed. When using any type of supplement, it is crucial to make sure you are purchasing clean products. You do not want to take a supplement that is full of fillers, additives, and any other unnecessary ingredients. The issue with this is these substances can cause more harm and irritation to an already inflamed and damaged digestive system. Always get supplements from credible clean sources.
This article & the book The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., she describes some common symptoms of Mag deficiency.
Indications of Magnesium Deficiency:
Insomnia & fatigue
Anxiety & panic attacks
How to increase Magnesium in the Body:
There are many ways we can try to increase our Magnesium intake. We can consume magnesium-rich foods like: dark green leafy vegetables (green beans, chard, kale, broccoli, etc), nuts, seeds (like almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds), seaweed, and avocado. People who are deficient in magnesium tend to crave things like chocolate and red wine because they are high sources of magnesium. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for our bodies to take in & absorb enough magnesium from food sources alone. That is why with many GAPS patients we tend to recommend supplementing with Magnesium.
Best Forms of Magnesium:
Magnesium Glycinate: This is the best absorbed form of magnesium and is well tolerated & absorbed by the body. It is the best form for any person with a deficiency. The magnesium is combined with an amino acid called “glycine”. This is going to saturate the cells with magnesium. This will address the muscle cramping issues. Glycine works alongside the neurotransmitters in your brain promoting the production of GABA, which releases feelings of calmness. When someone is low in GABA; we see issues like anxiety. They may have an episodes where they go off out of nowhere, like turning on a light-switch. This also helps your body to produce more melatonin helping you to fall and stay asleep at night. It can help to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. There are no GI side effects with this form and is the safest option for addressing long term deficiency.
Magnesium Malate: this is also very well absorbed by the digestive system. This form of magnesium is combined with malic acid (a natural fruit acid found in green apples) and can cause excitation of the nervous system. It plays a role in ATP synthesis and energy production. This means it can be helpful for people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Magnesium sulfate: this is also known as your Epsom salt. This can absorb through the skin and is helpful to soothe aching muscles, for muscle pain, and can help facilitate the body’s detoxification system. It can also help to replenish those magnesium stores.
Magnesium Citrate: This type of magnesium is combined with citrate (an organic salt). This form of magnesium pulls water into the intestines creating a laxative effect. It can be useful on occasion for those who struggle with constipation. Avoid this if you suffer from loose bowel movements or diarrhea.
Magnesium chloride: This form of magnesium is also absorbed well. This form can work well for those who have low stomach acid levels.
If our body gets too much magnesium; our bodies excrete it in our urine. Some different forms of magnesium can cause diarrhea if you take too much of it and in that case we have you back off on the dosing. Magnesium toxicity tends to be rare in healthy individuals.
There are some contraindications to taking magnesium which include those who have: kidney failure, bowel obstruction, heart block, and myasthenia gravis.
I have searched high and low for a clean, additive-free capsule form of magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate and have yet to find one. I have been able to find very clean forms of these in a powder form, but I do have to warn you, they are quite “chalky” tasting and not all that pleasant. If you come across a legitimate clean capsule-form of one of these supplements, please share! For now, we will continue to with the clean sources that are available!
Supplementing with magnesium can be very beneficial. Those who have had lurking symptoms despite doing the GAPS protocol have seen these symptoms reversed with this supplementation. They have seen reversal or improvement in painful periods, PMS, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, and fibromyalgia.
If you are looking to work with a Practitioner and think you have a magnesium deficiency that needs to be addressed, please message me for your complimentary consultation!