Are you one of the millions of people who are deficient in Magnesium? This common mineral is essential for your energy levels, bone strength, mood, and much more. Yet the majority of us are not getting anywhere near enough in our diets. Chronic deficiency leads to a number of different diseases and conditions, and it can worsen the symptoms of Candida too.
The average American male gets around three quarters of the recommended daily amount of Magnesium – a paltry 310mg vs. the 400mg that our bodies require. Seventy five percent of us get less than we need. This is important because deficiency can lead to a variety of chronic health problems.
Magnesium is required for more than 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, including helping us to produce energy, maintain a healthy nervous system, and regulate blood sugar. It also plays a vital role in removing the toxic byproducts of Candida.
Magnesium Deficiency Can Worsen Candida Symptoms
A lack of Magnesium can worsen your Candida symptoms for one simple reason: Magnesium is needed to break down the toxic metabolites of Candida albicans. Without enough Magnesium, your body is simply unable to do the job of removing these substances from your body.
The byproducts of Candida albicans include ethanol, uric acid and ammonia, but the most important is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin that affects your brain, nervous system and many other internal organs, as well as damaging your red blood cells and reducing the capacity of your blood to carry oxygen around your body. If your body is unable to effectively process and remove it, this toxic substance can affect numerous different systems and cause a variety of symptoms. Acetaldehyde is also produced when you drink alcohol, and it is thought to be the primary cause of the next morning’s hangover!
Although Magnesium is not the only nutrient needed to break down acetaldehyde (molybdenum is also very important), it plays a major role. There is one particular enzyme that your body needs to turn toxic acetaldehyde into harmless acetate. This enzyme is named Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, and it requires Magnesium to function properly. Without enough Magnesium, your body is unable to activate the Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, which is therefore unable to break down acetaldehyde, which in turn can lead to symptoms like headaches and fatigue.
Candida Causes Magnesium Deficiency Too
I just explained how a lack of Magnesium can make Candida symptoms worse, but you should know that Candida can also prevent you from getting enough Magnesium in the first place. Health issues are rarely a case simply of one thing leading to another, and this is a great example of how cause and effect are often inextricably linked. In this case, Candida albicans actually prevents you from getting enough of the very mineral you need to combat its effects. This is why Candida sufferers are often even more deficient in Magnesium.
In the early stages of a Candida overgrowth, your body copes relatively well with the extra waste products that need to be eliminated. Your liver and kidneys are working effectively, your digestive system is functioning well, and your body’s various elimination pathways are doing what they should. The acetaldehyde, uric acid, and other Candida metabolites are being efficiently removed. However, as your gut flora become more compromised and the yeast-bacteria imbalance starts to grow, your body starts to become overwhelmed.
As increasing amounts of the Candida metabolites begin to appear, more and more of your Magnesium is used to break them down. If you started with a healthy surplus of Magnesium, it might take some time for you to become deficient. If you were deficient already (like most of us), then the onset of the typical Candida symptoms might happen very quickly. Without changes in diet or supplementation, your body simply runs out of the nutrients that it needs to process these toxins.
As if that weren’t enough, we also need to factor in the effect that Candida has on your digestion. When the balance of gut flora in your small intestine is compromised, your gut loses much of its ability to extract and absorb nutrients from your food. A primary role of the small intestine is to process and absorb the micronutrients that you eat in your food. When it is unable to perform this role adequately, you can become deficient in many of the vitamins and minerals (including Magnesium) that you need to recover your health.
So, as you can see, the development of a Candida overgrowth can lead to Magnesium deficiency in two ways. Firstly, it depletes the (probably limited) stores of Magnesium that you already have. And secondly, it interferes with your body’s ability to absorb more Magnesium from your diet. Add in the fact that most of us barely have enough Magnesium to start with, and it becomes apparent how easily the Candida yeast can benefit from a lack of this important mineral.
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
Why are we deficient in Magnesium? At first, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. If we evolved in an environment with low magnesium, surely our bodies would have adapted to it over time! So why is it such a modern day problem, and where has all this Magnesium gone? The answer lies in the way that our diets have changed.
The first culprit is modern-day farming practices. Although intensive farming has been around for less than 100 years, that has been sufficient to strip farmed soil of many of its nutrients. Studies have shown that the Magnesium levels in today’s vegetables are at least 25% lower than they were before 1950. Depleted soil leads to less nutritive food, which contributes to lower Magnesium levels in your blood and tissues.
Meanwhile, the way that your food is processed has a huge effect on its Magnesium content too. Refined pastas and breads (both on the foods to avoid list) often contain 80-95% less Magnesium than the whole grain equivalent. If you needed another reason to avoid refined grains (and there are plenty of reasons!), there it is.
The content of our diets is different now too. We eat more refined grains, fewer vegetables, and fewer nuts and seeds. In other words, we eat more of the foods that contain little Magnesium, and much less of the foods that are rich in it. This has become such a problem that many in developed countries get a large part of their Magnesium from foods like French fries and beer — simply because those are the foods that they consume the most!
Lastly, the epidemics of diabetes and obesity that are sweeping the world might be playing a role too. There is a close relationship between low Magnesium levels and high blood sugar. Just as a high sugar diet can contribute to a Magnesium deficiency, so a lack of Magnesium seems to disrupt blood sugar regulation.
There are numerous reasons why should be sure to consume enough Magnesium each day. It is absolutely necessary for optimal health, and a required element for good functioning of the cardiovascular, central, and muscular systems.
Magnesium also plays a role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism. Research has shown that supplementing with oral magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Keeping your blood sugar stable is a good way to improve your health, particularly if your are trying to rebalance your gut flora and beat a Candida overgrowth.
Getting Your Magnesium Levels Back To Normal
There are plenty of ways to restore your Magnesium levels. Supplementation is obviously one route, but adding the right foods to your diet can be a powerful tool as well. In general terms, nuts and seeds contain the most Magnesium. Fish and vegetables are also good sources, while meat and dairy products tend to contain very little. See below a table showing the Magnesium content of a few sample foods. Men should be aiming for around 400mg per day, and women for around 320mg, depending on your age and health.
|Food||Serving Size||Amount of Magnesium|
|Pumpkin seeds||1/4 cup||317mg|
|Brazil nuts||1/4 cup||133mg|
|Wild salmon, cooked||2.5oz||92mg|
|Pine nuts||1/4 cup||86mg|
|Cooked Spinach||1/2 cup||83mg|
|Okra, cooked||1/2 cup||50mg|
There are some who will tell you that Magnesium ‘feeds’ or stimulates Candida in some way, or promotes the formation of biofilms. There is a kernel of truth in this, in that Candida does actually need Magnesium to survive. But then so do all living organisms! Restricting your Magnesium intake to combat Candida, and deliberately making yourself Magnesium-deficient, would be counter-productive and likely worsen your health problems. On the other hand, eliminating sources of excess sugar (like my Candida treatment plan does) is a much more practical and effective goal.
It is relatively easy to get tested for Magnesium deficiency, but a quick look at someone’s diet is often enough. Given that the majority of us are lacking in this essential nutrient, only those who eat a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and seeds are likely to have acceptable levels. If getting enough Magnesium from your diet is too difficult or impractical, consider supplementation. There are lots of different forms, but Magnesium Glycinate is generally considered to be the best. It is very bioavailable (meaning that your body can actually absorb and use it), and it doesn’t tend to cause the diarrhea that other Magnesium supplements can.