Magnesium Deficiency from Alcohol
The effects of alcohol abuse are generally well-known, but fewer Americans recognize the dangers posed by magnesium deficiency or how common the affliction is among alcoholics and alcohol abusers. In the 1950s, clinical studies reported that magnesium deficiency was widely prevalent among alcoholics. Further studies showed that this deficiency was aggravated by hepatic damage caused by extreme alcohol intake.
Magnesium is an essential element to the human body. Despite its importance, many people – including those struggling with alcoholism – may not know the role that magnesium plays in managing their health. Read on to learn more about what magnesium deficiency means to the body, why alcoholics are at a heightened risk and how to maintain healthy levels of magnesium in the body.
Causes of Magnesium Loss
Much of the population experiences some degree of magnesium deficiency. In most cases, the source of this deficiency can be attributed to dietary choices. Many people do not plan their diets to ensure that their body is receiving sufficient levels of magnesium.
Foods That Are a High Source of Magnesium:
- Oat Bran
- Brown Rice
All of the above can be eaten to improve magnesium levels and offset the negative effects of a deficiency. However, alcohol intake must be decreased or stopped for the body to resume its natural absorption of vital nutrients, such as magnesium.
It is equally important to note that a person’s diet can also impair the body’s ability to absorb magnesium during digestion. For example, brown rice and oat bran contain a high amount of magnesium, but the magnesium in these foods is bonded to phytates. The human digestive system cannot absorb phytates, so oat bran and brown rice may be poor choices for deficient individuals looking to correct their magnesium levels. Multivitamins and certain supplements, such as those with a high dose of zinc, can hinder absorption through interactions with the body’s digestive enzymes.
Risk Factors For Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is prevalent among alcoholics, and found to contribute to osteoporosis and various cardiovascular diseases. Several factors in a typical alcoholic’s life contribute to magnesium loss:
- Lack of magnesium in regular diet.
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea
- Diuretic use.
- Renal magnesium waste (studies show that magnesium leaves the kidneys at 260% the typical rate within minutes of consuming alcohol).
Symptoms of Magnesium Loss
Magnesium loss is common among those struggling with alcohol addiction. Even worse, many of these same alcoholics are predisposed to becoming dangerously magnesium-deficient. This is a major health risk as magnesium plays a role in every part of the human body, especially the muscles, kidney and heart. In fact, 99% of the magnesium in the human body is found in the soft tissues, muscles and bones. The remaining 1% resides in red blood cells and plasma.
Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping
- Irritability and Mood Swings
- Joint pains
- Muscle Aches
- Low Energy Levels
Biology of Magnesium Loss
Magnesium deficiency is particularly dangerous in large part because magnesium plays a crucial role in several body processes at the cellular level. Magnesium aids the human body in protein synthesis, internal cell functions, and energy production. Additionally, it also aids in the production of neurotransmitter chemicals like neuronal nitric oxide. This compound keeps neurons healthy, which means that a magnesium deficiency can lead to neuronal damage, symptoms of depression and a long list of other health problems.
Conditions Made Worse By Magnesium Deficiency
Long-term alcohol abuse carries countless risks, and every alcoholic will have unique personal health factors that can contribute to these risks. Since magnesium deficiency is common among long-term alcohol users, it’s important to understand how long-term magnesium deficiency can exacerbate other afflictions that commonly effect alcoholics such as hypertension, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, magnesium deficiency in alcoholics also increases the risk of these individuals developing alcohol-related health conditions such as sarcopenia (muscle loss), brain stroke, cirrhosis, and cardiomyopathy.
Treating Magnesium Deficiency
In addition to eating foods naturally rich in magnesium and limiting one’s alcohol intake, magnesium can be taken as a supplement as a means of correcting a deficiency.
With the right source of magnesium, patients can mitigate the depression and other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms reported by alcoholics. Replacing the body’s magnesium levels also helps restore lost cell and enzyme function, leading to better metabolism, more energy and healthier organ function.