A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by the Nutritional Magnesium Association. They offered me a copy of The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean. I’d never heard of it before, to be honest, and I didn’t know much about magnesium at the time.
Halfway into the book I went out and bought my first magnesium citrate supplement. It was that convincing. And I’ve made it a priority to get enough magnesium ever since. Last month I returned to The Magnesium Miracle because I wanted to share it with you all.
If you’re skeptical about the title of this book, I don’t blame you. It sounds a little far-fetched that one simple nutrient is so potent it could be considered miraculous. But the proof is in the pudding. Carolyn Dean has seen the benefits of magnesium firsthand in her practice and throughout her medical career. She has also read (and referenced in the book) countless research papers demonstrating how magnesium can be used to improve and even resolve a number of health problems.
In the book, Dean says,
“We imagine that medicine has advanced to the stage of miraculous cures, yet it’s not technology that we’re lacking but basic nutrients that power our bodies and give us our health.”
Are You Deficient in Magnesium?
Chances are, the answer is yes. Men average only 80 percent of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of magnesium, while women get only 70 percent. Dean and other experts say the RDA may not be enough to begin with, which means the vast majority of people aren’t getting close to the magnesium they need every day. Our diets are woefully low in magnesium. Even healthy diets may not contain enough because soils are so mineral deficient these days.
Who Benefits from More Magnesium?
Who doesn’t? It’s hard not to be amazed by the list of conditions that magnesium can be used to treat. I didn’t believe it at first myself. But chapter by chapter, Dean explains the exact science behind how magnesium is used in the body, and how it can benefit a variety of conditions and ailments:
– Panic Attacks
– Chronic Pain
– Heart Disease
– PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
– PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
– Cerebral Palsy
– Kidney Stones
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
– Environmental Illness
– Degenerative Diseases (Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.)
Whew! That was a lot to type. And believe me, that’s not even the whole list. The great thing is, Dean doesn’t stop after explaining how magnesium benefits these situations. She also makes also offers dietary, supplement and lifestyle recommendations for each condition she discusses throughout the book. The tone of the book is very easy to follow. The explanations are thorough but not overkill for the layman, there’ll be no scratching your head while reading this one.
While Carolyn Dean is a medical doctor, she does believe in using the natural approach whenever possible. This question from page 46 speaks volumes:
“Does it make any sense to merely switch our addiction from sugar, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to prescription medication without looking at the possible underlying metabolic causes?”
But What About Calcium?
According to Dean, calcium is over-emphasized in our society. Of course it’s a valuable nutrient, but the constant promotion of calcium has unfortunately left magnesium in the dust. From page 21:
“Research shows that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the Paleolithic or caveman diet–the ancient diet that evolved with our bodies–was 1:1, compared with a 5:1 or 15:1 ratio in present-day diets.”
And another interesting quote from page 199:
“Centenarians (individuals reaching a hundred years of age) have higher total body magnesium and lower calcium levels than most elderly people.”
Although Dean says magnesium deficiency is so widespread almost everyone will benefit from supplementation, she also elaborates about the different ways to test for a deficiency and explains which tests are most effective (and which ones are duds).
The Magnesium Eating Plan
As usual, I come away from the eating plan of this book somewhat disappointed. On one hand, Dean makes some excellent points about nutrition, like soaking beans to improve digestibility. She even suggests soaking grains for 8-12 hours before cooking to reduce the phytic acid content. She also warns against eating too much soy, and recommends only eating fermented soy. Good call, Carolyn. Dean also recommends nutrient-dense foods because these are most rich in magnesium as well as other vital nutrients. She surprisingly exonerates dietary cholesterol and has no trouble suggesting eggs can be part of a healthy diet. She even lists butter and coconut oil as healthy fats (yay!).
But you do run into a few unappealing “fatty foods” and “limit meat consumption” statements that I feel don’t hit the mark. And I felt miffed when I saw dairy products on the “Foods to Avoid” list–right there with artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oil! Granted, there are people with dairy sensitivities who may benefit from removing most dairy products from their diet. But to flat-out say “don’t eat dairy” is going too far in my opinion. Raw milk has undoubtedly helped my own body heal and I’d hate for someone else to miss out on those benefits because of a blanket recommendation against a food that’s been a part of many healthy traditional diets for thousands of years.
Dean includes lists of foods highest in magnesium, and does a good job demonstrating how hard it is to get enough magnesium on a processed foods diet versus a whole food plan.
In the back of the book there is a great chapter explaining every aspect of magnesium supplementation. You’ll learn which magnesium supplements are most bioavailable and what the differences are between the difference kinds of supplements (like magnesium oil, homeopathic magnesium, etc.). Reading the book this time around I finally caught the paragraph where Dean ranks the different magnesium supplements in order of absorbability. Funny how I missed this the first time I read the book! (It’s on page 250 in case you’re curious.)
What’s the Verdict?
This is a great read, hands down. I’ve gotta say I’ve noticed some improvements in my health since I started supplementing with magnesium–mainly a general feeling of well-being and improved PMS symptoms. I’ve enjoyed this book (both times I’ve read it), and am surprised how much more I got out of The Magnesium Miracle this time around. I’m definitely going to keep this one on the bookshelf for future reference. And I’ll also keep taking my magnesium.
I’ll sum up this review with a great quote from page 224:
“Clearly there is more to life than magnesium, but life can’t exist without it.”