If you’ve been reading about natural treatments for supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), you probably are learning that magnesium is a very important piece of the SVT prevention puzzle. However, most of us don’t know much about magnesium in general, where we get it, if we should use supplements, what kinds of supplement options we have, how we might be unknowingly depleting our magnesium stores, or what we can do about it.
I first learned about the importance of magnesium when I was searching for help with my migraines years ago. Magnesium can operate as a muscle relaxant, making it an ideal mineral for those who suffer from muscle tension, tension headaches or migraines. “Chronic migraine sufferers often have low levels of magnesium in the body – in fact, this is often one of the prominent symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.” (1)
I continued researching magnesium trying to determine the role that it was playing in the presence of my SVT. In fact it was very interesting to me that I had migraines, SVT and many other symptoms of magnesium deficiency. There is a lot to learn about magnesium, its role in integrative SVT management and why magnesium deficiency is so prevalent today. As such, I’m going to share everything I know about magnesium with you in a series of articles over the next few weeks – starting with this one.
The most basic way to understand magnesium is to know that it’s an essential mineral (a macro-mineral) that impacts the function of every single organ system in the body, especially your heart, and is required for good health. Magnesium is one of one of the six essential minerals that must be supplied in the diet (as we cannot manufacture them on our own). The other five major minerals are calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorous and chloride.
Magnesium helps to keep the Heart Rhythm Steady!
Without sufficient magnesium stores, we can experience a range of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, irritability, brain fog, high blood pressure, restless legs, muscle twitches, and (you guessed it!) irregular heartbeats. Magnesium is also vital for energy, sustaining blood vessels and helping you perform well under stress.
“Magnesium’s role is primarily regulatory. It also allows enzymes to function properly, which in turn enable a vast majority of the body’s chemical reactions. Enzymes are the basis of the body’s ability to function while supporting life”
Magnesium also regulates our electrolyte balance.
This is vital for people with SVT to understand. “Within every cell in the body, a proper balance of mineral content must be maintained. Magnesium’s role in the healthy balance (“homeostasis”) of important minerals such as calcium, sodium and potassium affects the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and heart rhythms.” For many people with SVT, electrolyte imbalance is an episode trigger.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical doctor and naturopath who authored The Magnesium Miracle, outlines the other serious health conditions that prolonged magnesium deficiency can cause or exacerbate. These include liver and kidney disease, asthma, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, osteoporosis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and even cancer.
Yet, despite the importance of magnesium to our health, as many as 80% of people in the U.S. are believed to be magnesium deficient. This is due (in part) to our poor diets (like consuming soda and sugar), but it’s also the result of soil depletion that impacts our produce, pesticides, water treatment and water quality issues, the high stress levels in modern society, and even the ways that we cook and process foods. In late Spring 2018, I will be publishing my second e-guide called The SVT Prevention Diet, which will help explain in more detail the role of magnesium, and the foods to consume and avoid to stop robbing your body of this precious mineral.
Accurately testing for magnesium deficiency can be tricky business. As much as 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones, with about 40% stored in the body’s soft tissues, and only about 1% available in the blood at any point in time. Because base levels of magnesium in the blood stream are essential to survival, the body will pull magnesium from the bones and muscles before it ever lets blood levels drop. For this reason, Dr. Dean and other medial experts argue that symptoms are the primary indicator of magnesium deficiency.
Some specific symptoms of magnesium deficiency that commonly coincide with SVT include; abnormal heart rhythms, constipation, panic attacks, fatigue, depression, hypoglycemia, migraines, muscle cramps, and insomnia. In my early years of SVT tracking, I noticed that many times I would get foot cramps 1-2 days prior to an SVT.
If you have anxiety, times of hyperactivity, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, those may be neurological signs of magnesium deficiency and also common co-symtoms of people with SVT. Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. I discuss the nervous system, nutrients that are needed to help calm the sympathetic nervous system, and ways to calm the vagus nerve in the upcoming SVT Prevention Diet E-guide as well.
Knowing the number of ways that magnesium deficiency can impact our health, especially as it relates to muscle contractions and electrical impulses, it’s no surprise that not having enough magnesium is a major risk factor for SVTs. But don’t panic, magnesium levels can be increased with some special attention to diet and lifestyle changes.
If you’re looking for one quick action you can take to get more magnesium right now, try an Espom salt bath. You’ll be doing your body the double favor of allowing it to absorb magnesium sulfate through your skin, and also taking a quick minute to relax and de-stress. After your bath (or if you can’t take one right now), try sprinkling a few almonds, cashews, or pumpkin seeds over your next meal. Include some green vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard, whole grains, and a tall glass of spring water, and you’ll be well on your way.
I hope that this helps you begin to raise your awareness around magnesium and I look forward to sharing more soon!
Laura, Your SVT Coach