Healing Garden World

By Carolyn Agosta
Copyright 2003, 2011


Chocolate for the Health of It

Do you need chocolate? Then perhaps you need magnesium. Craving chocolate may indicate a magnesium deficiency - as chocolate is high in magnesium. Magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, about 60% in the bone and 40% distributed equally between muscle and non-muscular soft tissue. It's the third most prevalent mineral in bones. Magnesium helps manufacture proteins and it plays a role in the production and transporting of energy by converting blood sugar into energy. It also regulates body temperature. It's even believed that to help prevent heart attack, ease PMS, ease or eliminate night leg cramps, and provide benefits for reducing high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, asthma and kidney stones. Plus magnesium is needed for proper calcium and Vitamin C absorption. It also helps fight tooth decay by binding calcium to tooth enamel. Magnesium is a big deal. To ensure quality of life, the body needs it. In addition to the benefits just mentioned, here are a few more:

Recommended Daily Allowances

The Recommended Daily Allowance is 400 mg (milligrams). (In Canada it is slightly lower.) There are many types of magnesium including malate, citrate, aspartate, gluconate, oxide, and chloride. The first three: malate, citrate, and aspartate, are the most desirable. Ideally you would rotate these, using one type for several months, switching to another, then to another, then switch back to the first.


People with kidney or heart problems should check with their doctor before taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium toxicity is rare except in those with impaired kidney function. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, extremely low blood pressure, extreme muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and heartbeat irregularity. If you are taking magnesium and have any of these symptoms, stop using the magnesium and consult doctor immediately. Toxic symptoms from increased magnesium intake are not common because the body eliminates excess amounts.

Substance interactions

Vitamins A, E and K may decrease the absorption of magnesium. Take note that magnesium reduces the absorption of some antibiotics.

Deficiency Symptoms

A deficiency of magnesium may is serious business. It could result in calcium depletion, heart spasms, nervousness, muscular excitability, confusion, kidney stones, and loose teeth. As if that isn't enough, it can also cause nausea, muscle weakness, irritability, and electrical changes in the heart muscle, confusion and delirium.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can occur if the calcium in the diet is inadequate. The symptoms include muscle weakness, fatigue, hyper-excitability and sleeplessness. Deficiency of magnesium can occur in alcoholics or people whose food is grown in magnesium-deficient soil. Magnesium absorption is decreased in people who have undergone surgery, who have had serious burns, or who have problems with mal-absorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract). Having digestive problems can worsen the deficiency as the body is unable to process food properly and consequently food is over or under processed.

Deficiency symptoms can be categorized into three segments:

Going back to chocolate, chocolate cravings are common as magnesium deficiencies are wide spread in the North America - a result of our food growing techniques, our food processing and our diet choices. This mineral is normally abundant in nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables. Unfortunately, our grains, originally high in magnesium, are refined which removes the outer fibrous coat that contains magnesium, zinc, and other minerals. In addition, as we consume more sugar and alcohol urinary excretion (peeing) of magnesium increases, leading to a magnesium deficit. The body loses magnesium due to excessive calcium intake, stress, prescription asthma drugs, diuretics (diet or water pills), some cardiovascular medications, alcohol and caffeine. Sugar depletes vitamins and minerals in our body. Most diabetics are deficient in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, possibly due to their body's reduced ability to absorb nutrients.

Preparing Foods To Retain Vitamins

In order to retain the vitamins (including magnesium) in most vegetables, cook foods in a minimal amount of water and for the shortest period of time. Steaming for a brief time so that the vegetables retain their crispness means you are getting more of the goodies (vitamins and minerals) from them. Baking and broiling or poaching is preferable for preparing seafood. Cook it until it is just done - or if you're brave and you love sushi, cook it to medium so the inside is warm. (While this is what I do, there are all sorts of warnings and precautions about under cooking fish and meats. So make your own choices about this.) Grilling meat allows the fat to drip off of the meat and not end up in you.

Some Final Notes

To maintain a balanced level of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, eat a variety of foods. Variety is not only the spice of life, it's what your body wants. Eating the same food does not bring balance in our lives. Mother Earth provides us with a rich source of delicious foods. Try them. Next time you're taking your sweetie to a restaurant to celebrate, try some place different like Thai, Vietnamese, or Japanese. Or if that's your steady diet already, try a steak house or seafood place. Add some spice (and spices) to your life! When you go to the grocery store, try a new vegetable. Ask the grocer for suggestions on cooking. Or go on-line and find a new recipe. My husband continues to be surprised by what I am cooking and what he is eating. Try something new!

Maintain the desirable weight for you - not according to an image you saw of some anorexic woman or pumped up man. You know the weight that feels comfortable to you - where you feel good, have energy, and like what you see in the mirror . your mirror, not someone else's. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12? And that Fred Astaire was a skinny as a rail? Valentino was no muscle man and women swooned over him. Now granted these folks are well before my time (smile) and they are great reminders that people come in all sizes and shapes. Quit reading fashion magazines, you'll like yourself more! And that's the key, liking you. Make yourself your reference point rather than someone else's image of what you "should" look like.

It's always a good idea to avoid too much fat and avoid saturated fat and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Eating foods with adequate fiber keeps things running smoothly in the digestion department. Avoid sugar, especially processed sugar. And it's actually a good idea to avoid all sugars as sugar wreaks havoc with one's metabolism. Try the sweetener Stevia which allows your metabolism to stay in balance. If you haven't heard of it, your sweet tooth is in for a treat. Watch your sodium. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. And if you drink sodas, all you have to do is read any medical article about the problems and dangers of soda. Create desserts that are interesting and exciting and different.

Whole Foods and other food websites have great recipes that can help you avoid sugars and butters and learn to cook with ease and grace using healthy ingredients. And then there's chocolate . rich, dark, organic chocolate. Yum!

Websites to visit for healthy eating:

Moderation and variety are the keys to good health even if the variety includes chocolate!

--- October, 2003
--- Revised and updated November, 2011