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The Truth about Magnesium & Nickel Allergies

Many of us learn of our systemic nickel allergies because we eat or ate an abundance of oatmeal, leafy greens, beans, nuts or other foods high in nickel. It’s unfortunate that so many foods higher in nickel are also considered healthy, super foods and contain key nutrients and minerals that we can’t regularly eat. It’s even more challenging to ensure our diet is as balanced as possible when eating a restricted diet. 

Well known as the “invisible deficiency” the majority of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. Some of the reasons why magnesium deficiencies are so common involve modern farming techniques depleting the amount of magnesium, zinc and other essential minerals from our soil. Additionally nearly all our municipal water contains fluoride which binds to magnesium making it harder for our bodies to absorb the magnesium we may ingest. The amount of iron and fiber can aid our retention of magnesium, whereas eating a diet high in refined sugars and being stressed can make us more prone to being magnesium deficient.

When the majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium, what does that mean for those of us eating a low nickel diet?

Magnesium is “a mineral the body needs for normal muscles, nerves, and bones. It also helps keep a steady heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, normal blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and is involved in making energy and protein for the body. Magnesium is found in some foods, including green vegetables, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and whole grains” [1].

It’s frightening when my legs or feet go numb, to the point that I might suddenly lose my balance. When I experience numbness in my hands or feet, I typically assume it’s related to having raynaud’s or low blood sugar. However numbness can also be related to being deficient in magnesium. Other signs of a magnesium deficiency can include leg cramps, nerve issues, muscle pain, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, memory issues and craving chocolate.

Many foods higher in magnesium, like spinach, nuts, figs, legumes and chocolate, are also higher in nickel. Supplements can help with deficiencies. I caution relying on supplements because they’re not regulated in the US, they can contain heavy metals and manufacturers aren’t required to disclose ingredients used. Lastly, taking supplements long term can cause other unintended consequences and it’s advised to consult your physician.

So what’s the alternative to regularly eating magnesium rich foods that are higher in nickel or taking magnesium supplements?

Some foods lower in nickel but  higher in magnesium include swiss chard, eggs, bananas, kiwi, papaya, blackberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, tuna, halibut and quinoa. In addition, vitamin D can increase your body’s absorption of magnesium.

Our skin can also absorb magnesium. Bathing in an Epsom salt bath is not only great for atopic dermatitis, but is a fantastic form of stress relief. Wellness Mama Katie Wells writes extensively about magnesium. She shares a do it yourself magnesium oil spray recipe you can use as a simple cheap alternative.

What about you? Have you experienced signs of having a magnesium deficiency? Perhaps after you’ve started to eat the low nickel diet? Or do you have tips on ways you get more magnesium in your diet? I’d love to hear your story in the comment section below!

[1]National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/

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