Although lack of exercise, stress, poor posture and repetitive work habits could all be culprits in neck muscle knotting, you might consider your nutritional intake as well. With the decline of vitamin and mineral content in foods due to growing methods and processing, you could experience deficiencies in vital minerals such as magnesium. The fourth most plentiful mineral in the body, magnesium plays a role in over 300 processes, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, ODS. Consult your physician before making any changes to your diet, supplement regimen or if your neck muscle knots persist.
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Magnesium and Muscles
Though approximately 50 percent of magnesium is found in the bones, the rest primarily exists in the soft tissues and muscles, says the ODS. One of the main purposes of magnesium is to promote healthy muscle and nerve function. Within some nerve cells, magnesium acts as a “gate blocker” that prevents calcium from coming in and activating the nerves. This process allows muscles to remain relaxed.
Recommended Daily Allowances
Without an intake of at least 410 to 420 milligrams per day for adult males, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and 320 to 360 mg/day for adult females, muscle function could decline, resulting in fatigue, knots and cramps. The elderly should also pay particular attention to magnesium intake and even consult a physician about supplementation, as some medications including, diuretics, antibiotics and cancer drugs can interfere with its absorption.
Oral supplementation is one way to increase your stored magnesium, reduce the risk of deficiency and improve muscle problems, according to Michael B. Schachter M.D., director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in New York. Dr. Schachter also advises patients to be aware of what they’re getting in a supplement, paying particular attention to the levels of actual milligrams per serving of elemental magnesium as opposed to the milligrams of the entire complex that may contain other ingredients like amino acids. While most dietary forms of magnesium don't have any adverse side effects at dosages under 1000 mg a day, some pharmacological and magnesium salts can cause toxicity if levels get too high. Symptoms of a magnesium overdose include, nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, extremely low blood pressure and difficulty breathing, according to the ODS.
Relationship to Calcium
Calcium to magnesium ratio also affects your body’s ability to absorb magnesium efficiently, says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of “The Magnesium Miracle.” She believes that a number of health conditions, including musculoskeletal problems, are caused by a magnesium deficiency. The majority of the US population consumes a 6 to 1 ratio of calcium and magnesium when it should be closer to 2 to 1.
Magnesium and Food
Magnesium is found in a variety of foods, such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and most dairy products. Specifically, raw pumpkin seeds, spinach, soy beans, salmon and sunflower seeds are considered some of the most magnesium rich. The ODS suggests that eating these foods will help to maintain normal magnesium levels. If you are mildly deficient in magnesium, you could restore levels to normal by increasing your intake of these kinds of foods. Dr. Dean says that green drinks can also be a good source of the vital mineral.