I just read the article by the WLS advocate, Kaye Bailey, titled “Magnesium Deficiency Causes Personality Change and WLS Patients are at Risk” and I decided to make that the topic of this blog.
In that article she described a distinct personality change in herself – feeling that she’d lost her mind. Here is an excerpt:
“Have you ever felt like you were completely losing your mind? Like the world was swallowing you up and little things were out of your control and unmanageable? Like you were confused, tired, out of sorts and simply wanted to collapse?”
She later quotes from Dr. Bernard Jensen’s Guide to Body Chemistry & Nutrition”:
“I want to point out here that the classical deficiency symptoms for magnesium include neuromuscular signs, such as tremors, weakness, muscle spasms and irregular heartbeat; gastrointestinal signs such as nausea and vomiting; and personality changes that display confusion, apprehensiveness and depression. In the “old days” people with magnesium deficiency were often (mistakenly) taken to mental institutions because they acted so radically different that they literally seemed to be mentally ill.”
I had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in March of 2000. Approximately 18-24 months after surgery – after the “honeymoon period”, symptoms such as anxiety – a feeling like something wasn’t right but I didn’t know what it was overcame me. As time went by these symptoms got worse, and I had no idea why. I began to start snacking – “grazing” if you will, to take this “edge” off. I call it, feeling “like a shark in shallow waters” – kind of that feeling when you stare at the pantry or fridge – know you want or need something, but don’t know what it is.
More time went by with no relief. Symptoms had progressed to these feelings of panic where my heart would just begin to race – frequently on my drive home from work – what I would come to call “panic attacks”. For no apparent reason at all (or so it seemed) my heart would just start racing. It also became difficult for me to concentrate and focus. I was no longer able to follow an hour long TV program, read a novel, then could no longer follow a half-hour program, had difficulty balancing my checkbook (and I had it set up in Excel – which I had designed and programmed myself before). My favorite was (and remains) the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and I knew something was really wrong when I couldn’t follow an entire show. By this time, I also had developed swelling on my calves and small bruises all over that were unexplained.
Years went by with little relief and another trip to the ER, this time with a resting heartrate of 165 bpm. By simple serendipity I followed up with a family doctor who also happened to have had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. It took him all of sixty seconds of hearing my story and looking at my medical history (he actually did read it) – and told me that I was likely deficient in magnesium (called hypomagnesaemia). Added to the research I had already begun to do, it made a lot of sense.
We went over the supplements I was already taking – added some that he thought I should add including the magnesium. I then began researching and reading about magnesium and was astonished I hadn’t heard of this before. I started taking magnesium oxide but quickly learned that it was only about 4% absorbable in a normal stomach. I’ve since switched to magnesium taurate and I also squirt magnesium oil on my skin for transdermal absorption. Some of the other forms of magnesium can give you a little condition well – let’s just say you spend a lot of time in the bathroom.
I haven’t had a single “panic attack” since!
If you are interested in additional information regarding magnesium, there is a great book called “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr. Carolyn Dean. It explains that a serum blood test for magnesium really won’t tell you very much about your overall magnesium levels, as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in the blood and 40% is in the tissues. The EXAtest is one of the magnesium testing methods the book discusses and it is a test that gives information about the levels of magnesium in the heart and muscle cells. The book also goes into great detail explaining the effect magnesium deficiency has on cardiovascular health, diabetes and obesity, PCOS, Osteoporosis and kidney stones as well as cholesterol and high blood pressure. There are many other great sources of information out there as well, this just happens to be one of the books I’ve read.
I’ve since discovered, this hasn’t just happened to me. On the gastric bypass surgery and obesity online forums – there were numerous postings of people who had discovered they were magnesium deficient – and chronicled how they were able manage it and whether magnesium supplementation improved their symptoms.
I’ve included the links to the sources I’ve used :