Our Mineral Deficient Soil?

(Central Florida Bob ) #1

How many times have you read that we need to take various mineral supplements because our soils are depleted of minerals? I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read that we need magnesium because our soils are deficient. But magnesium is in every molecule of chlorophyll, and if there was no magnesium in the green parts of the plants they’d make no energy and die, so there must be magnesium there. It’s true you won’t see it if the plant has some other coloration, like purple lettuces for example, but if there’s no chlorophyll the plant won’t grow. Something like Romaine lettuce, though, the darker green it is, the more magnesium it has.

So I decided to try to find some source that tells me current and older magnesium levels. I couldn’t find it. Here are some notes I took, in hopes that someone else will find it interesting.

Magnesium is the 7th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust

and is a major rock forming element
Very common in clays.

Magnesium in soils is lost easier in acidic (low pH) soils than in basic soils.

Magnesium supplementation in fertilizers is emphasized on lots of sites, probably because of its role in chlorophyll.

Scientific American 2011

cites December 2004 paper in Journal of American College of Nutrition

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

Note that those “reliable declines” don’t include magnesium, and they’re attributed to breeding varieties of plants for growing big (ready to harvest) crops quickly, not the soil being deficient.

“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals.

As close as I got to showing the soils are low in Mg is that they thought it was possible but had no measurements to compare it to.

(Jane) #2

I add Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to my vegetable garden if I notice the leaves fading or turning yellow. It really helps to darken the leaves and the plants look healthier.

(Central Florida Bob ) #3

I took a jr. college botany class long ago, and the prof. recommended that. We have some Epsom salt around the house just for that.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

Let’s assume that magnesium is present in the grasses that ruminants eat. And probably in sufficient quantities to be be healthy and nutritious for the ruminants whatever their nutritional needs may be regarding magnesium. This based on the simple observation that for the most part healthy grass is green.

Let’s further assume that cows are the primary source of magnesium for us fat/meat eaters since we don’t eat the primary sources in sufficient amounts to matter. I seriously doubt that a couple leaves of Romaine are going to make any contribution. A magnesium diffieciently can result from one of two or both causes: either the ruminant/cow is magnesium dificient because he/she has not been fed sufficient live, fresh grass to provide sufficient magnesium or subsequent meat processing has removed it. The meat can be tested to measure the actual magnesium content. Or, I’m either not eating enough ruminant/cow meat to get sufficient magnesium and/or something is lacking in me that prevents my extraction and utilization of magnesium from the meat I eat.

In my case of frequent, painful and debilitating night/morning leg cramps, something is wrong with my magnesium balance and/or content. Possibly other nutrients as well. In my quest to resolve the problem I have a question for those of you who are carnivore - or even ‘close-to’ carnivore, and thus have a higher intake of ruminant/cow meat than I - do any of you suffer frequent, painful and debilitating night/morning leg cramps?


I am on/off carnivore-ish but I try to be close to it as much as possible and I get better as time passes.

Magnesium is the only thing I ever realized I have problems with. I felt quite healthy on all woe in my life (good enough genes and being young surely mattered a lot, I had to do it better for my healthy future) but I did had cramps on keto. They were very predictable and magnesium pills always quickly solved the problem.

My original diets (HCHF, later LCHF. little to no meat): No cramps or other noticeable problems due to my diet except I (probably often massively) overate and very, very slowly gained fat.
I never supplemented anything except in very tiny amounts just to make a bad drinking water better. But it wasn’t significant. I just ate a ton so I got plenty of nutrients I suppose…

Vegetarian keto: cramps happened around the time when I reached ketosis. I did on/off keto, I went into ketosis hundreds of time and I always (or nearly always, I didn’t focus on it THAT much) got the cramps soon after I came back to keto - unless I supplemented magnesium. One pill occasionally did the trick, I just can’t supplement anything regularly, never needed it.

Carnivore: no cramps ever while it seems I don’t eat more magnesium - of course, I can merely look up data about food, no one can tell if my actual food has a lot to do with the data… I suppose magnesium is one example where my needs change on carnivore (or close to it), we know it happens with Vitamin C, maybe magnesium is similar? But maybe my food has more magnesium without me knowing.

So I was fine and crampless on carnivore - except when my meat intake was very low for a while, the cramps quickly returned then (it didn’t happen often, only in the earlier times). So meat helps me with magnesium too, it seems. My average is below 1 pound a day and it’s enough. I didn’t notice that the kind of meat would matter (probably lots of cured meat wouldn’t be great for many reasons but that has no chance anyway) but I usually eat similarly… I mostly eat pork along with my precious eggs and I barely eat ruminants.

(Central Florida Bob ) #6

I’m not sure where I first heard this, but I’m guessing it was Dr. Ballerstedt - the Ruminati. He said, meat offers concentrated sources of minerals like potassium and magnesium but if you look up sources of those you never see animal products, just vegetables. He said when those tables of values were being set up, those were expensive tests and they simply never bothered to test animals.

It’s the vegetarian bias inherent in the system.

Might be a little harder to explain the banana thing. If you ask people about a good source of potassium, they always say “eat a banana”, but an avocado is just as good, if not better.

(Bob M) #7

There are also a lot of data for other elements, such as selenium and zinc. Here is one about selenium in soils:

Here is one with a correlation between selenium content of local soils and covid:

I think cramps are complex. Michael, have you tried pickle juice?

I still get cramps…sometimes. But I’m getting less right now. I’m using Mg oil on my legs and higher salt and potassium intake. Hard to tell what that does, though.

(Bob M) #8

I guess there are some studies looking at Mg in meat:

They use mg/kg, which I guess is OK, but that’s a lot of meat to eat. Only pork and chicken.

This is an interesting one for beef:

I would not expect this:

Grilled, roasted and fried bovine meat was characterised by a higher content (by 6-26%) of most studied minerals (except sodium) as compared to raw meat.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #9

Judging from the selected numbers below, it doesn’t look possible to come even close to the RDAs of either potassium or magnesium without supplementing.

From here:

Table 1: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Potassium* [11]

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 400 mg 400 mg
7–12 months 860 mg 860 mg
1–3 years 2,000 mg 2,000 mg
4–8 years 2,300 mg 2,300 mg
9–13 years 2,500 mg 2,300 mg
14–18 years 3,000 mg 2,300 mg 2,600 mg 2,500 mg
19–50 years 3,400 mg 2,600 mg 2,900 mg 2,800 mg
51+ years 3,400 mg 2,600 mg

Table 2: Potassium Content of Selected Foods [13]

Food mg per serving % Daily Value*
Apricots, dried ½ cup 1101 23
Prunes, dried ½ cup 699 15
Raisins ½ cup 618 13
Potato, baked, flesh only, 1 medium 610 13
Orange juice 1 cup 496 11
Banana, 1 medium 422 9
Chicken breast, boneless, grilled 3 ounces 332 7
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked 3 ounces 326 7
Beef, top sirloin, grilled 3 ounces 315 7
Turkey breast, roasted 3 ounces 212 5
Tuna, light, canned in water, drained 3 ounces 153 3


Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium [1]

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 30 mg* 30 mg*
7–12 months 75 mg* 75 mg*
1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg
4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg

Table 2: Magnesium Content of Selected Foods [10]

Food mg per serving % Daily Value
Pumpkin seeds, roasted 1 ounce 156 37
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 6
Halibut, cooked 3 ounces 24 6
Avocado, cubed ½ cup 22 5
Chicken breast, roasted3 ounces 22 5
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled 3 ounces 20 5

(Bob M) #10

Very interesting comparison.

Although I can easily eat 2 pounds of meat per day. For top sirloin (kinda lean, though), that’s over the required potassium content.

The magnesium is more problematic, though.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #11

This is interesting from my perspective:

Aussie Trace Minerals

Nutrition facts here - and here (per 20 drops - my single ‘dose’): Magnesium - 102mg

I’m taking 3 doses per day regularly and frequently 4 doses. So at 4 doses I’d get pretty much my RDA of magnesium. I’ve been doing this for about month or so, but cramp frequency/intensity hasn’t changed. Maybe it just takes longer - or something else needs fixing, like potassium. Since French’s NoSalt disappeared from my local grocery shelves a year ago, I have not supplemented potassium salt. So that’s next.

I also consume on the order of 12 -15 grams of Himalayan pink salt daily. However, according to spectral analysis of a typical sample displayed here I’m getting negligible amounts of potassium and magnesium from it.

(Central Florida Bob ) #12

Those tables are kind of puzzling. They list 9 different “Adequate Intake” levels by age for each sex plus another couple for pregnant and lactating, 24 intake levels, then for sources they list one value for “% of daily value”. For which group? What about the other 23 groups of people?

Anyway, I’m suspicious of RDA values because of the way they seem to vary based on diet. I think it’s all we have, though.

Unless I’m mis-remembering, I think you’re in the males over 51 categories. The only listing for beef is that burger on the bottom of the list, 3 ounces at 20mg. You’d need 21 of those, or 63 ounces of beef. If those numbers matter at all.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #13

I selected from the full tables, so if you go to the links you will see the full list of what they have there.

As for RDA values, I share your skepticism. I suspect they are calculated (however that’s done) for folks eating SAD. As we have determined here on the forums, those of us eating keto may or may not share the same RDA values for nutrients. Specific nutrient for example being Vitamin C. Few of us eating keto come close to the RDA, yet apparently suffer no deficiency of it.

I agree whole-heatedly if they’re going to break down RDA by groups based on age/sex, then they also need to calculate the % of adequate intake for each in the nutrient table.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #14

So can I. My first foray into keto was several years prior to my current. Don’t recall exactly, but likely 2010-11 time frame. I stuck with it only a couple of years primarily because I ate lots of meat. And bankrupted myself doing so. I’m sure I could have eaten more smartly at less cost, but here in Vancouver meat is expensive. So this time around I’m trying to eat more smartly, less meat but still substantial, and other low/no carb alternatives. So far I’m doing OK.

(Bacon is better) #15

You’ve pretty much covered the field (so to speak), but as far as soil conservation goes, check out the work of Alan Savory, Peter Ballerstedt, and Joel Salatin.

I’d be wary of assuming automatically that our needs are different on a ketogenic diet, but data show that it is true in certain cases: vitamin C, vitamin D, and thyroid hormones are definite or possible examples (the research on thyroid is particularly iffy, even for carb-burners; I think we have probably only scratched the surface of understanding how the thyroid hormones actually work). It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suspect that this may be the case for other minerals and vitamins, but please be wary of making a blanket assumption. Back your beliefs with data, please.

As far as magnesium goes, every single molecule of chlorophyll contains a magnesium atom at its heart. How bioavailable that magnesium may be to human beings is a question, but if it’s green, it contains magnesium, and the darker the green, the more magnesium. It makes sense to believe that all the magnesium that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and geese eat probably makes its way into their flesh, but it’s not expected to be present in flesh foods, so it’s not measured (vitamin C the same, by the way, except that there is evidence that meat actually does contain vitamin C, even though no one generally cares to measure it). So it’s an open question, just how much magnesium gets into our bodies from our food. Except that it is not unreasonable to expect it to do so.

(David Cooke) #16

It’s OK, Bill Gates wants us to exploit every square meter of soil for vegetables and grains, the warehouses are full of chemical fertilisers.

(Butter Withaspoon) #17

I’m another person who looks to chlorophyll and can’t imagine that Mg isn’t present, with what I understand of biology. I eat a mix of cooked and raw greens from my garden, or anyones garden if the sun has gone down /jk to hedge my bets.

(Bob M) #18

Mg is really not there, for a lot of places. Just listened to this:


Right at the beginning of this, they discuss how Michigan soils have such low Mg that they have to supplement the cattle’s diet with Mg. Unfortunately, they didn’t get into this that much, as it was more of background about the person being interviewed (Jason Rowntree).

They also have some metric of the soil health (can’t remember it now), and soils that grow vegetables are like 1-2 on that metric, whereas healthy soils (from animals) should be 10 or more. Jason Rowntree seemed like he was anti-growing of crops like vegetables.

(I listen to the podcast, as I don’t have time to watch videos.)

(Bacon is better) #19

Alan Savory and Peter Ballerstedt have a lot to say on how ruminants improve soil quality.

In the U.S., the problem is factory farming. Back in the old days, farmers kept a herd of cattle in one field, grew crops in another, and let a third one rest. By rotating the fields each year, they kept the land productive and fertile, with no need for fertilizer and no manure disposal problem, either.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #20

Those ‘old days’ weren’t all that long ago either. My mom’s family maintained a dairy farm in Michigan’s UP. They had a herd of about 50 cows that rotated between pastures that they then used to grow both hay and vegetable crops for market. I spent the summer of my 12th year (1957) working on the farm. My grandparents maintained this farm into the 70’s until they no longer could do so due to age and health.