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Waking Up to Global Heating: Insomnia, Climate Change, & Magnesium

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Every day myriad stories about “global heating” appear and sound alarms. They each deliver their own tone to a haunting and stomach-churning message.

We are hastily taking evolution for ourselves (and countless millions of other species) in a different direction than a Charles Darwin might have imagined or envisioned.

One such story struck me today while doing my usual health-focused Internet meanderings.

Studying the balance between the “rest and digest” nervous system (parasympathetic) and the “fight-flight-freeze” (3F – sympathetic), I dug deeper into the rabbit hole of the vastly critical mineral for virtually all life, magnesium. The article titled “Going to the roots of reduced magnesium dietary intake: A tradeoff between climate changes and sources” appeared. A graphic and key paragraph from the Italian 2020 study stood out for me (text is noted below and link to graphic is here).

Little imagination is required to connect the dots to appreciate how magnesium depletion in our soil—and in our food of roughly 25% (Rosanoff, 2013)—might impact human and global plant and animal health. (It is also now estimated that the standard diet in the U.S. meets only 50% of the recommended daily allowance and that 75% of the population is consuming a magnesium-deficient diet (Uwitonze & Razzaque, 2018)).

“Several factors derived from climate changes, such as water scarcity, soil waterlogging, elevated CO2 and elevated temperature, impact directly plant nutrition and physiology. In particular, the CO2-induced increase of growth rates and soil acidity has promoted significant losses of Mg in the soil. In addition, climate change has different effects on plant physiology at the level of molecular function, developmental processes, and morphological traits” (Cazzola et al., 2020). 

While innumerable minds have inquired into what it might take to change our catastrophic climate course, I have one quirky proposal I bet no one has considered. The idea was stimulated by the 2018 Time magazine article “Why We Keep Ignoring Even the Most Dire Climate Change Warnings.” In short, it turns out that certain human cultures collectively, stubbornly, and ignorantly delay action and choose short-term comfort over long-term vitals (Kluger, 2018). Apparently, the threat is either not perceived or it is believed to have today no noticeable quality of life impact.

Here’s the leap. The top two world carbon polluters are China and the United States, which together contribute more than that of the next eight polluters combined (Boden et al., 2017).

So, what short-term immediate comfort might speak to a large number of people in China and the U.S.? How about, will we get a good night’s rest or sleep tonight? When one in three in the United States and in China, respectively 70 million and about 400 million (Cao et al., 2017), will have trouble sleeping tonight, the tie to a magnesium imbalance or deficiency can easily be drawn.

Consider then or form what could be called the “magnesium link” that our insomnia could very well be the “wake up” call that it is not time to doze off.


Boden, T. A., Marland, G., & Andres, R. J. (2017). National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2014, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017

Cao, X. L., Wang, S. B., Zhong, B. L., Zhang, L., Ungvari, G. S., Ng, C. H., Li, L., Chiu, H. F., Lok, G. K., Lu, J. P., Jia, F. J., Xiang, Y. T. (2017). The prevalence of insomnia in the general population in China: A meta-analysis. PloS one, 12(2), e0170772. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170772

Cazzola, R., Della Porta, M., Manoni, M., Iotti, S., Pinotti, L., Maier, J. A. (2020). Going to the roots of reduced magnesium dietary intake: A tradeoff between climate changes and sources. Heliyon, 6(11), e05390. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05390

Kluger, J. (2018, October 8). Why We Keep Ignoring Even the Most Dire Climate Change Warnings. Time. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://time.com/5418690/why-ignore-climate-change-warnings-un-report/

Rosanoff, A. (2013). Changing crop magnesium concentrations: Impact on human health. Plant soil 368, 139–153. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-012-1471-5

Uwitonze, A., & Razzaque, M. (2018). Role of magnesium in vitamin D activation and function. Journal of osteopathic medicine, 118(3), 181-189. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2018.037 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29480918/