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Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium Deficiency 0

The American diet is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats but it is commonly poor in magnesium (Mg). Additionally, most supplements of vitamins and minerals, that are taken by many to assure adequate nutrition, provide Mg in only minimal amounts, if at all. Mg is a mineral that is essential for health in optimal quantities if we are to obtain full benefit from the foods we eat and from the supplements we take. Mg is needed by our bodies to activate numerous enzymes that control metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and electrolytes; to assist in the utilization of other essential minerals, including calcium (Ca) and to build the nucleic acids and our body’s proteins from the amino acids provided by the proteins found in food. Without adequate Mg, energy production falters and proteins cannot be produced in sufficient quantity for normal growth and development of infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women. Mg also is important in repair of wear and tear of everyday living, in maintaining resistance to infection, in protecting against cardiovascular, kidney, and bone disease and in meeting the excess needs caused by emotional or physical stress.


On a milligram per kilogram (mg/kg) of lean body weight basis, women have been shown to need 4.5-5 mg/kg/day and men to need at least 6 mg/kg/day to remain in Mg balance as determined by analysis of metabolic balance studies done worldwide.These studies disclosed that, on marginal intakes, there was a better retention of Mg by young women than by young men. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, National Academies of Science, have long estimated that the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Mg intakes (an amount estimated as enough to prevent diseases associated with Mg deficiency) are 300 mg/day for women and 350/day for men.The RDA for Mg was increased to 310-320 mg/day for women and 400-420 mg/day for men in the 1997 edition, entitled Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), 4 in which new dietary categories were developed, including Tolerable Upper Limits (UL). The UL designates supplemental amounts estimated to result in adverse effects if habitually exceeded. The Mg UL was limited to avoid diarrhea in unduly vulnerable subjects. The ULs for Ca, phosphate and vitamin D, high intakes of which interfere with Mg utilization (see below), were increased substantially more than was the UL for Mg.


Optimal Mg intakes are amounts that maintain normal functioning of the body and prevent disorders treatable with Mg supplements. Research, done throughout the world, shows that the original RDA for Mg is not even sufficient to assure compensation for the amount lost in excreta and sweat, in the presence of even minor physical or mental exertion or competition, aggravation or other stresses, all of which increase Mg requirements 5-8 (see below). Even for adults living non-stressful, not particularly active lives, it is not enough merely to maintain Mg balance, which is the term used to describe the equilibrium between Mg intake and output. The amount actually consumed from self-selected diets, as shown in the United States 9-14, Europe15-18 and Asia19-21 is less than the RDA, and is far less than the amount shown to be required to maintain equilibrium in metabolic balance studies.1, 2,10,32 No one can afford to lose more Mg than is provided by the diet. When that happens, the person is in negative Mg balance. This means that, in order to maintain normal vital functions, the Mg that is already in the body that is serving to activate enzymes, to maintain energy and normal electrolyte levels in the cells, as well as to form healthy structures, is drawn upon, with the result that some tissues are broken down to meet the demands of organs needed to sustain life.

The higher figures for the RDA established in 1997 might be closer to optimal amounts of Mg, being estimated as the amounts needed to prevent damage to the body and to maintain health. All tissues are at risk of malfunction and/or physical injury when Mg levels are low; they include the heart, arteries, kidneys, bones, hormones, muscles, nerves, brain, skin and the gastrointestinal organs. Chronic or long-term Mg deficiency is contributory to development of many disorders and diseases.8 Treatment of these illnesses can intensify the problem because many medications increase Mg loss. When the deficiency is acute and severe, it can cause seizures or rapid, irregular heart beats (arrhythmias) that can prove fatal. Which disorders develop will depend upon one’s hereditary predisposition.22-24 Some families are prone to high blood pressure and other types of cardiovascular disease, some to kidney stones, some to bone thinning, chronic fatigue, muscle cramping, nervousness and some types of severe, recurrent headaches – in all of which subnormal Mg levels have been encountered and increased Mg intakes have proven helpful.

Positive Mg balance is achieved when the body retains some of the Mg that is consumed, rather than eliminating an amount equal to the amount ingested and absorbed. The retained Mg participates in building healthy new tissue, a state that is called anabolism. This is the condition found in pregnant and nursing mothers, in those who have not reached full growth and maturation and in athletes who are developing their musculature. It is also the state of people recovering from an illness, surgery, or accidental trauma. A positive Mg balance indicates that this vital mineral is being used in the formation of the proteins of muscles, whether of our limbs, heart, arteries, kidneys and hormones. Mg is also necessary to form normal bones – to convert vitamin D to one of the hormones needed for utilization of Ca 25-27, which is the major structural component of bone. Less widely considered is the role of Mg in forming the organic portion of bone (bone matrix) that prevents brittleness and protects against fractures.

To attain positive Mg balance, its daily intake must be optimal – adequate to meet special requirements. The amount needed by those undergoing growth and development, repair or participating in strenuous exercise is greater than the amount needed by adults living sedentary lives. Even the recently increased RDAs are unlikely to be optimal for individuals with such special needs. Adolescent boys and girls, especially those engaged in athletics, can require as much as 7-10 mg/kg/day. Pregnant women, particularly those with more than one fetus, those who have undergone frequent pregnancies, or who themselves have not attained full growth, have high Mg requirements – at least 450 mg/day or possibly up to 15 mg/kg/day.29 Growing and developing infants and children are also in need of high daily intakes of Mg.

Calcium, Phosphate and Vitamin D

Mg intakes have fallen slightly over the twentieth century in the United States, but the Ca/Mg dietary ratio, which was about 2/1 in the first quarter of the century, has risen and the RDAs for Ca and vitamin D (the vitamin that increases Ca absorption) have been increased. These are nutrients that have been shown to interfere with Mg retention yet require Mg for their normal utilization. Phosphate intake has also risen as a result of its addition to processed foods and soft drinks and this also interferes with Mg absorption.31 The RDAs for Ca and phosphate are given as 1000 mg/day each in the 1997 book that raised the RDA for Mg to a lesser degree.4 The tolerable upper level (UL) for Ca is given as 2500 mg, for phosphate as 3500 mg and for vitamin D as 2000 units. However, the UL for Mg supplements is limited to 350 Mg, which, added to that in food and water, might increase the daily Mg intake to about 650 mg. For those accepting the upper limit as desirable, unphysiological Ca/Mg ratios can result. The high tolerable upper limit for Ca, phosphate, and vitamin D can intensify Mg deficiency.

Carefully done human metabolic studies have verified that high Ca/Mg and phosphate/Mg dietary intakes (within the limits of usual diets and below the ULs cited by the Food and Nutrition Board) have been shown to cause negative Mg balance. Compilation and analysis of early extensive Mg balance studies of normal young adults showed that at Mg intakes below 5 mg/kg/day, negative balances of both Mg and Ca develop when Ca intakes are not particularly high.1, 32 On Mg intakes below 300 mg/day, Mg balances were consistently either negative or barely in balance at Ca intakes of 1 g/day. At 5-6 mg/kg/day of Mg, Ca intakes below 1 g/day allowed for positive Mg balances, that Ca intakes above 1 g/day diminished. Very high Ca intakes can result in negative Mg balance if Mg intake is low. The Ca balance is positive with high Ca/Mg dietary ratios, but in such a circumstance, the Ca deposition can be in the soft tissues such as the arteries and kidneys, as well as in bone. High Mg intakes do not interfere with Ca retention and improve Ca retention unless Ca intake is very low. This is implemented by the favorable effect Mg has on the hormones that control Ca absorption and its metabolism.

A Ca/Mg ratio of 2/1, provided by the daily Mg intake of 600 mg and a Ca intake of 1200 mg/day was considered suitable for maintenance of health in 1935,30 on the basis of study of the literature then available. The current RDA allowances provide a Ca/Mg ratio of 3/1; the UL allows for 4/1 or higher ratios. Since phosphate excess intensifies Mg loss,31 the high UL for phosphate can aggravate the problem. Until there are definitive data as to optimal intakes under different physiologic and pathologic conditions, Mg intakes should be increased to not less than 6 mg/kg/d for young adults.1,2,16

In a study of elderly men, whose dietary Mg intake was maintained at their customary 250 mg/day and their Ca intake was raised to 1400 mg/day, negative Mg balance developed.33 When their Mg intake was increased to 500 mg, Mg equilibrium was restored. Similarly, a negative Mg balance was produced by increasing their phosphate intake from the close to the RDA level of 975 mg/day to 1500 mg daily – an amount that is common in the American diet and is less than half of the tolerable UL.

An important study of 15 young women, who underwent three consecutive 20 day balance periods, while on a diet that provided RDA levels of Mg (265 to 305 mg), Ca (1008 to 1085 mg), RDA levels of phosphate and which provided a Ca/Mg ratio of 3.7/1, showed that on controlled RDA intakes, they lost about 50 mg of Mg a day.34 The authors considered this to be an indication that not less that 6 mg/kg/day of Mg is needed by young women. They also observed a gradual rise in serum cholesterol, despite low dietary fat intake during the three observation periods. That vitamin D is required for the absorption of Ca is widely recognized, an effect that has been relied upon to prevent rickets in children. High doses are now recommended, along with a high dosage of Ca, to protect against osteoporosis. Excess Vitamin D also raises blood levels of cholesterol.35,36

Fat, Sugar and Alcohol

High levels of fat within the intestine, whether it is derived from fatty foods or intestinal dysfunction, such as steatorrhea, or short bowel, directly interfere with the absorption of both Mg and Ca by formation of indigestible complexes of Mg and/or the Ca with the fat. Excess absorbed fat can lead to high blood cholesterol. Most important are resultant high levels of low density lipoproteincholesterol (LDL-C), which is called a “bad fat,” because it, and the triglycerides, cause atherosclerosis. In contrast, the high density cholesterol (HDL-C) fraction is the “good lipid” because it reduces fat deposition in arteries. HDL-C is low in patients with cardiovascular disease, while the level of LDL-C is high.

Very important is what Mg does to the ratio of HDL-C to LDLC. The observation that Mg supplements increase the HDL-C/LDL-C ratio in the blood of normal subjects and in patients with high blood pressure or with coronary heart disease38-41 is an explanation of one of the benefits of increasing Mg uptake.

High sugar intake, high blood sugar levels common in diabetic patients and moderate alcohol consumption cause renal loss of Mg.42,43 Heavy alcohol drinking causes severe Mg deficiency, not only from the renal loss, but also as a result of poor diet and hormonal disturbances that develop in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, a consequence of chronic alcoholism.


Adequate protein intake is necessary for optimal Mg retention. This was shown in adolescent girls and boys and women on diets that had marginal supplies of Mg and protein. Their Mg balance was improved by increasing their protein intake from low to normal. Diets containing sufficient Mg for growth and development (10-16 mg/kg/day) in adolescent boys resulted in positive balances regardless of the protein intake.44 However, very high protein intakes have been shown to increase the risk of Mg deficiency, when the diets were low or marginal in Mg. This was first shown in infants with protein calorie malnutrition, whose protein deficiency had been repaired without correcting their Mg deficit. They developed cardiac arrhythmias that could terminate fatally in those not provided Mg supplementation.45 Arrhythmias, attributable to loss of Mg, have also been reported as a result of consuming a liquid protein diet for weight reduction,46 an approach to obesity that resulted in what was called “liquid protein mayhem” because it resulted in deaths caused by ventricular arrhythmias.47

Cardiovascular, Renal, Bone Diseases

The diseases receiving most attention as being associated with Mg deficiency are those of the arteries and the heart.8,22 Many experimental studies in laboratory animals have demonstrated that Mg deficiency alone, especially in combination with nutrients that interfere with Mg utilization, causes cardiovascular damage resembling that seen in diseases that afflict mankind. Studies of disease frequency in different parts of the United States, and throughout the world, have disclosed that poor Mg intake from food and/or water is more prevalent in regions where cardiovascular diseases are a greater problem than where Mg intake is high.48 Hard water (containing predominantly Mg) has been found to be protective. The southeast of the United States, where the water is soft and poor in Mg, is known as the “heart disease – kidney stone belt.” In contrast, the north Midwestern states, which have water supplies rich in Mg, have fewer cases of heart disease. Since some hard waters are rich in Ca, its possibly protective effect has also been proposed. However, studies from Finland implicate a Ca/Mg ratio of 4/1 in the very high death rate of middle-aged men from coronary heart disease in that country.49 Because high Ca intake is currently recommended to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, it is noteworthy that the incidence of osteoporosis is very high in Finland, despite lifelong high Ca/Mg intake ratios.48,49 Another clue that high Ca/Mg dietary ratios and nutrients such as vitamin D that increase Ca absorption but intensify cardiovascular damage of Mg deficiency is the increase in cardiovascular disease in Japan, since their diet has become more like the low Mg, high Ca American diet.20 Their earlier low incidence of coronary heart disease was correlated with their low Ca/Mg dietary ratio.49

Physicians have used Mg to treat patients since the first third of the twentieth century, regarding it as a medication, rather than a nutrient, that might protect against manifestations of diseases that respond favorably to its administration. Its use to manage the seizures and high blood pressure of women with toxemia of pregnancy was begun by 1925,50 a use predicated on the early demonstration that experimental Mg deficiency induced convulsions, hypertension and arterial lesions in animals. Mg treatment has been used to control the arrhythmias caused by digitalis treatment of congestive heart failure, an effect that was first reported in Germany in 193551 and in the United States in 1943.52 It is accepted treatment in conditions in which arrhythmias are a risk (in congestive heart failure53-55 and after cardiac surgery56,57) and even in forms of arrhythmia resistant to drug therapy.58 Loss of Mg caused by diuretic drugs used to control edema or hypertension also causes side effects which are manageable by Mg repletion. Poorly controlled diabetic patients are another group long known to have Mg loss59 for whom Mg administration has been helpful.

Syndromes: X, Insulin Resistance,
Cardiovascular Metabolic Disease

Determination of intracellular Mg and Ca levels has provided important insights into the interrelationships of several diseases usually considered quite separate. It has been discovered that resistance to the effects of insulin, previously thought to be a problem only in diabetes, is also found in patients with other metabolic disturbances involving abnormal Mg and Ca levels in their tissues.60-66 Among these disorders are hypertension (with and without heart disease or diabetes), obesity (with and without diabetes), pregnancy complicated by high blood pressure and abnormal processes associated with aging. The existence of insulin resistance in these different conditions has led to the use of encompassing terms such as: syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome and generalized cardiovascular-metabolic disease. Common to them all are subnormal intracellular Mg/Ca ratios. It is thus provocative that Mg deficiency has been directly correlated with development of insulin resistance67 and that Mg supplements have restored responsiveness to insulin. The observation that healthy people, who reach and surpass 100 years of age, have higher total body Mg and lower Ca levels than the usual elderly person,66 suggests an intriguing possibility: might increased Mg allay some of the deleterious processes of aging?

Stress and Neuromuscular Disorders

Stress increases the secretion of adrenalin and corticosteroid hormones. These stress hormones mobilize Mg from the cells and increase its renal excretion. It is paradoxical that Mg inadequacy increases secretion of stress hormones5-7 – a vicious cycle. Might this be why Type A individuals are more prone to heart attacks than are those of a more tranquil disposition? The types of stresses that can increase Mg requirements can be physical (exhausting or competitive exercise, exposure to extremes of temperature, accidental or surgical trauma) or psychological (anger, fear, anxiety, depression, grief, tension). In continental Europe, individuals who complain of such psychological manifestations are often diagnosed as having latent tetany, associated with marginal Mg deficiency.68-70 These patients frequently suffer from pronounced fatigue, leg cramps and recurrent headaches, including migraine, as well as psychological problems. In the United States, where Mg levels are not often determined in seeking an explanation of the complaints that often lead to psychiatric consultation, a comparable disorder is usually diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.70 WHY IS MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY OFTEN MISSED?
Difficulties in Diagnosis

Most of the body’s Mg is within the cells, rather than in the blood plasma or serum, and it is from analysis of serum or plasma levels of minerals that a diagnosis of Mg deficiency is usually made. 71 The kidneys can limit the loss of Mg to very small amounts if plasma levels drop. However, there can be Mg deficiency in the tissues even when plasma levels are normal. When plasma Mg is below what is accepted as the low limit of normal, that is a clear indication of deficiency. Adequacy, however, is not assured by plasma levels that remain within a normal range of values. On request, more information can be provided on the methods of determining Mg levels. The signs of Mg deficiency universally recognized are convulsions and cardiac arrhythmias, but these are signs of severe deficiency. The early arterial lesions (of the linings of the arteries and their muscles) are free of signs, as are early lesions of the heart and kidneys. The neuromuscular signs of nervousness, irritability, anxiety, gastrointestinal symptoms are more often considered manifestations justifying psychiatric care or investigation of intestinal status rather than closer attention paid to the diet. Osteoporosis, accepted as a largely nutritional problem, is treated by increasing mineralization (Ca and vitamin D intakes) without attention to the fact that in Finland, where Ca intake is high and Mg intake is low, both osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are serious problems. 48

Adaptation to Long-Term Low Magnesium Intakes

The difficulty in diagnosing Mg deficiency stems from the unreliability of plasma values and the fact that there are few overt signs of early Mg deficiency – which affect internal tissues that have symptom-free damage. Furthermore, the body has the ability to maintain equilibrium, even when levels of essential nutrients (like Mg) in the body are subnormal. 32,72 The available evidence indicates that it takes varying but usually prolonged periods of time for the body to adjust to changed Mg intakes by retaining amounts needed for optimal functioning.


When the first analysis of Mg intakes and balances in normal young adults32 was published in 1964,1 Mg deficiency was suggested as a neglected factor in vulnerability to heart disease. It was then suggested that an explanation of the lesser risk of young women might be their maintenance of Mg equilibrium on lower intakes. The lower rates of cardiovascular diseases in men in the East than the West was deemed attributable in part to higher mg/kg/day Mg intakes in the Orient (from diets comprised largely of soy products, vegetables and fish) than in occidental countries. More cardiovascular disease, however, has become a problem in countries such as Japan and in some areas in China, where the diet has changed. 20,76-80 A high sodium intake is unquestionably a factor in high blood pressure, but low Mg intake is contributory. In Japan, emphasis is placed on the need, not only to lower salt, but to increase the Mg content of the diet in order to protect against cardiovascular disease.20,76-78,80 Largescale American surveys and reviews of data implicate low dietary intake and serum levels of Mg in cardiovascular disease in the United States.48,73-75 Fewer studies have correlated low Mg intake with osteoporosis but the coexistence of both heart and bone disease in conditions associated with Mg loss, including diabetes81 and alcoholism,82 is provocative.48 This recalls the prevalence of both heart disease and osteoporosis in Finland where Mg intake is low. 48 Also, the elderly who eat diets rich in vegetables, which are diets high in Mg, have greater bone density and thus are less prone to osteoporosis, than are those with less Mg-rich diets,83 just as they are less prone to cardiovascular disease.

by Mildred S. Seelig, M.D., Master of Public Health, Master of the American College of Nutrition,
Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Medical Center, Chapel Hill


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70. Seelig MS: Review and hypothesis: might patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have latent tetany of magnesium deficiency. J Chron Fatigue Syndr 4:77-108, 1998.

71. Elin RJ: Magnesium metabolism in health and disease. Dis-a-month 34-161-218, 1988.

72. Hunscher HA: Pertinent factors in interpreting metabolic data. J Am Dietet Assoc 39:201-219, 1961.

73. Ma J, Folsom AR, Melnick SL, Eckfeldt JH, Sharrett AR, Nabulsi AA, Hutchinson RG, Metcalf PA: Associations of serum and dietary magnesium with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, insulin, and carotid arterial wall thickness: the ARIC study. Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. J Clin Epidemiol 48:927- 940, 1995.

74. Marx A, Neutra RR: Magnesium in drinking water and ischemic heart disease. Epidemiol Rev 19:258-272, 1997.

75. Liao F, Folsom AR, Brancati FL: Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J 136:480-490, 1998.

76. Sei M, Nakamura H, Miyoshi T: Nutritional epidemiological study on mineral intake and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Tokushima J Exp Med 40:199-207,1993.

77. Itoh K, Kawasaki I, Uezono K: [Relationship of dietary intake of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium to blood pressure] Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 42:95-103, 1995.

78. Mizushima S, Tsuchida K, Yamori Y: Preventive nutritional factors in epidemiology: interaction between sodium and calcium. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2:573-575, 1999.

79. Gao M, Ikeda K, Hattori H, Miura A, NaraY, Yamori Y: Cardiovascular risk factors emerging in Chinese populations undergoing urbanization. Hypertens Res 22:209-215, 1999.

80. Liu L, Mizushima S, Ikeda K, Hattori H, Miura A, Gao M, Nara Y, Yamori Y: Comparative studies of diet-related factors and blood pressure among Chinese and Japanese: Results from the China-Japan Cooperative Research of the WHO-CARDIAC Study. Cardiovascular Disease and Alimentary Comparison. Hypertens Res 23:413-420, 2000.

81. Saggese G, Berelloni S, Baroncelli GI, et al: Bone demineralization and impaired mineral metabolism in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. A possible role of magnesium deficiency. Helv Paediatr Acta 43:405-414, 1989.

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Ionic Health Solutions
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Mineral & Trace Mineral Complex

Copyright © 2012 by Living Whole Foods, Inc. All rights reserved. Permission granted up to 100 words in a review when proper credit is given. Proper Credit = website reference: and article citation.

Worm Bin Instructions

Worm Bin Instructions 0

Instructions for Using A Worm Bin | Raising Red Earthworms

The following information is provided by Todd Spratt, Vermitech Specialist Buy Earthworms here. See Also: Instructions for Building a Worm BinOUR CURRENT CRISES

Our world is facing a number of environmental challenges, one of which is garbage and what to do with it all! Many states are requiring counties within their borders to reduce landfills by 50% by the year 2000. It is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of our waste is organic in nature (yard waste, table scraps, paper, etc.).


It takes approximately 8 gallons of water to flush a pound of food waste down the garbage disposal. When it all reaches the sewage treatment plant, chemicals are added to the mix and the end result is toxic sludge that still has to be disposed of and is supposedly treated back into water that is dumped back into our streams and rivers to be used again by someone downstream!

Incineration of waste causes toxic fumes to enter our atmosphere, requires a large amount of energy and the end result is a toxic ash that must still be eliminated

Burial of waste in landfills takes up space that is becoming harder to find. Waste buried in landfills take years to break down and emits methane gas and leachates, which are hazardous for us and our planet. Heavy equipment for the transport and processing of waste in this manner consumes large amounts of energy, adds to noise, air pollution, and contaminates our groundwater.

We must change this process before this process changes our planet for the worse.

You can tackle one of our environmental challenges right now before it ever leaves your home.

The REDWORM CAFE with 2 lb. of Redworms will convert 250 + pounds of waste to a resource per year when proper conditions are provided.

You can do it in the privacy of your own home! It's easy, fun and clean. Think of the money you'll save on your garbage bills and bags, plus all that free fertilizer. If you're a fisher-person, you'll have a steady supply of fresh bait. Not to mention the fact that YOU will be making a positive impact on the global environment!

Your organic waste is recycled where it is generated, no disposal transport, no landfill, no nothing except a rich organic fertilizer that is given back to your house plants, yard, and garden. This is Earth Smart™!

It is important to understand that learning to be responsible for our individual actions will improve our quality of life and our children's.

When conditions are maintained as indicated below the REDWORM CAFE has no foul odor, is clean and extremely effective at converting your garbage to fertilizer.

LOCATION is important, Redworms are most active and will convert your waste faster between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But Redworms are hardy and will survive a wide range of temperatures. Put your bin in a well shaded area, never in direct sun or freezing conditions. I keep my bin in my office, you may consider a basement, garage, kitchen, bedroom, pantry, laundry room, or outside. Be creative and you'll find the perfect spot.

SETUP your bin by misting the bedding (shredded paper) in the bin to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Mix the bedding to make sure it's moistened evenly and do not pack it down. If you over water add some newspaper, cardboard or sawdust to soak up excess water. Excess water will also drain through the vented floor into the basement of the Redworm Cafe and can be drained off at your convenience.

When bedding is ready add the Redworms, dump them on the bedding, and spread them evenly over the surface. Redworms are photo-sensitive and will dig in quickly when exposed to bright light.

When you are finished watching your Redworms crawl down place the cover on tightly as they will crawl around the bin while adjusting to their new home.

Caring for your REDWORM CAFE is a simple process involving little time, and after you understand the basic principal, you'll wonder why you didn't start VERMI-COMPOSTING sooner. If you do run into any adverse conditions in the bin these tips will help, so stick with it, and may all your REDWORMS be happy ones!

1. Odor in the bin:
A. Overfeeding.
B. Bedding too wet
C. Anaerobic condition (no air) exist.
D. Rotting meat or dairy in the bin.
E. Not enough bedding over waste.

A. Stop feeding for a week.
B. Add more dry bedding.
C. Fluff bedding.
D. Discontinue or cut back meat and dairy in the bin.
E. Bury waste deeper in bedding.

2. Too many Fruit Flies:
A. Bin to wet
B. Bed to acidic.
C. Scraps are not buried deep enough in bedding.
D. Scrap pail is open to fruit flies.

A. Add dry bedding B. Sprinkle some oyster flour or egg shells on surface. C. Bury waste deeper. D. Place a screened lid over scrap pail.

3. Redworms crawl extensively in bin:

A. Too many castings in the bin.
B. Bed pH. is out of balance.

A. Harvest castings and begin the cycle again.
B. Bring pH. into balance.

4. Too many mites:

A. Take the bin outside and remove mites.
B. Keep numbers under control (if necessary) when you feed the bin. If mites become a problem (which is rare) dump the bin, remove the worms and bury the bedding.

Although Redworms (Eisenia fetida) are wonderful composters, they cannot do it alone. They require the help of other composting organisms.

Mold, bacteria, and fungi break down and decay organic matter so that the Redworms can convert it more readily, and these organisms are also consumed by Redworms and other critters in your bin. Note: If you are allergic to mold spore's you may want someone else to tend the bin for you and keep the bin where it won't affect you.

Sow bugs and pill bugs (Isopods) may be in the soil you add to your bin. Isopods are land crustaceans, related to crabs and lobsters. They breath through gills and eat decaying matter, making them great composters.

Mold and beetle mites (Acarina) are so tiny they are difficult to see. They eat mold, algae and decaying matter. They tend to congregate near the vents and lid, you can keep their numbers down by squishing them or brushing or rinsing them off outside.

Fruit flies are also composters but are a nuisance in large numbers, placing a screened lid on your scrap pail will help keep them from entering your bin.

Spring tails are tiny white creatures that also help compost they live up to their name by springing around the bin.

Pot worms (Enchytraeids) are tiny white worms that resemble baby Redworms, eating decaying matter, making them beneficial.

After your Redworms have settled in for a few days, you may begin feeding them. Feed may consist of just about anything organic. Avoid vinegar, oils, salt, large amounts of citrus, meat, and dairy waste. Painted paper, cedar, and redwood chips are also harmful to your Redworms.

Place a container under your sink or other convenient location for your food scraps. A vented lid will help keep fruit flies from entering the system. Feed once or twice a week and always change burial location each time you feed.

When your REDWORM CAFE is well established 1 lb. of Redworms will convert about 1/2 lb. of waste per day. The 20 gal. REDWORM CAFE is designed to house 1 lb. of Redworms and will convert between 2 1/2 & 3 1/3 lbs. of waste per week. The 33 gal. REDWORM CAFE is designed to house 2 lbs. of Redworms and will convert between 5 & 7 lbs. of waste per week. It may be wise though to feed no more than 5 or 6 lbs of waste per week so you won't stress the system. Over feeding will sour the bed. Weigh your scraps on a bathroom scale, produce or mail scale even a fishing scale will work well and ensure your ecosystem will stay in balance. Start out feeding lighter amounts and then gradually increase.

Pull back the bedding in one corner of the bin, leaving a little bedding on the bottom. Dump in your scraps and then cover it up with 1 or 2 inches of bedding. Redworms have gizzards that function like chickens, so adding a handful or two of soil will give them the hard particles they need to digest their food.

Maintaining your REDWORM CAFE is relatively easy and it is interesting to witness the process that takes place in your micro-environment. With a little observation and care it will function beautifully.

Try to maintain the bin temperature between 45 and 85 degrees F. Redworms are most active and will covert your waste faster between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Maintaining moister content is also important because Redworms absorb oxygen trapped in water through their skin, so you don't want your bin to dry out. Too much moisture will sour the bedding. Pack it down creating an anaerobic condition (no oxygen) which will cause odor and make harvesting your compost and castings a messy job. Fortunately, the REDWORM CAFE is equipped with a cleverly designed vented floor that allows excess water to drain through and air to ventilate the bedding to help maintain an aerobic system (having oxygen).

Compost water that collects in the basement of the bin can be drained into a pan diluted with an equal amount of water and given to your plants, they'll love it. If the spout becomes clogged, unscrew it and poke a stick through. It may be best to do this outside.

Adding bedding when you feed in the form of paper, cardboard, sawdust, or coir (coconut fiber) will keep the bed fluffy and absorb excess moisture from the table scraps.

When you harvest your precious castings, it will depend on the type of end product you want. In three or four months, you could harvest a rich compost. The longer you let it go, the more pure castings will be deposited and the darker and richer it will become. The downside of that is the Redworm population will decrease as the castings increase.

After about a month, there will be enough castings deposited on the sides of the bin to scrape off and use immediately on your house plants, and you can repeat this during the whole cycle.

Stop feeding the bin 1 or 2 weeks before you harvest. One method is to pull half of the top layer to the other side collecting the castings from the bottom. Fill the void with fresh bedding and then repeat the process on the remaining half. Place your harvest on a plastic sheet or garbage bag in a couple of smaller piles with plenty of light, the Redworms will crawl to the bottom and you can rake the surface off the piles a little at a time until you reach the pile of worms at the bottom.

Weigh the Redworms if there are more than you need for your bin use the excess in your garden, and be sure to provide them with lots of organic mulch to eat and convert to castings.

You can also dump the bin in your garden and start your bin with new Redworms. You should dump the entire contents of the bin and rinse it out once or twice a year and then begin again with fresh bedding.

Buy Earthworms here!

Copyright © 2012 by Living Whole Foods, Inc. All rights reserved. Permission granted up to 100 words in a review when proper credit is given. Proper Credit = website reference: and article citation.

5 Flowers to Grow This Spring!

5 Flowers to Grow This Spring! 0

5 Flowers to Grow This Spring!

“[Flowers] are important,” says former Director of Disney’s Horticulture and Environmental Initiative, Katy Moss, “they make you feel good.” Here at, we couldn’t agree more. We believe that being in the company of flowers improves one’s well-being. And we wanted to showcase, what we think are, the 5 most essential flowers to grow in your garden this spring—just in time for Mother’s Day!

1. Dahlberg Daisy – Golden Fleece
These tiny canary blooms appear as the warmth of spring is ushered in, their mellow fragrance attracting butterflies. The green foliage is delicate and lush, energizing the blooms by contrast, making Dahlberg Daisy a perfect addition to arrangements and flower beds alike. When used in a flower bed, these daisies take on the role of ground cover, filling in the gaps between plants and rocks. Dahlberg Daisy is a tough flower too! It is known to withstand dry and arid climates, producing the same wild growth habit and classic hue.

2. Geranium – Pinto Premium Series
Also known as Cranesbills, Geraniums are known for their vibrant flowers and their unique blooming habits. These geranium blossoms grow together in clusters atop hardy stems with emerald foliage and come in warm pastel shades like Salmon, Coral, and Deep Rose—classic White is always stunning in its simplicity. The Pinto Premium Series is known for its vigorous growth and tenacity—you can even grow new plants from its cuttings! This strain has been known to bloom earlier than other geraniums and stick around longer before turning in for the Fall.

3. Snapdragon – Rocket Series
With an intoxicating fragrance and a one-of-a-kind bloom, Snapdragons are a favorite with gardeners across the board. Snapdragons have a wild quality to them. Their vertical nature and the overall cone shape of the blooms bring the meadow in your garden. They are known to grow up to 3 feet tall and in clusters. Some say the hues resemble that of a Van Gogh painting. The Rocket Series Mix contains white, deep violet, pink, and yellow blooms with puffy petals that grow closely together along the upright stem. It is especially fun to compose your garden with these unique blooms in mind. Snapdragons, along with the other flowers mentioned, have a way of complementing the differences in the surrounding plants. Florists love Snapdragons to as they can make a seemingly ordinary arrangements extraordinary.

4. Chrysanthemums – Snowland
Considered an herb as well as an ornamental flower, the Chrysanthemum is native to Asia, Europe, and Africa and has long been considered a symbol for truth. In China, the leaves and stem are commonly eaten as vegetables. The small blooms are delicate and attractive with long petals jutting out from a bold yellow bud. This strain of Chrysanthemum is ideal for filling in spaces in garden and arrangements because the stems are thin yet strong and deep green, adorning the small striking white blooms. The traditional shape and white shade of this flower highlights the unique colors and features of the surrounding flowers. It also mixes very well with Dahlberg Daisy

5. Carnations – Lillipot Mixture
Carnations generally carry a fragrance of cloves—some say nutmeg. This rich scent helps to cut through the floral scent of the other flowers, creating lovely complex aroma. The color combination (scarlet,peach, white, and canary with dark green foliage) of this mixture is the represents spring to its fullest. The Lillipot Mixture is easy to grow and ideal for pot and patio planters and garden beds alike. These carnations like to grow close together, creating a lush bed of color on their own

The Master Communicators

The Master Communicators 0

Flowers are among nature’s most important, beautiful, complex, and symbolic creations. They are like antennae that transmit messages to the natural world through colors and patterns, and fragrances that let the insects and birds know where the nectar is. For this reason, vegetable and fruit gardeners plant flowers alongside their crops, hoping to attract beneficial pollinators. Not only do flowers communicate with their surroundings, they communicate to us too. For centuries, we have used flowers to tell someone “I love you” or “I’m sorry” or “It’s going to be alright.”

They can also speak to us all on their own. When I witness the blooming trees of spring and see the specks of color scattered across the floor of a grand meadow, I think of the people going for a jog, the people having a picnic or hiking, the people opening the windows of their home, releasing the stagnant winter air, and I wonder if flowers aren’t partly responsible for pushing us out into the world after a long chill. At least for me, when I look out my window and see flowers welcoming the warm air, I need to get up and get out and seize the day!

I think it is safe to say that the Native Americans had a strong awareness of flowers as master communicators because of their plethora of applications, both aesthetic and medicinal. They extracted dyes from sunflowers and lavender flowers, dying their clothes and painting their faces, celebrating who they were and communicating to others tribes about what they stood for. But the Native Americans understood how flowers can communicate with our bodies; they used flowers to treat anything from the common cold, to insect bites, and nausea. The juice extracted from roots of the black-eyed Susan and lobelia were applied to snake bites and consumed as a drink in order to treat digestive issues, fevers, and colds.

Consuming flowers may seem like a dated pastime, but eating flowers is popular among many Americans today. Although they may have health benefits, it is because of their unique contribution of flavor and appearance that makes them a popular food item. The most commonly consumed flower is the sunflower, particularly the seed, which is roasted and salted or ground into flour. Pansies and hollyhocks are popular eaten raw or in salads. The petals of begonia are popularly used in hot sauces because of its earthy bitterness, which is said to translate to a robust flavor when added to spice.

It seems that no matter what form the flower takes, no matter how we process it, or extract it’s juices or pigments, the flower maintains its communicative ability. It can speak to us internally or help us to communicate externally—with ourselves and with each other and with the natural world.

4 Reasons Why Mushrooms are Food’s Best Kept Secret

4 Reasons Why Mushrooms are Food’s Best Kept Secret 0

Super high in protein—the PERFECT meat replacement!
Mushrooms are naturally high in protein, making them a perfect nutritional replacement for meat. Some mushrooms, such as Lion’s Mane and Shiitake, have a firm texture which has a firm texture like meat. Even the flavors of some mushrooms resemble the heartiness of meat or the light flavor of seafood. Most mushrooms also contain a high amount of vitamin D and has been said to support the immune system.

You can grow and harvest them at home for cheap!

Did you know that mushrooms can easily be grown at home indoors or outdoors? Growing your own mushrooms will allow you to enjoy cooking and eating them without emptying your wallet at the store. You can grow them from a mycelium-treated sawdust block in a dry, low-light area of your home. Or you can break up the block into chunks, bury the chunks beneath a substantial layer of soil in the garden and watch your mushrooms rise. If you choose to grow indoors, you can work it into your soil after the block is spent. This will add nutrients to your soil for your garden vegetables and plants!

Mushrooms make great teas!
All kinds of mushrooms can be dried on a cloth in the sun or in the oven, and afterward, they can be crushed and made into a wide variety of teas. Use tea bags, tea infusers, and even a coffee maker. Mushroom teas can be soothing for the body and spirit. Popular mushrooms for teas are Reishi and Chaga. Folks living in Siberia, Russia often drink Chaga tea, believing it to be a supplement that improves overall health and longevity. Asian cultures have long used Reishi for its believed medicinal properties.

So many different types—a flavor for everyone
The reality is that mushrooms come in so many varieties that you may never be able to discover them all. The flavor spectrum of mushrooms varies greatly, ranging from a seafood-like flavor with Yellow Mushrooms to the earthy flavor of Shiitake Mushrooms. Mushrooms come in many sizes too. Also known as Garden Giant, Wine Cap Mushrooms grow to be very large, and are more suited for outdoor growing as it will provide additional nutrients for surrounding plants. In general, mushrooms can adapt to changing environments. This also makes them such a treasure: the ability to grow in just about any climate on Earth.

The Benefits of Wheatgrass for Pets!

The Benefits of Wheatgrass for Pets! 0

I have often caught my cat, Curie, coming in after a long day of doing cat stuff with blades of lawn grass stuck in her jaws and whiskers, or I have come into the kitchen and caught her nibbling on my tray of wheatgrass growing on the counter. Sometimes she will vomit afterward, sometimes not. What could this mean? Why is she eating grass? Will it hurt her? Is it a sign that my cat is sick?

The reason most cats eat grass and then proceed to regurgitate is because it helps aid in their digestion. You see, cats lack certain enzymes that digest vegetable matter; so, the fibers in grass act as a cleanser for a cat’s stomach, pulling out matter that the feline may be struggling to digest such as hairballs. Sometimes, the cat may resist vomiting in order to cleanse their intestines, making the grass work as a natural laxative. In short, grass is not harmful to your cat. In fact, it is healthy for your cat to consume a fair amount of grass, and can especially benefit from consuming wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass contains Vitamins E and B which work to strengthen the immune system, stimulate the nervous system, and prevent heart disease. The Chlorophyll and Folic Acid in wheatgrass cleanses the liver and blood by aiding in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen through the blood. Wheatgrass is believed to increase vitality and stamina, combat free radicals, and even reduce body odor. All of the benefits that a human receives from consuming wheatgrass juice, so do the cats who eat the grass, but what about dogs? Does wheatgrass benefit the health of dogs in the same way? Short answer: Yes.

Dogs are also known to munch on lawn grass, for possible varying reasons: it simply tastes really good, a way to pass time, or similar to cats, works as a digestive aid. Even though, we are not 100% sure why dogs like to eat grass, the health benefits of incorporating wheatgrass into their diet is astounding.

Tom Stem, a dog breeder from Ontario, began mixing wheatgrass pulp in with their dog food, believing that his wife recovered from breast cancer through the consumption of wheatgrass juice. He noticed the energy and well-being of his dogs increase, and he noticed rashes that some of the canines were experiencing heal rapidly after implementing wheatgrass into their diet. Working with a local veterinarian, Tom Stem, adopted a terminally-ill dog with cancer and started feeding it the same way he’d fed the others. In a few weeks, the dog began to regain its mobility, and within four months the dog was completely mobile, strutting around Stem’s farm. Even though, the dog eventually died from the cancer, it was able to live nine months longer than what was initially expected, and not only just live but live happily as a dog should. Read the article here:

After learning of the health benefits of wheatgrass for pets, I’ve begun to grow a small square tray of wheatgrass just for my cat. She seems to enjoy taking small nibbles here and there, rubbing her face on the blades and scampering off. I’ve witnessed first-hand how providing a good source of wheatgrass for my pet (next to her food) has increased her energy and her happiness in my apartment.