By Nurse Mark
You know the stuff; that really lightweight metal that you had fun with in high school chemistry class. There was always the class clown who would put a match to a piece of it, and it would burn with an incredibly bright, white light. Invariably, someone would panic and try to douse the flame with water – which would only make it burn more ferociously…
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals on our planet Earth – the fourth most common element in fact after iron, oxygen and silicon.
Yet many people are deficient in this important, precious (for health) mineral.
How can this be?
Our ancestors rarely suffered from magnesium deficiencies – they got plenty in their diets. That is unfortunately not the case today.
Can you say “monoculture“?
Modern, “industrial” agriculture methods have depleted our topsoil of this and many other minerals, leaving our crops and thus our diets deficient. Even the USDA admits that less than a third of Americans don’t get even the minimal USDA recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 240 to 420 millgrams per day.
Why is magnesium so important to our health?
Magnesium is involved in energy processes, nerve function, enzyme activation, and protein formation.
Magnesium is essential to the basic chemistry of life – nucleic acid. Over 300 enzymes require magnesium to function, including all enzymes that utilize or synthesizing ATP (adenosine triphosphate – the most basic energy source for our cells), and enzymes used to synthesize DNA and RNA. ATP is found in cells in the form of ATP and a magnesium ion bound together in a chelate.
So what – if I’m a little low?
Since magnesium is important to so many vital physical processes in our bodies it’s easy to see how a deficiency can have so many, wide ranging, and serious effects.
Magnesium deficiency is associated with:
|high blood pressure||diabetes||hearing loss|
|heart disease (arrhythmia, CHF, angina, acute MI)||pregnancy complications (toxemia, premature delivery)||premenstrual syndrome|
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Without magnesium our bones cannot utilize calcium properly, leading to osteoporosis. This also why a magnesium deficiency can lead to kidney and gall stone formation and can result in vascular calcification (AKA “hardening of the arteries”).
Magnesium is Mother Nature’s “calcium channel blocker.” Calcium Channel Blockers are drugs used to control high blood pressure. The drugs have a multitude of nasty side effects. Magnesium doesn’t, and it lowers high blood pressure very nicely.
Magnesium is a “calming” mineral. It reduces muscle cramps and spasms and is used in emergency medicine to treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias.
Magnesium deficiencies are associated with metabolic syndrome and Type II Diabetes.
Small doses of magnesium were found to be as effective as drugs in treating depressed elderly Type II Diabetics, and has been speculated to be useful in the treatment of other depression as well.
But what if I take too much?
Like anything, it is possible to get too much magnesium. Difficult, but possible. Excess magnesium in the blood is quickly and effectively filtered out by the kidneys, so it’s hard to overdose on magnesium from dietary sources alone.
Overdose is possible with misuse of supplements, particularly in people with poor renal function and occasionally people using high doses of magnesium salts as a cathartic can get themselves into trouble, causing hypermagnesemia even if they don’t have renal dysfunction – they just overwhelm their kidneys ability to cope with the overload.
For most people however, excess magnesium in the system is going to be quickly eliminated in the urine.
Where can I get some?
Diet is the best way to get your magnesium. Unfortunately, as we discussed earlier, our soils are depleted and our crops are lacking. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources of magnesium.
Like almonds? They provide up to 20% of the RDA of magnesium (80mg) per one ounce serving. Spinach runs a close second, providing 78mg per half cup. Cashews are number 3 with 74mg per one ounce serving – who knew that eating healthy could be so great!
But remember, the RDA is 240 to 420 millgrams per day – and you really should be getting twice that much for optimal health!
Supplementation provides a more certain source for magnesium.
Multiple vitamin / mineral formulas should ideally contain goodly amounts of magnesium. For example, Dr. Myatt’s Maxi Multi provides 500mg per day. For those who need more, Magnesium Glycinate is available in 100mg capsules to allow optimal fine-tuning of daily intake. And for those who are concerned with osteoporosis and bone health, CalMag Amino contains 200mg of magnesium in the optimal ratio with calcium along with several other essential bone health nutrients including Vitamin D, boron, and Vitamin K.
Ever get a charley-horse or other muscle cramps?
Magnesium absorbs quickly through the skin and relieves muscle cramps fast. Try massaging in a few sprays of Magnesium Oil – Dr. Myatt uses this herself for muscle cramps after exercise and she swears by it. It’s not really oil – it is a very thick brine (like a salt solution) that feels oily going on but absorbs in to the skin quickly. It doesn’t stain like oil, but it does sometimes leave a light powdery residue on the skin that is easily wiped or washed away. This stuff is like a “miracle cure” for kids who are prone to night-time muscle cramps, “growing pains,” and charley-horses!
Magnesium – who knew that “science class” stuff would turn out to be so important!
National Institutes for Health Office of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet on Magnesium: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ – includes numerous additional references.
Eby Ga, 3rd; Eby, KL (2010). “Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis”. Medical hypotheses 74 (4): 649–660.
Barragán-Rodríguez, L; Rodríguez-Morán, M; Guerrero-Romero, F (2008). “Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial”. Magnesium research : official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium 21 (4): 218–23.
Jee SH, Miller ER III, Guallar E et al. (2002). “The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials”. Am J Hypertens 15 (8): 691–696.
Guerrero-Romero F, Rodriguez-Moran M (2002). “Low serum magnesium levels and metabolic syndrome”. Acta Diabetol 39 (4): 209–213.
Zipes DP, Camm AJ, Borggrefe M et al. (2012). “ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 Guidelines for Management of Patients With Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force and the European Society of Cardiology Committee for Practice Guidelines (writing committee to develop Guidelines for Management of Patients With Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death): developed in collaboration with the European Heart Rhythm Association and the Heart Rhythm Society”. Circulation 114 (10): e385–e484.
James MF (2010). “Magnesium in obstetrics”. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 24 (3): 327–337.
Hashimoto T, Hara A, Ohkubo T et al. (2010). “Serum magnesium, ambulatory blood pressure, and carotid artery alteration: the Ohasama study”. Am J Hypertens 23 (12): 1292–1298.
Massy ZA, Drüeke TB (2012). “Magnesium and outcomes in patients with chronic kidney disease: focus on vascular calcification, atherosclerosis, and survival”. Clin Kidney J 5 (Suppl 1): i52–i61.
Turgut F, Kanbay M, Metin MR et al. (2008). “Magnesium supplementation helps to improve carotid intima media thickness in patients on hemodialysis”. Int Urol Nephrol 40 (4): 1075–1082.
“Lack Energy? Maybe It’s Your Magnesium Level”. United States Department of Agriculture.
Euser, A. G.; Cipolla, M. J. (2009). “Magnesium Sulfate for the Treatment of Eclampsia: A Brief Review”. Stroke 40 (4): 1169–1175.
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