Magnesium (Mg) is an essential macro-mineral that must be obtain from one’s diet. Named after the Greek city Magnesia where large deposits of magnesium salts were discovered, it can be found in the earth, water and plants. In Fact, magnesium is the core constituent of chlorophyll which gives plants their green color.
65% of magnesium is contained in teeth & bones. Of the remaining 35%, highest levels are found in the brain, tissues, fluids, blood and significant amounts in the heart.
Magnesium and calcium have a yin yang relationship. As calcium causes constriction and excitability on muscles, blood vessels and nerves; magnesium has the opposite effect bringing calmness and relaxation.
For example: When magnesium is low it allows calcium levels to rise into the vascular muscle cells causing them to contract and leading to higher blood pressure. Magnesium relaxes the blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely and as a result lowers blood pressure.
Although magnesium has a calming effect on nerves and muscles, it is also used in several hundred enzymatic reactions including the most important of which produce, transport, store and utilize energy in every cell of the body. So not only can magnesium calm muscle spasms and nerves, it can increase energy. Booth Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome sufferers may benefit when magnesium levels are increased.
Magnesium has the ability to increase the solubility of calcium and therefore possibly preventing kidney stones and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Recent studies reveal, 65% of individuals having Insulin Resistant Syndrome are deficient in magnesium and would benefit with supplementation. One theory is that IRS impedes magnesium’s ability to enter the cells, allowing most of the magnesium to leave the body through urination. Many IRS suffers go on to become diabetics and it’s possible that the low magnesium level is what increases the diabetic's risk of heart disease as this study indicates.
According to Drs. Bella T. Alturas and Burton M. Alturas, up to 75% to 80% of the U.S. population is magnesium deficient. How can this be, you ask?
- Commercialized farming that doesn't rotate crops or add minerals like magnesium back into the soil but will use fertilizers containing nitrogen to give the plants that “green healthy look”. I previously wrote about this problem here.
- Much of the American diet is made up of processed foods that are enriched with vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium but not magnesium which leads to an imbalanced ratio. Current calcium to magnesium ratios are between 5:1 to 15:1 but should ideally be 1:1 to 2:1.
- Due to water purification (bottled water, osmosis, city water), Mg is filtered out.
- During times or stress or sickness magnesium reserves are depleted.
- Sugar (including fructose), antibiotics and alcohol consumption reduces magnesium levels.
- Magnesium is easily leached out of food during cooking or boiling and as a result it's not found in processed foods.
Most doctors will test blood serum levels of magnesium which can give false adequate numbers. This is because it is an intracellular mineral and is better measured with an intracellular test called MG RBC. There is another test call “Blood Ionized Magnesium Test” but it's not as readily available at this time.
Dr. Carolyn Dean recommends supplementing magnesium levels up to 1000 mg as long as calcium levels are adequate. Calcium to magnesium ratios should be between 1:1 to 2:1. For every 1000 mg of calcium consumed, magnesium can supplemented 500 to 1000 mg. Smaller doses throughout the day are better absorbed then one or two larger doses.
Best taken on an empty stomach because Mg needs adequate levels of hydrochloric acid to be assimilated in the body. It’s also a good idea not to take a combination calcium/magnesium supplement given that they would be competing for absorption.
Magnesium can lessen your need for certain medications including blood pressure & diabetic medication and interfere with the absorption of certain antibiotics. It is of the utmost importance to notify your doctor if you plan on increasing your magnesium intake.
The following condition may benefit from magnesium supplementation:
- Muscle Twitches, Tics, or Spasms
- Headaches, Cluster Headaches, Migraines
- Diabetes & Insulin Resistance Syndrome
- "Charlie Horse" (the muscle spasm that occurs when you stretch your legs)
- Stiff and Aching Muscles
- Heart Attack
- Insomnia or Restless Sleep
- Bones & Joints that need continued Chiropractic Treatment
- Irregular Heartbeat
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Stones
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Back Pain
- Aggressive Behavior
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/fatigue