A Day in the Life of the Mineral Magnesium
The last time you created a “to-do” list; did it have more than 300 items to be done? Well… if we were to investigate the life of magnesium in the human body, one would find it busy -very busy- no leisure time. It is needed for more than 300 critical metabolic reactions, and if there is not enough magnesium to go around, things go awry. About 68% of Americans don’t meet even minimum…. that’s minimum recommendations for magnesium intake.
Just a Sampling of what Magnesium does…
●Fuels almost all metabolic processes!
●Increases oxygen uptake in muscles
●Amino acid activation
●Insulin and insulin action
●Balances pH levels in body
●Cardiac and smooth muscle contractibility
● DNA synthesis, as well as the stability of DNA.
Natural sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts, legumes, seafood and green vegetables. It is an important component of chlorophyll and is found in large amounts in green vegetables. However, “food processing and preparation may substantially reduce the magnesium content of some foods. For example, refining whole wheat, which removes the germ and outer layers, can reduce its magnesium content by 80%.”
Symptoms of Deficiency may include…
Insulin resistance (high blood sugar), agitation, anxiety, depression, restless leg syndrome (RLS), migraine headaches, sleep disorders, fatigue, irritability, muscle weakness, hypertension, irregular heart beats, poor nail growth… any of these symptoms should lead clinicians to investigate magnesium status and dietary intake.
For the Stressful Life
A 2010 article in Medical Hypotheses stated that “chronic stress decreased both free and total plasma ionized magnesium and simultaneously increased oxidative stress in humans. These findings supported the necessity for magnesium supplementation with antioxidant vitamins for patients living in conditions of chronic stress.” Americans know stress, and without adequate levels of magnesium, stress increases the risk of cardiovascular damage and depression even more. The article also adds “chronic stress whether physical (i.e. exertion, heat, cold, critical illness, trauma – accidental or surgical, noise, burns), or emotional (i.e. pain, anxiety, excitement or depression) increases need for magnesium.” This same article emphasized magnesium supplementation for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) – and reported that 220 out of 225 cases of TRD had been successfully treated with magnesium. (Note: dosages in each case were different and were medically supervised.)
Breath to Your Muscles, even aging muscles
Magnesium increases oxygen uptake in muscles, so having sufficient levels can help with exercise performance and endurance. When you exercise, magnesium is redistributed throughout your body. This creates a greater need for magnesium. Magnesium optimizes muscle strength, endurance and protects against cell damage. You want to make sure you have an ample supply. Research data shows a correlation between magnesium deficiency and aging in muscles.
Reduces Risk for Metabolic Syndrome & Components!
“Recently, there has been burgeoning experimental, clinical, and epidemiological data that provides strong evidence that dietary magnesium intake and supplementation are inversely associated with the risk for metabolic syndrome and its components”.
Diabetes Mellitus à Magnesium Depletion is Common
25% – 38% of those with diabetes have been found to have lower levels of magnesium. Magnesium intake is associated with Type 2 Diabetes, because it plays a crucial role in metabolism, particularly in carbohydrate metabolism. Excess glucose, lost through the urine, causes extra magnesium to be lost through the urine as well. Supplementation with magnesium can improve both glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, improving both metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2.
As the magnesium content of bone mineral decreases, bone crystals become larger and more brittle. Some studies have found lower magnesium content and larger bone
crystals in bones of women with osteoporosis compared to those without… So getting enough magnesium may help protect your bones.
Drugs Can Deplete Magnesium!
Diuretics (“water pills”), antibiotics, and PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors, i.e. Nexium, Prevacid, Pepcid) can deplete magnesium levels. In fact, the FDA recommends monitoring magnesium levels in all patients on PPI’s especially if also taking diuretics. Magnesium affects the absorption and retention of potassium, so optimal levels of both minerals are necessary!
Mag for Migraines
Supplementing with magnesium (from 450 mg – 600 mg per day) has been helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Studies have shown benefit in both children and adults. “The available evidence suggests that up to 50% of patients during an acute migraine attack have lowered levels of ionized magnesium. Infusion of magnesium results in a rapid and sustained relief of an acute migraine in such patients. Two double-blind studies suggest that chronic oral magnesium supplementation may also reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Because of an excellent safety profile and low cost and despite the lack of definitive studies, we feel that a trial of oral magnesium supplementation can be recommended to a majority of migraine sufferers.”
A minimum of 500 mg of magnesium per day is optimal for most sedentary individuals. Those who regularly exercise, especially strenuously, will likely need 10-20% more magnesium due to increased muscle demand. Different forms of magnesium will exert different effects or side effects, and absorption varies widely.
Magnesium Citrate provides multiple benefits, in addition to helping you meet your body’s need for magnesium. The “citrate” form of magnesium promotes acid-base balance (most Westerner’s have chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis and need help to balance the acid). Magnesium citrate is well absorbed without food and has minimal GI side effects, although very high doses can have a laxative effect. Daily dosages will depend on multiple factors including age, gender, activity level, medications and dietary intake. Ask your nutrition specialist for details on your recommended dose. Dr. Tague’s Magnesium Citrate has 150 mg per capsule. A typical dose would be one capsule 2 to 3 times daily. Cal Mag Essentials is another excellent source of magnesium.
Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, 2nd Ed, 2004,Med Hypotheses, vol 74, 2010,Advanced nutrition and Human metabolism, 5th ed, 2009,Magnes Res, vol 19, 2006,Magnes Res, vol 20, 2007,J Intern Med, vol 252, 2007,Am J Clin Nutr, vol 84, 2006,Am J Ther, vol 8, 2001,Clin Neurosci, vol 5 1998
Linus Pauling Institute Online: Magnesium, 2007 http://lpi.loregonstate.edu