Magnesium: The Miracle MineralBy Sarah Cameron
What is Magnesium?Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. At least half the magnesium in your body is found in your bones. The other half of your body's magnesium stores are found inside cells of body tissues and organs, and about 1% of the magnesium in your body is found in your blood. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines while it is excreted through the kidneys.
What Does Magnesium Do?
Magnesium is a catalyst for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. A key component for the production of metabolic enzymes, magnesium is required for the production of energy and to help the body eliminate toxins. Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
The Calcium-Magnesium Debate
Much of the hype surrounding magnesium today revolves around the balance between magnesium and calcium. Together, they create an intricately linked relationship to support the nervous system. James South finds that, "Magnesium enhances the absorption of calcium; however, high calcium intake both retards magnesium absorption and promotes magnesium excretion in the urine". As a consequence, the body has evolved mechanisms to absorb and conserve calcium and sodium, but not magnesium and potassium. Millions of people ingest thousands of milligrams of calcium daily attempting to ward off osteoporosis. Ironically, research shows that increasing the magnesium intake improves, rather than interferes with calcium utilization.
Recommended Daily Allowance
Approximately 90% of the population does not get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium. Dr. Carolyn Dean states that, "some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: chronic fatigue, weakness and exhaustion, high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, PMS irregular or rapid heartbeat and muscle spasms/cramps." Because of the generality of the symptoms, it is difficult to assess whether a deficiency is present or not. While the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are common, traditional Western medicine rarely considers magnesium supplementation. The concept of biochemical individuality is important, as it is possible that some people require higher levels of magnesium than others. In addition, many drugs and dietary habits result in magnesium deficiency.
Western Dietary Intake - Magnesium-Rich Foods
The RDA of magnesium is 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men. To get the recommended amount, one must eat large quantities of magnesium-rich foods. These foods include green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, unprocessed grains, fish (halibut, flounder, and sole), yogurt, bananas and dark chocolate is high in magnesium too!
Unfortunately, hectic schedules, fad diets and bad eating habits seem to be a common denominator for many of those living in Western societies. And while magnesium supplements are not recommended for the general healthy population, it is worth questioning: How healthy are we? Prescription asthma drugs, diuretics (water pills), cardiovascular medications, alcohol and caffeine are notorious for removing magnesium from our bodies. It is also wise keep in mind, that wherever significant amounts of dairy products or calcium supplements are consumed, additional magnesium supplements are usually needed.
Magnesium as a Daily Supplement
Magnesium expert Mildred Seelig discovered that for most people, at least 6 milligrams of magnesium per kilogram of body weight is necessary to ensure a positive magnesium balance (2.7 mg/lb of body weight). According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, "For the average person, oral magnesium even in high dosages, has no side effects except loose stools". It is also important to realize that it may take six weeks to six months to replenish body magnesium stores through oral supplementation. The type of magnesium used is also important. Clinical experience suggests that amino acid chelates of magnesium offer the most consistent overall therapeutic effect. Chelated magnesium, which means that the magnesium is bound to organic amino acids, is said to be better absorbed. Weight to weight and dollar to dollar, magnesium oxide may be the best buy for general use.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright 2008. Sarah Cameron - Aviva Natural Health Solutions.
- Burford-Mason, Aileen P. "Magnesium." Scientific Evidence for Musculoskeletal, Bariatric, and Sports Nutrition: 137-147.
- Dean, Carolyn. The Miracle of Magnesium. New York: The Ballantine Book, 2003.
- Office of Dietary Supplements - National Institutes of Health. "Magnesium" (accessed Jan. 2008): 1-15.
- South, James - Complementary Prescriptions. "Magnesium: The Key to Health and Life" (2006): 4-7.
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