Magnesium does a little bit of everything, making it an essential mineral in the human body. Those who don’t have adequate magnesium concentrations are likely to suffer from a wide range of ailments that could easily be treated, if the problem was addressed at its roots. Sadly, the greater majority of people in the Western world suffer from a magnesium deficiency, forcing health practitioners to begin to focus on this critical issue.
Magnesium participates in a documented 300 different biochemical reactions and over 3,700 different protein binding sites throughout the body.1 Magnesium activates the muscles and nerves, is a cofactor in ATP production, while assisting in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Magnesium is also required in DNA and RNA synthesis, and is a precursor to neurotransmitter production.2 A discussion regarding the roll that magnesium plays in the body could go on and on, but the bottom line is, adequate magnesium levels are something everyone should aim to attain.
The RDA of magnesium is currently set at 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.3 This level is the minimum required to stave off a number of documented diseases. However, people should aim to take in significantly more magnesium than the RDA minimum. Unfortunately, the average American only takes in about 270 mg of magnesium a day, far below the RDA. This epidemic has resulted in low magnesium levels throughout 80% of the population.4 With chronic diseases weighing down on society in epic proportions, focusing on increasing magnesium levels should be part of the first line of defense against a wide range of health problems.
The main factors to blame for low magnesium levels are the consumption of processed foods, high dietary sugar intake, and conventional farming practices that are currently prevalent. 100 years ago, daily food consumption provided about 500 mg of magnesium a day. With the advent of commercial farming, a chemical solution of mainly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is sprayed on the soil year after year, while minerals like magnesium aren’t included. In addition, some herbicides compound the problem by blocking the uptake of magnesium. This has amounted to widespread magnesium deficiencies, as average Americans are only getting about 200 mg of magnesium a day through food alone.
A large number of people consume bottled water in the belief that it is good for their health, yet, magnesium and other minerals have typically been removed from it. However, consuming bottled water is a better choice than consuming typical tap water that has chlorine and fluoride. In addition to a whole host of negative health factors, these halogens block the uptake of magnesium.5
Another reason for magnesium deficiency throughout the Western world has to do with the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and sugar-laden carbonated drinks.6 Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, forcing the kidneys to expel water and minerals like magnesium. The consumption of sugar also taxes the already low magnesium levels, as magnesium is required to digest glucose, thus keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range.7 Antacids also affect magnesium absorption and cause a wide variety of problems.8 Cooking food reduces the overall magnesium levels by 20% to 55%.9 Ideally, consume more raw food in order to benefit from higher magnesium bioavailability and avoid antacids.
First, consume food that has a high level of magnesium. Food like seaweed, seeds, nuts, beans, avocado, leafy greens, and mineral water are magnesium rich. In addition, purchase only organic, and ideally, food that has been grown through permaculture style farming practices.
The dairy industry and fortified calcium product manufacturers would have one believe that more calcium is the solution to ideal health. While calcium is critical to good health, adequate magnesium levels are required to balance out its actions. Those who consume the correct ratio between calcium and magnesium have the potential to benefit to the greatest degree.10
Unfortunately, excess calcium causes calcification of the soft tissue and contributes to some of the most debilitating conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, and kidney stones.11
Typical health practitioners don’t have a great way to test for a magnesium deficiency. Unfortunately, blood tests aren’t a great marker of overall magnesium levels because magnesium concentrations in the blood are almost always the same due to a buffer system.12 Those who are experiencing a wide range of problems that we have discussed here can likely assume that they are magnesium deficient.
The overall health problems that stem from a magnesium deficiency are wide ranging and extensive. Some of these health problems include, soft tissue calcification, blood vessel calcification, blood clots, muscle spasms, cramps, depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, metabolic symptom, hypertension, hormone problems, bone problems, and low energy.13 There is plenty of ongoing research regarding these issues and the crucial role that magnesium plays in the body is changing the way we treat a wide variety of ailments.
Magnesium allows the muscles to relax, while calcium allows them to contract.14 Without adequate levels of magnesium in the muscles, cramps will result. In addition, magnesium offers more strength and endurance, as the muscles are allowed to function properly. Magnesium is also a cofactor in ATP production, in other words, energy production. In addition, magnesium increases oxygenation in the muscles, allowing for better performance.15
The most important muscle, the heart, requires adequate magnesium levels in order to function properly. In fact, a common denominator in heart attacks are low magnesium levels.16 One emergency room treatment for a heart attack involves administering an injection of magnesium sulfate directly into the heart.17 Those who have adequate magnesium levels will likely be able to give their heart what it needs to function properly.
There is a strong link between osteoporosis and low magnesium levels.18 Magnesium plays a role in allowing the calcium matrix to form bone structure properly. Without the right levels of magnesium, calcium has the tendency to deposit in the soft tissues and cause a whole host of problems as we discussed earlier. In other words, adequate magnesium levels will allow for strong bone formation. In addition, magnesium is stored in the bones and can be used by the body on as needed basis.
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to increase magnesium levels is to supplement with it. However, certain magnesium compounds are more bioavailable and offer different benefits. Magnesium citrate penetrates the mitochondria, increases energy levels, and can even penetrate the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), assisting with memory. Magnesium glycinate is another great form of magnesium, as it is chelated, has a high level of absorption, and a high bioavailability.
Patients who consume both of these magnesium compounds often see a reduction in muscle cramps and spasms. Those who are taking these magnesium supplements also see improvements in bone health and experience an increase in energy. In addition, those who are supplementing with magnesium should find that all aspects of their health improves with each passing day.
We recommend and treat our patients with Mg Plus Guard, as it has both magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate. Mg Plus Guard is available online or in our office.
1 Ods.od.nih.gov,. “Office Of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium”. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 May 2016.
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9 Y, Kimura. “Cooking Losses Of Minerals In Foods And Its Nutritional Significance. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 May 2016.
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11 JA, Maier. “Low Magnesium And Atherosclerosis: An Evidence-Based Link. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 May 2016.
12 “The Journal Of Physiology”. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
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14 “Magnesium For Muscle Cramps”. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (2012): n. pag. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
15 Examine.com,. “Magnesium – Scientific Review On Usage, Dosage, Side Effects | Examine.Com”. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
16 Chacko SA, et al. “Relations Of Dietary Magnesium Intake To Biomarkers Of Inflammation And Endothelial Dysfunction In An Ethnically Diverse Cohort Of Postmenopausal W… – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
17 Acpjc.org,. “1994 – Intravenous Magnesium Sulfate Decreased Long-Term Mortality After MI | 1994 Sep-Oct : Volume 121, Number 2, Page 40 | ACP Journal Club Archives”. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
18 H, Abraham. “A Total Dietary Program Emphasizing Magnesium Instead Of Calcium. Effect On The Mineral Density Of Calcaneous Bone In Postmenopausal Women On Hormo… – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.