Magnesium matters very much
I am very deliberate in my food choices and selective use of a minimum number of supplements, to give my body the magnesium (Mg) it needs. It is arguably the most essential mineral element in both plants and humans. Plants need Mg to produce chlorophyll (the GREEN substance) that converts sunlight into stored energy. Humans need Mg (in the ionic form Mg2+) as a co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic physiological reactions. Plant leaves go yellow when Mg deficient. How do we know when we are magnesium deficient?
We have dietary guidelines for recommended daily intake of food-sourced magnesium, typically in the range of 300-320 mg per day for women and 350-420 mg per day for men, of which 30%-40% is the typical absorption rate, affected by various factors. Schuchardt and Hahn (2017) refer to balance studies that show a physiological need in the range of 3-4.5 mg/kg body weight. 99% of Mg2+ resides inside cells: 60%-65% inside bone cells and 34-39% inside muscle and soft tissue cells (Schuchardt and Hahn, 2017). Mg2+ in our blood, like calcium, is regulated within a narrow concentration range to maintain normal healthy physiological function. Our bodies have no storage mechanism for magnesium, so excess to needs is excreted mostly in urine (regulated by our kidneys) and we need that daily intake of magnesium.
Note: Magnesium is also lost in sweat induced by intense exercise, which increases the exercising person’s magnesium needs.
Magnesium has critical roles in how our bodies function, as co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in many biochemical pathways:
· Degradation of macronutrients i.e. metabolising carbohydrates, protein and fats
· Oxidative phosphorylation i.e. producing energy in our mitochondria
· DNA and protein synthesis i.e. cell division and growth
· Neuro-muscular excitability i.e. affecting neurological and muscular function
· Regulation of parathyroid secretion i.e. regulating our calcium metabolism
· Regulation of membrane permeability i.e. affecting fluid distribution inside and outside cells
What does this mean for us in our daily lives? It means, more simply, we need adequate magnesium for:
· supporting healthy nervous system
· supporting healthy cardiovascular function
· relieving stress and nervous tension
· relieving muscle cramps, nervous tension and headaches or migraines
· supporting healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy production
· supporting healthy pregnancy
· supporting healthy immune system
· utilising calcium properly
· supporting healthy structure of bones, teeth and sinews
· supporting production of hormones – affecting the endocrine system
· controlling cell osmosis – affecting fluid distribution inside and outside cells.
Unlike magnesium, calcium does get stored in the body, inappropriately if not biochemically balanced with other essential minerals. There are various mechanisms that can dysregulate calcium metabolism leading to calcified body tissues, including but not limited to:
· kidney stones and gallstones
· arterial plaque i.e. atherosclerosis
· bone spurs
· calcium deposits in tissues other than bones
· brain cell dysfunction, brain shrinkage and dementia.
And so let’s add some condition specific health benefits of adequate magnesium:
· reduces cholesterol levels
· decalcifies body tissue
· helps prevent atherosclerosis (calcium deposits in arteries)
· inhibits blood coagulation
· protects against thrombosis
· protects against heart attacks
· helps prevent kidney stones (calcium deposits)
· may be protective against cancers
· helps prevent dental caries
· reduces pain sensitivity.
If you consider these lists above of the diverse role of Mg and the following list of potential consequences of Mg deficiency, why would you not want to have adequate magnesium?
· Tissue calcification, affecting various organs, joints, skin, brain tissue,
· Dental caries
· Cardio-vascular disorders
· Circulatory disorders
· Hypersensitivity (to pain)
· Pancreatic insufficiency
· Impaired immunity
· Vitamin D deficiency
· Elevated cholesterol
· Mood and mental disorders
· Endocrine disorders
Unlike plants, we don’t have an easy to detect colour indicator of Mg deficiency that would prompt us to dose up. We may experience symptoms that prompt us to get a medical checkup, but Mg status is not part of a regular blood panel and most doctors are not trained to consider or assess magnesium deficiency.
My nutritional medicine studies and personal experience have enabled me to resolve some chronic magnesium deficiency issues, including very dry skin, hand tremor, head aches and migraines, cramping; and I can reflect back on my health history and recognise what could well have been undiagnosed stress induced magnesium deficiency contributing to low weight full-term babies and my late pregnancy pre-eclampsia. Now I recognise acute magnesium deficiency symptoms of eyelid twitches, muscle tension in hand and back, headaches, tension and mood changes – and it’s always after a period of heightened stress. Believe me, I know how to eat very well for health – and I love my magnesium rich food – and have learnt to self-care much more to take breaks form stressful situations, to breathe better and exercise regularly.
I also habitually use the Mag Phos tissue salt in a regular daily maintenance dose in preference to any other form of magnesium supplementation, because it’s a homeopathic dose, highly soluble and absorbed sublingually, so bypassing a digestive system that may be compromised, which impairs magnesium absorption from our intestine. I will explain further in upcoming posts, the many good biochemical reasons for using tissue salt supplements in preference to other options.
Meanwhile if you need more motivation to up your magnesium and more medical expertise on this valuable mineral, there is plenty to guide you here: https://drcarolyndeanlive.com/
Schuchardt JP and Hahn A, 2017, “Intestinal Absorption and Factors Influencing Bioavailability of Magnesium-An Update”, Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2017 Nov; 13(4): 260–278, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5652077/, viewed online 7 July 2020.