Ten important things to know about magnesium

| April 27, 2012
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Daily Aspirin… or daily Magnesium?

Magnesium deficiency is widespread and is related to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

As the late Dr. Atkins was quick to point out, while magnesium is the most important mineral for the heart, few cardiologists bother to (1) test for it properly and (2) prescribe it to their patients. While potassium is more abundant within our cells than magnesium, potassium on average is also 5 to 10 times more abundant in our food. (You don’t have to eat carb-dense bananas to ensure adequate potassium levels.)

Although potassium is present in highest amounts, magnesium is dominant in regulating essential biochemical processes. Calcium also plays an important role in human chemistry – both are present in the blood, bones, and muscles – but magnesium is predominant in muscle cells and tends to control and balance other mineral electrolytes including calcium, potassium and sodium.

Magnesium is the mineral band leader

The heart and the smooth muscles in the blood vessels are particularly sensitive to the balance of calcium and magnesium. Magnesium has a relaxing effect; calcium makes them more rigid. As a natural calcium-channel blocking agent, magnesium displaces and excludes excess calcium within cell membranes. As a natural muscle and artery relaxant, magnesium sufficiency is a key factor in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart beat.

Overall, magnesium ensures that the heart can pump a larger volume of blood without increasing oxygen requirements. Magnesium’s anti-platelet activity enhances the flow of blood in all blood vessels and without the tendency like aspirin to promote bleeding. In the Physician’s Health Study, participants who took aspirin (Bufferin) had twice as many hemorrhagic strokes as those who took a placebo.

Ten important things to know about magnesium

  1. Routine blood tests do not reveal intracellular magnesium. When your doctor says “your magnesium is fine,” she simply means the 1 percent normally found in the blood is present. A correlation does not exist between blood (serum) and intracellular magnesium. The measurement of magnesium in serum has very limited medical significance.
  2. Metabolizing highly processed carbohydrates – food products with corn syrup, sugar, flour, and box cereals – cause magnesium losses in the urine. Magnesium is required for optimum blood sugar control.  Poor blood sugar control, in turn, increases the rate of magnesium excretion further impairing blood sugar metabolism. (Dr. Atkins referred to type 2 diabetes as a magnesium deficiency disease.)
  3. Commonly prescribed diuretic drugs prevent the kidneys from recycling magnesium (and potassium and sodium), yet most doctors tell their patients to supplement with calcium – not magnesium. Excess calcium from supplements and so called fortified food products aggravates the important calcium-magnesium balance in favor of calcium.
  4. Stress of all kinds causes loss of magnesium. Extreme exercise, running, sweating, and even shivering in the cold promotes magnesium excretion. Anger, driving in rush hour traffic, depression, guilt, and fear all involve sympathetic nervous system activation, increased adrenaline – and loss of magnesium.
  5. We need stomach acid to absorb minerals. Our bodies require magnesium to produce stomach acid. A magnesium deficiency reduces stomach acid which, in turn, reduces mineral absorption. (Keep in mind that the symptoms of excess and insufficient stomach acid are the same.) Don’t reach for an “antacid,” get your intracellular magnesium tested instead.
  6. Due to low stomach acid, reduced nutrient absorption, and the use of diuretic drugs for hypertension, the elderly are at greatest risk of magnesium deficiency. Most cases go unnoticed because doctors do not perform intracellular testing (see #1 above) and quite often discourage any type of nutritional supplementation.
  7. A quick way to produce kidney stones in animals is to put them on a magnesium deficit diet. Magnesium increases the solubility of calcium in the urine, helping to prevent stone formation. Also, most patients with Chronic Fatigue, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS are deficient in magnesium and would likely benefit from supplemental magnesium.
  8. Magnesium, boron, strontium and many other minerals add significantly to the quality of bones and teeth. Magnesium regulates the absorption and utilization of calcium. Without sufficient magnesium, bone building and joint health suffer. Regardless of calcium intake (usually too much), magnesium deficiency leads to arthritis, brittle bones, and osteoporosis.
  9. Concentrated 18 times greater in the heart muscle than in the bloodstream, magnesium regulates heart beat. Magnesium is vital for the heart, arteries, and the cardiovascular system. People dying as a result of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease have this in common: intracellular magnesium deficiency.
  10. Supplemental calcium and magnesium should be in a 1:1 ratio or perhaps a 2:1 ratio in favor of magnesium. (Multiple vitamins fail in this regard and often contain cheap, poorly absorbed calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide. While natural whole food is always our best source of minerals, magnesium levels in food have declined substantially during the past 100 years (USDA testing). Remember, too, that we cannot absorb minerals in food or supplements without adequate levels of fat-soluble vitamins A & D – found only in animal food. To increase your mineral absorption, use butter (vitamin A) and lard (vitamin D) on a regular basis.

Related sources

Intracellular mineral testing:  http://exatest.com

Readily absorbed ionic magnesium and trace minerals:  http://traceminerals.com

Stress reduction focused on the intelligence of the heart:  http://heartmath.com



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Category: Longevity

Comments (18)

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  1. Vesna says:

    Wow! What an eye-opening article. Thank you, Alan, you make it all fit together so well. I knew magnesium was important, but I never saw it described so well and in such detail.

  2. Carl Bamforth says:

    I have become a huge fan. I used to think I was eating a very healthy diet. Thank you for setting the record straight. I am doing my best to spread your advice to the masses. I leave it to the individual to take hold of the reins and take charge of their own lifes. Many kowever simply refuse to believe they are eing misled. I am now a conspiracy nut, but a healthy one.

    I am really enjoying my new proper eating plan. Although there is still so much more I need to learn. I do finally feel I am on the right track. At 54 years old I am living a life style few twenty year old have ever experienced. I find that very disturbing and now have absolutely no respect for our government agencys. I had already lost all respect for the food industry. I am still having difficulty with the health food industry, who still stock their shelves with Canola Oil product. Buyer beware has a whole knew meaning to me!

    I will be purchasing several copies of your books. They will make great presents for those I love dearly. So one again, thank you for helping me help those I care so deeply for!

    Carl, a big fan

  3. Great article with important information. So many conditions improve with adequate magnesium levels — just taking a break from writing an article on headaches, big sign of magnesium deficiency.

    Do you have a favorite magnesium that people can take plenty of without getting diarrhea?

    Thank you!

  4. Debi says:

    Great post! I started supplementing magnesium after listening to the Underground Wellness podcast about magnesium. I was never able to tolerate it without the side effects, but the magnesium at Zigsaw Health was recommended so I ordered it and am so happy with it.

  5. Alan Watson says:

    Readily absorbed ionic magnesium and trace minerals: http://traceminerals.com

    While I hesitate to endorse commercial products, Trace Minerals Research’s ConcenTrace Mineral Drops are the number one magnesium/trace mineral supplement (40% magnesium; 60% all other minerals). Ionically charged, they are absorbed right into the blood. Use 40-60 drops daily mixed with water. (An 8 oz bottle ($15-$25) lasts 1 person 3 months.)

  6. Alan Watson says:

    Thank you, Carl, your words of encouragement are sincerely appreciated. Please write me with any questions you may have: watson@dietheartpublishing.com

  7. Thanks for the article well done. Hope all is well


  8. Alan Watson says:

    Thank you Bill – your interest is appreciated. I’ve heard The Magnesium Miracle [Carolyn Dean] is a good book on magnesium.

  9. Heed these words… Truly inspired commentary on the importance of Maggie & our Hearts!…

  10. Ron Langley says:

    I totally agree with Alan on all points and this coming from a 68 adult which has suffered from heart skips for about 50 years. I have found a lot of help using Mg however for over 2 years I’ve been trying to adjust Ca, Mg, and K without success. I’ve read about everything possible without much headway, any suggestions would be appreciated.

  11. Ron Langley says:

    I have been having the same problem,,,,,I am now completely staying away from any and all supplemental calcium, I’m taking around 200 mgs of Angstrom magnesium ( under my tounge ) the extra strong type and taking around 2 to 3 supplemental K per day and it seems to be working well….I started on Mag about 2 years ago after suffering from skipped beats for over 50 years with no help from MDs. Hope this helps

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  13. Myss Phytt says:

    Magnesium is like magic for me. I use plain Milk of Magnesia, about 1 tsp sublingually, to stop a misbehaving heart. For over a decade now.

    I also make and drink the inexpensive Mag Water (Mg bicarbonate). It’s a marriage of plain MoM and sparkling water. What could be simpler?

    Plus I snack on raw, hulless pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and sea weed… all high in Mg plus other whole food nutrients.

    Thanks for the great article, I’ve sent the link on to friends.

  14. regime says:

    Thank you for some other wonderful post. The place else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing?
    I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such information.

  15. john Tenza says:

    I like your article about Magnesium but I got a little confused
    about weather magnesium should be taken with calcium or by itself?

    I have been taking magnesium supplements and I feel better ,but should I
    have concerns about calcium and potassium?
    Just in case, you should know that I’m a male.


  16. Alan Watson says:

    If magnesium is taken with calcium, it should be 1:1 ratio (400-500 mg daily). Most people get enough calcium in food, but not enough magnesium. Since magnesium is required to utilize calcium, supplementing with magnesium, alone, will likely increase functional calcium. Since potassium is widely available in food, a supplement is not required (and by law is limited to 100 mg). I no longer sell but always recommend Trace Minerals concentrace liquid mineral drops; they are 39% magnesium and 61% all trace minerals. Swanson’s Health Products in Fargo is a good source – about $20.00 for a 3-month supply for one person. Concentrace contains the minerals your body needs to make bone – and is highly, easily absorbed. I hope this helps! Al W