Daily Aspirin… or daily Magnesium?
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
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Category: Optimal Diet