MAGNESIUM – The Multipurpose Mineral
WE ARE often reminded of the importance of many minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc for good health. However, magnesium, another versatile mineral, is often neglected. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is found mainly in our bones, muscles, and nervous system.
It features in more than 300 different biochemical reactions in our bodies and is critical to health and wellness.
Medical research indicates, however, that magnesium deficiency is widespread in both poor and developed countries and may contribute to a long list of common health problems.
The list of magnesium deficiency disorders includes angina, asthma, irregular heart beat, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, constipation, depression, digestive disorders like the irritable bowel syndrome, dizziness, high cholesterol, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, seizures, poor concentration, migraines, headaches, muscle cramps, spasms and weakness, kidney stones, premenstrual symptoms, menstrual pain, sugar cravings, and temper tantrums.
Magnesium is widely distributed in whole unprocessed foods. Green leafy vegetables, apples, bananas, avocados, legumes, soybeans, tofu, peas, beans, nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium as are some herbs and spices like chamomile, dandelion, garlic, hops, and kelp. Green juices are also a good source. Although the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is about 300 to 400mg/day, as much as three times this amount may be needed for optimal health.
It may be more magnesium rather than calcium that you need for strong bones. Although the RDA for calcium has been doubled and Western women have increased their calcium intake, osteoporosis has increased instead of gone down. Magnesium deficiency alters calcium metabolism, resulting in osteoporosis. Research studies show that calcium plus magnesium and vitamin D supplementation improves bone density and prevents osteoporosis.
HELPING THE HEART
Surveys show that sufficient magnesium intake may reduce the likelihood of stroke and lower the risk of coronary heart diseases. Magnesium deficiency increases the risk of abnormal heartbeat and death after a heart attack. Magnesium supplements are very beneficial to the heart and cardiovascular health.
Magnesium plays a key role in naturally regulating blood pressure, and in fact, most people with hypertension are magnesium deficient. Magnesium supplements and a magnesium-rich diet consistently lowers high blood pressure. The expensive hypertension prescription drugs known as 'calcium channel blockers' prevent excess calcium from entering the walls of the blood vessels, hardening the arteries and causing high blood pressure. Inexpensive magnesium is nature's best calcium channel blocker.
Studies show that individuals with a magnesium deficiency are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and its complications. Magnesium aids in carbohydrate metabolism and influences the activity of insulin and blood sugar control. Research has proven that for every 100mg of increased daily magnesium intake, there was a 15 per cent fall in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that diabetics with magnesium deficiency are likely to have severe diabetic eye disease complications.
migraines, mental health
Magnesium benefits also include the treatment of migraines, insomnia, and nervous tension. Magnesium also helps many types of psychiatric problems including panic attacks, stress disorders, anxiety, and agitation. Magnesium supplements considerably reduce the severity of such attacks and also helps in preventing them. Magnesium is often called the anti-stress mineral because it has a calming effect and induces restful sleep. It is very useful for the person with an overactive nervous system or who is hot-tempered or agitated. Magnesium is so important to the nervous system that the brain stores twice as much magnesium as other body tissues.
Another benefit of magnesium is relief from constipation. If your body lacks calcium and magnesium, you may have inadequate peristalsis, which are those automatic contractions of the colon that happen during a bowel movement. Peristalsis moves the stool through the colon,
and an imbalance in calcium and magnesium may slow
or stop this action and cause constipation.
Magnesium relaxes the airways and acts as a natural bronchodilator for asthma. Magnesium given by intravenous injection works even when powerful drugs fail to stop an asthma attack. However, surveys show that doctors rarely give asthmatic patients magnesium as part of their treatment.
Research at Harvard University clearly demonstrated that taking magnesium along with vitamin B6 significantly reduces the formation of kidney stones made from calcium.
In addition to eating magnesium-rich foods, I advise taking magnesium supplements. Use forms of magnesium such as magnesium chloride, citrate, aspartate, or orotate capsules as these formulations are absorbed best. When combining magnesium with calcium, use a ratio of
two parts calcium to one part magnesium. From 500 to 1,500 mg of magnesium daily in divided dosages is usually adequate.
Soaking in a bath with magnesium chloride (mag-nesium oil), or magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), or using it to massage the body is another excellent way to administer magnesium as the mineral is absorbed directly through
People with advanced kidney disease should consult their doctor about the use of magnesium supplements.
- You may email Dr Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. His books and articles are available on his website, www.tonyvendryes.com.