Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

December 5th, 2022

: A major cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body! It is necessary in adequate levels for energy production, insulin function, protein synthesis and blood pressure regulation and muscle/nerve function. That is every major system in the body! Oh and by the way you need it to make and protect DNA/RNA and glutathione (my personal favorite). Magnesium is located about half in our bones and the other half in tissues.

Our blood has less than 1%. Our kidneys keep the blood level of magnesium in tight control.

"However, recent reports estimate that at least 60% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily amount of Mg2+. Part of the problem stems from the soil used for agriculture, which is becoming increasingly deficient in essential minerals. Over the last 60 years the Mg2+ content in fruit and vegetables decreased by 20–30%. Moreover, the Western diet contains more refined grains and processed food. Estimates are that 80–90% of Mg2+ is lost during food processing. As a result, a significant number of people are Mg2+ deficient, which may comprise up to 60% of critically ill patients. Mg2+ deficiency is commonly determined by measuring total serum Mg2+concentrations, which ranges between 0.7 and 1.05 mM in a healthy person. However, serum Mg2+ values reflect only 1% of the body Mg2+ content, since most of the body's Mg2+ is stored in bone, muscle, and soft tissues. Therefore, although serum values are within the normal range, the body can be in a severely Mg2+-depleted state. Consequently, the clinical impact of Mg2+ deficiency may be largely underestimated." (Debaaij et. al. 2015) Frankly, the clinical benefit of magnesium in children has been profound in our clinic.

It is obvious that this mineral is insanely important to us! Where can we get it? The best HEALTHY sources of mag are spinach, nuts, beans, oatmeal, avocado, soy, potato and banana. Fish, chicken and beef have reasonable amounts as well. Epsom salts and supplements are also major human sources of intake and exposure.

Insufficiency and deficiency occurs primarily in people with gastroenterological disorders (Crohns, celiac and ulcerative colitis), alcoholism, type 2 diabetes and a poor quality diet. Medicines like antacid proton pump inhibitors, certain antibiotics and diuretics will lower magnesium levels.

Magnesium deficiency causes problems with blood pressure control and heart function. Osteoporosis is a long term consequence of chronic magnesium insufficiency. Migraine headaches are associated with low magnesium levels. Diabetics lose more magnesium in their urine because of elevated blood sugar levels. The low magnesium in turn worsens insulin sensitivity. A vicious cycle!

We use it frequently in the emergency setting to save a life when someone is dying from a cardiac arrhythmia or asthma attack.

Insufficiency is also a problem for neurological function. Low magnesium levels are associated with increased anxiety, insomnia, constipation, ADD, IBS, chronic fatigue and a laundry list of other issues. Low magnesium in the face of reactive oxygen species elevations from exercise, infections, chemicals and more would lead to DNA and RNA damage. This leads to premature senescence, aging and age related diseases.

In order to absorb magnesium well, you need vitamin D and B6 as well as selenium and the amino acid taurine. This of course happens naturally when we eat vegetables, fruits and get sun exposure.

Take home point: if you feel mentally or physically tight, you are likely low in magnesium. Load up the nuts, organic spinach, salmon, organic soy and beans. Get out in the sun for 20 minutes daily without sunscreen. If that does not work, take magnesium supplements like magnesium taurate or glycinate. Watch out for citrate - it can give you a nasty bout of #3 or offer benefits where one is constipated.

Dr. M

DeBaaij J Physio Reviews
Oregon State Univ Site