The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is finally getting the recognition it deserves, albeit slowly. We, in the business of minerals, respect the multiple functions that they serve in the human body. We know the validity of the health-enhancing, restorative results that supplementing with our minerals can achieve; and have access to research that substantiates the functions of various minerals in the human body.

Not a day goes by that we don’t get calls from individuals who tell us how they have been helped with our minerals. Many of these people then take their claims to the medical doctors who are at times less than receptive. What we need to keep in mind is the fact that medical doctors do not really understand nutrition. It is not taught in most medical schools. They suffer from “I never learned that in medical school, so it can’t be true” syndrome.

Magnesium is important for over 300 enzyme systems in the body and most of it is stored in the tissues. Only 1% circulates in the blood. You can understand how easy it would be for a doctor to assume you had adequate magnesium by blood test results. Most doctors will refer to your blood test even if your symptoms are screaming magnesium deficiency. Obvious magnesium deficiencies could easily be treated unnecessarily with prescription medication if a doctor has not investigated nutritional medicine. The first response for irregular heartbeat, edema, depression, muscle pain or cramping, or poor sleep quality, would most probably be further testing and pharmaceutical drugs, or both.

In a country where we are told to take excessively large doses of calcium, it becomes obvious that doctors do not understand the complete biochemistry of mineral interaction in the body. Magnesium deficiency is often caused by excessive intake of calcium. The problem becomes more complicated because PTH (pituitary thyroid hormone) becomes elevated as a result of low magnesium levels that in turn prevents the utilization of absorbed calcium for bone formation and increases calcification in soft tissue. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 1990; 36:503 cites a study in which women consumed 500mg of calcium and 600mg of magnesium a day and experienced new healthy bone growth.

Magnesium levels fall at night and if our levels are too low it can cause muscle cramping and affect REM sleep. When we are sleep deprived our immunity decreases, and a major cause of poor sleep quality is the lack of serotonin. Magnesium is a very important factor in serotonin production; low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when you stop to consider that there are 300 enzymatic actions dependent on magnesium. It is easy to become passionate about something as elemental as minerals when you stop and think about them as the foundation for optimal health. These simple components of life are often under-appreciated for the power they contain to keep us vital. You cannot get more basic than minerals.

Rick Wagner