An essential mineral for bone health and beyond

The essential minerals are nutrients that the human body requires in relatively large amounts (greater than 100mg per day). All minerals are vital in the body. These include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium. Some minerals help maintain the body’s fluid balance, for example sodium, chloride, and potassium. And some play a role in bone growth and health, for example calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Dr. Carolyn Dean is a medical and naturopathic doctor who has written 30 books. She talks about the importance of getting enough magnesium in our diet, and how important it is to get the correct form and correct amounts when supplementing. In her book “The Magnesium Miracle” she lists 100 reason why you may need magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium is one of the major minerals, and an essential nutrient. It plays a vital role in the body and has numerous benefits, helping to guard against and alleviate conditions including heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and asthma, and is also required for glutathione synthesis. Many in North America are dangerously deficient of magnesium, with around 80% of the population taking less than the RDA.

Some of the symptoms associated with a magnesium deficiency include irregular heart beat, weakness, muscle spams, anxiety, memory problems, loss of appetite, asthma, depression, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, coronary artery disease and hypertensions.

There are a multitude of reasons why magnesium can deplete in the body, including prescription drugs, fluoride, vaccine, stress, and exercise. Fluoride and fluorine in water, from dental procedures, in toothpaste, and in drugs, such as Prozac, Lipitor, and Cipro, bind magnesium, making it unavailable to the body and leading to a deficiency, even when taking supplements. In addition, antacids counteract stomach acid, decreasing magnesium absorption. Stomach acid deficiency due to stress results in decreased absorption of magnesium. Stress or trauma of any type — physical, mental, emotional, environmental — can also cause magnesium deficiency. Alcohol and caffeine cause magnesium depletion due to their diuretic effect, and caffeine also stimulates the adrenal glands, causing adrenaline surges and magnesium loss. Prolonged psychological stress raises adrenaline, the stress hormone, which depletes magnesium. Low potassium levels can increase urinary magnesium loss, and high-protein diets can decrease magnesium absorption and require more magnesium for digestion and assimilation. Refining grains, especially rice and wheat, reduces magnesium. And food processing and cooking also decrease magnesium levels.

Another factor is soil depletion — 100 years ago people were getting 500mg magnesium from their food, today only 200mg. Round-up (glyphosate) herbicides bind with minerals and cause depleted soil, and pesticides kill worms and bacteria and thus their function of processing the soil and breaking down minerals is lost, which means fewer minerals are absorbed by plants. Soil erosion makes it easier for heavy rain or irrigation to wash away soil, leading to a loss of minerals, including magnesium. And fertilizers do not replace necessary minerals, but are high in phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. Excess potassium and phosphorus are preferentially absorbed into plants, inhibiting magnesium absorption.

Magnesium is required for many aspects of vitamin D metabolism, and high dosages of vitamin D can cause magnesium deficiency. Supplementing calcium can also cause magnesium deficiency. According Dr. Dean’s book, she suggests the need to balance magnesium and calcium by supplementing with about 600mg of magnesium and getting 600mg of calcium from the diet. However, many people are on a dairy-free diet and just don’t get enough calcium. If the reason is lactose intolerance, then yogurt or kefir, bone broth, and non-lactose raw cheese are good alternatives.

If the body is deficient, beginning supplementation can actually make you feel worse. Magnesium goes into the cells and detoxifies chemicals and heavy metals, and sometimes this can feel like a healing reaction, with symptoms including an increase in muscle pain, joint pain and even skin rashes. That’s why it’s recommend to build up the dosage of magnesium slowly as the cells detoxify, and are finally able to work efficiently. Excessive magnesium can also cause diarrhea.

Magnesium supplements have 9 different types, and it’s crucial to choose the best form and amounts to match what the individual body needs. The cheapest source is magnesium oxide, with only 4% absorption; chelated magnesium glycinate provides 20% absorption. Other alternative forms are magnesium citrate powder and magnesium threonate, which will actually also help brain health, as well as food-grade epsom salt baths.

Dr. Dean’s recommendation is the pico-ionic form “ReMag”, which provides 100% absorption without a laxative effect. This is magnesium chloride, and even though it contains only 12 percent magnesium, it has better absorption than other forms.

Magnesium is also found naturally in plant products such as seaweeds, organically grown dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, squash, beans, nuts (almonds and cashews), seeds, whole grains, chocolate, dry beans and peas, bananas, dried apricots, and avocados. Oxalic acid (found in rhubarb, spinach, and chard) and phytic acid (found in cereal grains and soy) block the absorption of magnesium, and junk foods, especially sugar products, drain magnesium. The liver needs 28 atoms of magnesium to process one molecule of glucose, while fructose requires 56 atoms of magnesium.

To determine your magnesium saturation point, a magnesium RBC test is available. The range is usually given as 4.2–6.9 mg/dL; the optimum level is between 6.0–6.5mg/dL. This is not a definitive magnesium test, but it gives a good idea of magnesium saturation. Dr. Dean suggested that we have to do our own research and certainly check magnesium RBC blood levels to know what the numbers are before making any decisions.

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