Magnesium: For Bone Health and Much More

Magnesium deficiency is linked to dozens of health conditions. This list includes anxiety, asthma, blood clots, bowel disease, depression, diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, insomnia, migraine, musculoskeletal problems, and osteoporosis.

In my practice and on the Medical Board of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, I advocate the ‘miracle’ of magnesium based on the overwhelming evidence, but also based on personal stories I hear from people I meet in real life.

Here is an example:  Recently I struck up a conversation with an 80-year-old gentleman while walking along the beach near my house. The prescription medication he took for high cholesterol was causing him to have symptoms of arthritis.  Instead of reducing or eliminating the drug and implementing magnesium supplementation and proper nutrition, the doctor added a strong pain medication and then later added a diuretic.

Too often that’s how the story goes.  It is easier for doctors to prescribe drugs than to come up with a comprehensive nutrition program that includes essential nutrients like magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency often goes undiagnosed and unrecognized because until recently there was no accurate blood test for magnesium. Doctors typically recommended potassium supplements or to eat more oranges and bananas - but little advice is given about magnesium.

Magnesium is not as readily available from food sources as potassium. It is deficient in soil and most fertilizers don’t contain magnesium, so most foods lack this essential mineral. Cooking and processing foods also depletes their magnesium content. And while magnesium is found in whole grains, greens, nuts and seeds - most people don’t eat much, if any, of these foods.

Today the Standard American Diet is just that – SAD. Food sources should be the primary source of nutrients, but our diets are so lacking. And since vitamins and minerals can’t be patented and are relatively inexpensive, it is not surprising that drug companies have no vested interest in promoting nutrients.

All the metabolic processes in the body depend on vitamins and minerals, which act as necessary co-factors. Magnesium itself is a co-factor and responsible for the function of at least 325 enzymes and likely hundreds more. It keeps toxic chemicals out of the brain; dances with calcium to create nerve impulses and muscle impulses; keeps muscles relaxed including the heart and blood vessels; and triggers dozens of health conditions if it is deficient.

Magnesium is absolutely necessary to direct calcium into bone. Supplementation with calcium and Vitamin D (which together enhance calcium absorption) without a balancing amount of magnesium may cause further magnesium deficiency and trigger a series of events leading to bone loss and eventually osteoporosis.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is between 350 and 400 mg. But for optimal health and for deficiency, twice and sometimes three times as much may be needed. Kelp is one of the highest sources of magnesium but one teaspoon only has about 30 mg.  Because we probably don’t get nearly enough magnesium from diet we should add a supplement.

There are several types of magnesium.  Magnesium citrate in powder form can be used as a tea to be sipped through the day. Magnesium taurate attaches an amino acid, taurine, to magnesium and is especially useful for heart disease; and there is  magnesium oil (made from magnesium chloride saturated in distilled water) that can be used topically. I personally use a pico-ionic form of magnesium because it is 100% absorbed at the cellular level.

If you think you have magnesium deficiency my recommendation is to begin slowly taking it in supplement form. If you’re not sure - ask your doctor for a Magnesium RBC blood test and aim for a result above 6mg/dL.

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