Magnesium: Often underestimated, always important

Protein and nucleic acid synthesis, nerve conduction, cell membrane transport and muscular function all depend on magnesium.

Protein and nucleic acid synthesis, nerve conduction, cell membrane transport and muscular function all depend on magnesium.

by Dr. Mark Force — 

Magnesium has many varied and crucial functions in the body. This electrolyte is critical to the production of energy (ATP) in the mitochondria of every cell in your body through the citric acid cycle. Protein and nucleic acid synthesis, nerve conduction, cell membrane transport and muscular function all depend on magnesium.

Magnesium has a vasodilative effect in that it normalizes the rate and rhythm, blood pressure and stroke volume of the heart. Magnesium supplementation has been observed to be useful in the treatment of angina and myocardial ischemia. Digitalis therapy for heart disease may cause magnesium deficiency, with alcoholics at particular risk (they often need thiamine, or B-1, in addition). As an inverse relationship exists between magnesium and histamine levels, magnesium supplementation can help control allergies.

Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with psychiatric disorders such as panic attacks, sleep disorders, depression, psychoses, seizures, attention deficit disorder and anxiety states, including psychogenic asthma. Magnesium deficiency has even been proposed as a possible trigger for schizophrenia. Magnesium-deficient patients tend toward depression, agitation, confusion and disorientation. Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported in as many as 50 percent of people who are magnesium deficient.

Magnesium is an important co-factor to the function of B-1 and B-6. These vitamins are essential to the synthesis of the neurotransmitters GABA, serotonin, melatonin, acetylcholine and histamine.

In addition, vitamin E levels are adversely affected by magnesium deficiency, and vitamin E supplementation produces only a slight increase in tissue levels of the vitamin when magnesium is deficient. Magnesium supplementation has been reported as useful therapy for people who talk in their sleep, grind their teeth, startle awake, have nightmares, suffer from noise intolerance or experience night cramps.

Magnesium supplementation can enhance oxygen utilization and lactic acid clearance. Magnesium is an important co-factor (with zinc and B-6) for the synthesis of the PG1 and PG2 series of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are well known to have important anti-inflammatory and anti-blood-clotting actions.

Serum magnesium can be a useful screening test for magnesium deficiency; levels of 2.0 or greater are sufficient. If your lab results reveal levels below 2.0, assume a magnesium deficiency. The most reliable and expensive test for magnesium deficiency is through red blood magnesium.

The best food sources for magnesium are whole grains, nuts and seeds, cocoa and chlorophyll-rich leafy plants, but supplements are also effective. Magnesium is best dosed at night before bed. Start with one tablet and increase by one tablet each successive night until you notice a slightly loose stool the next morning. This test indicates your bowel tolerance and suggests your maximum uptake of magnesium. For instance, with a loose stool resulting from taking three tablets of magnesium the previous night, your ideal dosage is two tablets. You will be surprised by how well you sleep with this program.

 

Mark Force, D.C., is a chiropractic physician at The Elements of Health in north Scottsdale, Ariz. He practices functional and natural healthcare and is the author of Choosing Health: Dr. Force’s Functional Selfcare Workbook. 480-563-4256 or www.theelementsofhealth.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 6, December 2005/January 2006.

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