Magnesium is important for hundreds of bodily processes and can have an effect on virtually every organ system within the body. Therefore, it is important to be sure that your body gets adequate daily amounts.
This macro mineral is a cofactor for over 300 enzymes in the body, and acts in concert with calcium to support cell, tissue, and organ functions. It is also a vital catalyst in the activity of those enzymes involved in energy production.
Magnesium Can Help:
Assist in the uptake of calcium and potassium
- Reduce fibromyalgia symptoms
- Prevent calcification of soft tissue
- Play a role in bone formation
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Detoxify hormones, especially estrogen
- Prevent depression, muscle weakness, and PMS
- Maintain the body’s proper PH
- Maintain normal body temperature
Magnesium and the American Diet
Why is the American diet so low in magnesium? Magnesium is virtually never added back to our soils in synthetic fertilizers, despite the fact that crops continually lower soil magnesium. This is because magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule. It is never added back to our foods after processing as well.
For example, 99% of the magnesium in sugar cane is lost when it is refined into white sugar, while 80 - 96% of the magnesium content of wheat is removed when it is refined into white flour. But magnesium is not added back into so-called enriched flour.1 Fats (e.g. butter, margarine, oils, shortenings) contain no magnesium, and meat and dairy products are generally poor sources of magnesium.1 When vegetables are cooked, 50% of their magnesium may be lost in the cooking water. Therefore, the typical American diet can put one at risk for a magnesium deficiency.
Additionally, those eating a diet high in dairy and low in whole foods have an increased need for magnesium, as dairy typically contains a ratio of 10 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium.
More than 70% of women do not get the minimum Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium from their diets. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, low magnesium levels in post menopausal women can lead to changes in heart rhythm, impaired glucose tolerance, and a decrease in serum cholesterol. For more information, see these articles: Dietary Magnesium Deficiency in Post Menopausal Women - Grand Forks Research Center and Journal of the American College of Nutrition Magnesium Deficiency Research Abstract.
There are many different symptoms that can result from a magnesium deficiency depending upon each bodily system that is being affected; this may include more than one. For example:
- When the skeletal system is affected, one may experience neck and back pain, muscle soreness, TMJ (jaw joint pain), tension headaches, tightness of the chest, and muscle cramping.
- Symptoms involving smooth muscles include menstrual cramping, constipation, urinary spasms, and sensitivity to lights and noise.
- Cardiovascular symptoms may include heart palpitations and arrhythmias, angina, high blood pressure, and mitral valve prolapse.
- When the central nervous system is affected, one may experience insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness, panic attacks, and PMS.
Other Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
- Loss of Coordination
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Chocolate craving
- Salt cravings
- Nausea, Vomiting
- Kidney Stones
Magnesium for Men and Women
Both men and women can be subject to a magnesium deficiency which can lead to many different conditions, including:
- Migraine headaches
- Heart disease
Since the typical American diet usually lacks this important mineral, women and men can benefit from taking supplemental magnesium. According to a UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, magnesium has been shown to help maintain:
- Normal muscle and nerve function
- Keep heart rhythm steady
- Support the immune system
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Promote normal blood pressure
- Strengthen bones
Magnesium levels have been found to be diminished in some women who experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other estrogen dominant related conditions. “In one double-blind, randomized study, women with PMS received placebo or 360 mg. of magnesium three times a day from day 15 of the menstrual cycle to the onset of menstrual flow. Magnesium performed better than placebo in some measures related to premenstrual mood changes.” (PDR for Nutritional Supplements)
“Significant reductions in bone mineral content and serum magnesium have been reported in women with post –menopausal osteoporosis compared to age-matched controls…A couple of studies have demonstrated increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women which was associated with intake of supplemental magnesium. Magnesium influences both matrix and mineral metabolism in bone. Magnesium depletion can cause cessation of bone growth, osteopenia, and increased bone fragility.” PDR for Nutritional Supplements
Magnesium and Calcified Fibroids
Some uterine fibroids, especially older ones, can develop a calcium coating which can get in the way of enzymes trying to dissolve the fibrin within. Your doctor should be able to determine if your fibroid is calcified from a sonogram report. Magnesium, when taken alone without calcium, can help to remove the calcification of uterine fibroid tumors. It can also help remove other forms of calcium deposits, such as those located in the joints.
According to Michael L. Richardson, M.D. at the University of Washington School of Medicine, “almost every calcification that one sees in the soft tissues in actual radiographic practice is due to dystrophic calcification. What does this mean? Simply this: when tissue is damaged, the body responds to this injury in a nonspecific manner by invoking the generic inflammatory response reaction. This sometimes ends with calcification of the damaged tissue.”
Magnesium and Muscle Cramps
Magnesium is a great muscle relaxant, and can relieve cramping of the uterus and other smooth muscles, as well. Dr. Jonathan Wright of Washington State says, "If you suffer from chronic cramping, take an extra 100 mg. of magnesium citrate, every two hours at the first sign of cramps, and make sure you are getting adequate levels of this important mineral throughout the month." Most anyone can take magnesium citrate, whether for fibroids or for general mineral supplementation. To take it in order to remove calcification of a fibroid, a suggested usage is as follows:
Start with two capsules of Energetic Nutrition’s Magnesium Citrate at night before bed and add one capsule per night until you have diarrhea or loose stools the next day. At that point reduce by one capsule each evening until the loose stools stop. This dosage would then be your personal magnesium citrate dose. This is the maximum dosage for you that will not cause loose stools. As always, check with your healthcare professional before taking more than the recommended dosage shown on the bottle of any nutritional supplement.
Magnesium and Osteoporosis
The word osteoporosis means “porous”. It is a disease in which the bones gradually become weaker and weaker. It can cause changes is posture and makes one more susceptible to fractures.
Osteoporosis affects more women than men due to nutritional, physiological, and hormonal differences between them. Many women between the ages of forty-five and seventy-five show
some signs of low bone mass (osteopenia), or osteoporosis. Read
Magnesium Could Reduce Osteoporosis Risk.
Osteoporosis is a world wide health issue that can have detrimental effects on one's quality of life. Even with all the dairy consumption and intake of calcium supplements in the United States, many still suffer with this degenerative disease. It is now believed that there may be another factor involved, such as lack of magnesium and other minerals that may be contributing to this degenerative disease. Read articles Osteoporosis: New Perspectives and Prolonged Magnesium Defeciency Causes Osteoporosis in the Rat.
Bone health is supported by many factors, such as calcium and vitamin D. However, some evidence suggests that a magnesium deficiency may put one at an additional risk for postmenopausal osteoporosis.1 There have been several human studies suggesting that magnesium supplementation may improve bone mineral density.1
One study showed that a greater magnesium intake maintained bone mineral density to a greater degree than a lower magnesium intake involving older adults.2
Magnesium and Fibromyalgia
Those who suffer from symptoms related to fibromyalgia often have a deficiency of magnesium, which can be depleted from the body due to:
- Mental stress
- Lack of sleep
- High sodium diet
- Cola-type sodas
- High perspiration
This important mineral has been shown to help relieve symptoms such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle pain
Magnesium is involved in energy production within muscle cells. It is needed for proper functioning of all muscles and has been shown to relieve spasms and pain. A deficiency of magnesium is believed to increase levels of “substance P”, a chemical which has been implicated as a cause of increased pain levels in those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
Magnesium also has a sedative effect on the nervous system and has been shown to help with symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. One researcher observed decreased levels of nervousness as well as insomnia symptoms in patients supplemented with 200 milligrams of magnesium in combination with 400 milligrams calcium and an association between magnesium deficiency and anxiety symptoms was noted. 3
In addition, studies have shown that patients who were sleep deprived had low magnesium levels. An article in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients by Melvyn R. Werbach noted that “magnesium supplementation has been reported to reduce sleep latency and result in uninterrupted sleep”. Furthermore, a pilot study showed that magnesium is helpful for those suffering from restless leg syndrome, as well as insomnia.
While magnesium is a necessary mineral for the average person, it is especially important for those with symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research - Article on Magnesium
Dr. Lam Article - Magnesium and Aging
Magnesium: The Underappreciated Mineral of Life Part I
Magnesium: The Underappreciated Mineral of Life Part II
1. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
2. Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, Cupples LA, Wilson PW, Kiel DP. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(4):727-36.
3. Seelig MS. Latent tetany and anxiety, marginal Mg deficit, and normocalcemia.
Dis Nerv Syst 1975, 36:461–465.