The American public often latches onto a vitamin or mineral supplement because of a reported benefit for a specific ailment. An obvious example is vitamin C, which was promoted as a possible micronutrient to prevent and also reduce the severity of a cold. The obsession with this vitamin no doubt led to increased sales of orange juice. Drugstores will usually stock their shelves with numerous brands of vitamin C set at eye level for optimal product placement. Although vitamin C is certainly valuable and has many benefits, a result of all this attention is that it causes the public to ignore many other important micro nutrients. One example is magnesium.
Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 66 percent of it found in bone and 33 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted through the kidneys. Magnesium is involved in 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from ATP production to protein synthesis, so it is obviously important for optimal athletic performance and a high quality of life.
Only one percent of magnesium is found in blood, and you need to measure the red blood cell magnesium value to get a true estimate of the deficiency level. Serum magnesium, the standard test used by medical doctors, means nothing until you are about to die. Your lab results can show “within range” magnesium in your serum, and yet you can be very deficient in magnesium. Again, measuring red blood cell magnesium is the only valid assessment of your magnesium, so make sure your doctor checks the proper box when he or she requests lab work.
The ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diets of the Paleolithic man was 1.3 to 1, but the diet that is commonly used now has shifted that ratio to 5 to 1. The main culprit is the inclusion of dairy products in the modern diet. The calcium-to-magnesium ratios found respectively in milk, yogurt and hard cheeses are 7:1, 11:1, and 26:1.
At the turn of the millennium most Americans were getting enough magnesium from their diets, but now the literature suggests that between 54 percent and 75 percent of the general population is magnesium deficient. Similar patterns of deficiency have been reported in the Western world. A survey conducted in France in the mid-1990s found that 72 percent of men and 77 percent of women obtained less than the RDA of magnesium from their diets.
Magnesium is the most common deficiency seen in athletes; one reason is that resistance training increases magnesium requirements. In fact, during the last 12 years I have yet to see a first-time trainee I’ve worked with have acceptable magnesium levels.
A Primer on Magnesium
Because we tend to have more interest in supplements if we can associate it with a specific medical conditions, such has been the case with Vitamin C and the common cold, I’ve come up with the following categories of conditions that magnesium can help.
Constipation. Constipation is a dead giveaway of magnesium deficiency, and the good news is that magnesium supplementation often eliminates constipation in patients. Normal digestion involves two to three soft bowel movements a day, but the average person has a hard bowel movement once every two days. As a bonus, improved transit time through the gastrointestinal tract is known to reduce the risk of a host of diseases, particularly colon cancer.
Fatigue. A classic sign of magnesium deficiency is poor energy levels. I’ve found that restoring magnesium levels in clients is always associated with increased energy levels. If you take magnesium before bed and you cannot fall asleep, it is a sign that you are extremely deficient in magnesium; therefore start taking it earlier in the day.
Insulin Sensitivity. A magnesium deficiency will hamper your insulin sensitivity, making it harder to get lean and to store glycogen so you can recover from workouts. Magnesium increases the number and sensitivity of insulin receptors, and it is involved in carbohydrate tolerance. Increasing magnesium also improves glucose homeostasis, insulin action and insulin secretion.
Hyperactivity. Magnesium has been shown to improve attention span in children. A mere 200 mg of magnesium daily is sufficient to significantly decrease hyperactivity in children.
Inflammation. Ensuring optimal magnesium levels is one of the best ways to lower C-reactive proteins, an important inflammation marker. A recent study suggested that improving magnesium levels minimizes the risk of congestive heart failure.
Metabolic Syndrome. Magnesium supplementation can help in the treatment of metabolic syndrome, which includes disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The lower your levels of magnesium, the greater the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
Memory. Magnesium is essential for a great memory. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown that magnesium regulates a key receptor in the brain that deals with memory and learning. They proposed the idea that maintaining proper magnesium in the cerebrospinal fluid is essential for maintaining the plasticity of synapses. Further, magnesium is necessary for the proper activity of many enzymes within brain cells that control cellular and memory functions, and also has been shown to play a major role in neurotransmitter release.
Osteoporosis. The primary message coming from the dairy industry is that you need calcium for strong bones and to help prevent osteoporosis. True, but you can’t have healthy and strong bones without adequate magnesium. In fact, the best time to take magnesium is before you are born! I say this because a mother’s magnesium intake directly correlates with her offspring’s bone mineral content.
A study on teenage girls conducted at Yale University School of Medicine demonstrated that 300 mg of supplemental magnesium increased bone mineral content in those subjects when taken over a one-year period. The effects in preventing osteoporosis in the later years are even more evident in subjects who have inadequate levels of magnesium in their diets. Even more interesting, the form of magnesium used in this study was not even the most potent one on the market. They used magnesium oxide which is the lowest quality offered on the market.
Sleep. The human nervous system is sent into sympathetic overdrive when it is magnesium deficient; and when the nervous system is too jacked up, it is hard to get restful sleep. The lack of sleep will also contribute to overtraining. Several studies have pointed out that a lack of magnesium can alter electrical activity in the brain, causing agitated sleep and frequent awakenings. In a study from England, there was a strong association for more disturbed and excitable patients to have abnormal (either high or low) magnesium levels. The authors advanced that theory that the patients who seemed most disturbed may have some abnormality of magnesium metabolism.
Stress. Magnesium is essential for the detoxification of cortisol. The more stress you have, regardless of the source, the more cortisol you have.
Central Obesity. In my Biosignature Modulation program, the waist measurement can suggest a magnesium deficiency. This is because the greater your magnesium level, the greater your HDL levels; and the lower your blood glucose, the lower your waist circumference.
Getting the Magnesium You Need
Any fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids is also high in magnesium, so that’s one way to help get your daily requirement of magnesium. But the fact is, most people will need up to two grams of supplemental magnesium for at least six months before their red blood cell magnesium reaches optimal levels.
Faster results are obtained when multiple forms are supplied, such as magnesium orotate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium lysinate, magnesium fumarate, etc. This is why I have designed Über Mag the way I did. This formula restores magnesium levels rapidly by providing four forms of magnesium, so that different target tissues uptake the magnesium. To accelerate the process, use Perfect E 3.0. Perfect E 3.0 contains the Gamma tocopherol form of this important vitamin, which is often missing in many of the inferior vitamin E formulas you find in discount department stores. I also recommend D3 Excellence, which contains vitamin D3 and helps to boost magnesium levels.
As you can see magnesium deficiency is omnipresent in the Western world, since so many vital functions in your body depend on it, going without ensuring adequate levels is playing with your health. On the fortunate side, magnesium supplements are inexpensive, readily available, and convenient.
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Waterfall Health and Nutrition Database. Magnesium 2000
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