Magnesium is required for the activation of vitamin D, and deficiency may
increase your risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease, migraines,
osteoporosis and more.
Statistics show that at least 50 percent of the American population are
deficient in magnesium; a simple blood panel may not reveal magnesium
deficiency as only 1 percent is available in your blood and the rest is stored
in your bones and muscle.
Research suggests magnesium is necessary for optimal heart and kidney
health as it protects your arteries from calcification; it has also shown
effectiveness in treatment or prevention of migraines, anxiety and
Seek out organically grown, whole foods rich in magnesium, such as
spinach, broccoli and avocado; if you choose to supplement, consider
magnesium chloride, the most efficent vehicle.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in your body, and one of
the seven essential minerals we can’t live without. It's necessary for the
healthy functioning of most cells, but especially theart, kidneys and
muscles. Low levels of magnesium impede cellular metabolic function and
deteriorate mitochondrial function.
As it is also required for the activation of vitamin D, deficiency may hamper
your ability to convert vitamin D from sun exposure and/or oral
supplementation. Unfortunately, deficiency is common and research shows
even subclinical deficiencies may jeopardize your health.
If you've recently had a blood panel drawn, you may assume it would reveal
a magnesium deficiency. However, only 1 percent of magnesium is
distributed in your blood, which means a blood test is not useful to
determine whether you are deficient at the cellular level. Recent research
confirms optimal levels of magnesium are necessary for your heart and
Magnesium Deficiency Affects the Vast Majority
Statistics show that at least 50 percent of Americans are deficient in
magnesium, with some estimations going as high as 75 percent overall, and
as many as 84 percent of postmenopausal women being deficient in it.
Scientists believe deficiency affects the vast majority of individuals based
on current dietary habits, saying:
“Because of chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop
magnesium contents and the availability of refined and processed foods,
the vast majority of people in modern societies are at risk for magnesium
The recommended daily allowances (RDA) for magnesium are based on
age, gender and pregnancy status. Although it may be difficult to pinpoint
the exact percentage of individuals who suffer from magnesium deficiency,
data do demonstrate subclinical levels of magnesium contribute to a
number of widespread health problems.
The number who suffer from deficiency increases with an aging population
as the elderly tend to consume less and don’t efficiently absorb magnesium
from what is eaten.
Digestive disorders, such as Crohn's disease and celiac, may also affect
magnesium absorption. Individuals who suffer from Type 2 diabetes or use
diuretics may lose more magnesium through their urine.
As the number of people suffering Type 2 diabetes is growing, and the age
at which the condition arises is getting younger, the number who are also
at risk for magnesium deficiency is also rising. Type 2 diabetes is associated
with a number of health conditions also linked to magnesium deficiency,
including heart disease and kidney disease.
Magnesium is required for energy production and is a cofactor in more
than 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions, including
muscle and nerve function and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also
helps regulate your blood vessels and helps prevent calcification known as
coronary artery calcification (CAC).
CAC is an indicator of advanced atherosclerosis, a common predictor of
cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.
In 1948, researchers undertook a nearly 70-year long heart study under the
direction of the National Heart Institute.The Framingham Heart Study
became a joint project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and
Boston University with the objective to identify factors contributing to
Researchers recently examined data of magnesium intake in those free of
cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the Framingham Heart Study and
followed them over a period of 11 years.
They found a strong association between higher self-reported magnesium
intake and lower calcification in the coronary arteries, which translates to
lower risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers believe this may play a role in magnesium's protective
association in stroke and fatal coronary artery disease. The data also
revealed a lower risk of abdominal aortic calcification,also associated with
cardiovascular disease. A second study analyzed the associated risk of
hypomagnesemia with diabetes and hypertension, which can contribute to
a decline in kidney function.
The hypothesis was that subclinical levels contributed to a decline in
glomerular filtration rate. Researchers engaged over 2,000 participants
from the Dallas Heart Study. During a median follow-up of seven years,
researchers evaluated glomerular filtration rate, biochemical parameters,
C-reactive proteins and the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes.
The results led the researchers to conclude subclinical levels of magnesium
were independently associated with decline in glomerular filtration rates,
indicating declining kidney function.
Magnesium is a natural calcium antagonist and has several effects on
vasodilation, regulation and changes in metabolism enhancing
atherosclerotic changes in arterial stiffness, likely in part contributing to
heart and kidney disease.
Magnesium contributes to the structural development of bone, and adult
bone contains nearly 60 percent of the total magnesium in your body. As it
is involved in bone formation, subclinical levels may contribute to the
development of osteoporosis.
Research has found women with osteoporosis have lower serum
magnesium levels than those without osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Magnesium is also fundamental for physical performance. Just as it
contributes to heart muscle contraction, skeletal muscles also require
magnesium to relax muscle cramping, and it is a cornerstone for circulatory
Magnesium is also important in energy regulation and plays a role in
oxygen delivery and uptake in muscle. The relationship between
magnesium and circulation also affects your brain. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard,
co-director of the University of Rochester Center for Translational
Neuromedicine, commented on the energy supply needed by the brain:
“Our brains require a tremendous amount of energy and in order to meet
this demand the flow of blood must be precisely choreographed to ensure
that oxygen is being delivered where it is needed and when it is needed.
This study demonstrates that microvessels in the brain play a key role in
reacting to spikes in demand and accelerating the flow of blood to respond
to neuronal activity.”
Although the brain is just 2 percent of your body weight, it uses nearly 20
percent of your oxygen supply in metabolic processes, remaining
remarkably constant despite changes in mental and motor activities.
Magnesium facilitates processing in the neural networks and is used to
keep the blood-brain barrier healthy.
Magnesium has proven to be essential for learning, concentration and
memory and enables the brain's plasticity, or its ability to adapt to
challenges. Additionally, maintaining optimal levels of magnesium has
proven effective in reducing the number of attacks and the number of days
per month you may experience a migraine.
In a comparison against valproate sodium, a medication used to help
prevent migraine headache attacks, a randomized, controlled, double-blind
study indicated 500 milligrams (mgs) of magnesium per day was an
effective prophylaxis, similar to the effectiveness experienced by those
taking valproate sodium, without side effects.
Anxiety disorders affect up to 13 percent of the population in the U.S. The
condition may be debilitating, and like other mental disorders, it exists on a
spectrum. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with increasing
levels of noradrenaline, leading to a higher heart rate and blood pressure.
Conversely, optimal levels of magnesium may decrease the release of
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), responsible for the controlled release
of cortisol. Essentially, this means the release of fewer stress hormones and
the modulation of the ones released.
Optimal levels of dietary intake are also inversely associated with anxiety
and depression. In an outpatient clinic treating 126 adults with mild to
moderate symptoms, researcher found supplementation with magnesium
chloride for six weeks resulted in clinically significant improvements in
depression and anxiety without side effects.
Vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or 50
nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) have repeatedly been shown to raise your risk
of a number of health conditions, including depression and Type 2 diabetes.
According to the most recent research, a vitamin D level between 60 and 80
ng/mL (150 and 200 nmol/L) appears to offer the greatest protection
against cancer and other chronic diseases.
Adequate vitamin D levels may also help prevent or treat dry eye
syndrome, macular degeneration, neurological diseases, fractures and
obesity. Adequate levels of vitamin D also lower your mortality risk
associated with heart disease, and may lower your risk of mortality from all
One of the biggest culprits behind deficiencies is processed foods, which
unfortunately have become a staple in the American diet. Some of the
magnesium-rich foods you may add to your diet include:
- Swiss chard
- Bok Choy
- Beet greens
- Turnip greens
- Seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews and raw almonds
- Brussels sprouts
An interesting number of factors may affect your ability to absorb
magnesium from your foods. Herbicides like glyphosate act as agricultural
chelators, effectively obstructing the uptake of minerals from the soil in
many foods grown today. As a result, it may be quite difficult to find truly
magnesium-rich foods. Cooking and processing further depletes
Meanwhile, certain foods may actually influence your body's absorption of
magnesium. High levels of sugar intake may trigger excretion of magnesium
through your kidneys, "resulting in a net loss," according to Dr. Danine
Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida.