Did you know that there is a mineral so important to human health that at least 700 processes in the body cannot function without it? A deficiency in this mineral can be linked to at least 65 commonly diagnosed health conditions. Without enough of this mineral to regulate calcium, muscles tighten and cramp and arteries harden.
It is a mineral that is little understood because the medical establishment is quick to sow fears of mineral toxicity, even though the body has a marvelous way of regulating and expelling this mineral when it receives more than it needs. And, it is no longer readily available in our food, so you can’t just assume that you’re getting enough through your diet.
I’m talking about magnesium.
Why Haven’t We Heard About Magnesium?
People are more magnesium-aware than they were sixteen years ago when I began my magnesium crusade, so I’m grateful for that. However, the vast majority of schoolchildren are never exposed to nutritional education in school. What about doctors—the people who should know the biochemical workings of the body? Unfortunately, doctors generally do not learn about nutrition or nutrient supplementation in medical school because they are studying disease, not wellness.
I like to talk about my 200 hours of biochemistry in medical school, where I learned about all the nutrient cofactors necessary for every biochemical reaction. But I was likely the only one who recognized their importance because of my extensive study of nutrition before I went into medicine.
When you visit a medical doctor, in your mind you may think you are going there to improve your health or prevent illness, but doctors have little time to educate their patients about how to keep themselves well. What’s on their mind is searching for a diagnosis for your symptoms and matching a drug to their diagnosis.
Patients often will not change their lifestyle or improve their nutrition on their own, believing that if diet and supplements were so important, the doctor would have told them. Nutrition is not even a medical specialty. It wasn’t a specialty when I went to medical school in the 1970s and it still isn’t today! That’s why you won’t hear most of this information from your doctor—because it’s outside his or her field of knowledge and expertise.
Basically, doctors only know what they know, and if you ask them anything about health and disease that they don’t know, they will simply say it’s not important. It’s not important because they never learned about it in medical school, which was supposed to teach them everything. Do you see how dangerous this cyclical logic can be?
Top 10 Magnesium Facts
I want to give you a taste of the importance of magnesium, and I’ll do that with my Top 10 Magnesium Facts, which are discussed in more detail in the 2017 edition of my book The Magnesium Miracle.
- Magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of 700–800 enzyme systems in the body—that’s why it can be implicated in scores of symptoms and dozens of health conditions. I mention some of these enzyme systems in Chapter 2 in “Magnesium’s Many Roles.”
- Most people (70–80 percent) are magnesium deficient.
- Calcium depletes magnesium in the body, and many people get too much calcium, either as supplements, in fortified foods, or in dairy products. I cover this in “The Dance of Calcium and Magnesium” in Chapter 1.
- Magnesium is very deficient in the soil and in the food supply, so it must be supplemented. This information is detailed in Chapter 2.
- Therapeutic doses of magnesium are impossible to obtain in those who suffer the laxative effect before their symptoms can be relieved. Fortunately, people can now get a picometer form of magnesium that can be taken without the laxative effect. See Chapter 18 for more details.
- Mitochondrial dysfunction is no longer a mystery. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy molecules are made in the mitochondria via the Krebs cycle. Six of the eight steps in that cycle depend on magnesium. See Chapter 16 for more information.
- To help you identify your magnesium needs, I’ve created the list “100 Factors Related to Magnesium Deficiency” detailed in the chapters of my book.
- The definitive test that would tell you your magnesium levels, the ionized magnesium blood test, is not available to the public. A helpful but less accurate test, magnesium RBC, must be used in conjunction with your clinical symptoms. The serum magnesium test is highly inaccurate, yet it is still the standard test used in hospitals, clinics, and most clinical trials—however, it doesn’t even appear on an electrolyte panel. See Chapter 16 for more on magnesium testing.
- Magnesium deficiency is a major factor in chronic disease—diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and heartburn. The drugs used to treat all these conditions deplete magnesium, often making symptoms worse. I list many of these unsafe drugs in Chapter 2.
- Telomeres, which are components of chromosomes, hold the key to aging, as does magnesium, which prevents telomeres from deteriorating. I cover the latest research in Chapter 15.
I’ve been saying for many years that you have to take charge of your own health—and one way of doing that is to study all the information I provide about magnesium, find out if you are suffering from magnesium deficiency, and learn what you can do to correct the problem.
How Much Magnesium Should I Take?
If you do want to do some testing, to prove to your doctor or your family that you are indeed magnesium deficient, I recommend the magnesium RBC blood test. You may repeat it every three to six months, aiming for the optimum value of 6.0–6.5 mg/dL. See Chapter 16 of The Magnesium Miracle, 2017 edition for more on magnesium testing and how to order your own test without a doctor’s prescription.
It may take a year or more to build up your magnesium stores in your muscles and bones. However, it usually takes only a few days or a few weeks to notice health improvements, which lets you know you are on the right path. You aren’t just looking for symptom relief; it’s important to have extra magnesium in reserve for those stressful times that nobody can predict.
Having said that, I must register an official disclaimer that I can’t be responsible in cases where people don’t follow these important recommendations:
- Begin taking magnesium slowly, especially if you have a high toxin load, have a chronic disease, or are on many medications.
- Don’t take copious amounts of magnesium without doing proper testing.
- Be cautious about taking magnesium if you have any of the four contraindications described at the end of this post.
- Along with magnesium, take a multiple-mineral supplement and follow my guidelines for adding sea salt to your drinking water. All of these are necessary to maintain mineral balance.
- Obtain sufficient calcium (600 mg per day) in your daily diet or use a highly absorbable form of calcium as a supplement.
The Fail-safe Of Magnesium
Our bodies have a fail-safe mechanism that prevents us from absorbing too much magnesium. If we consume too much magnesium in our diets or from supplements, the body rids itself of the excess by flushing it out through the bowels with diarrhea. This built-in fail-safe makes magnesium, in my opinion, one of the safest nutrients you can take.
This fail-safe was created during our evolution in a culture living near the ocean where most of humanity survived on produce from the sea. Sea water has three times more magnesium than calcium. So, the primitive diet was high in magnesium-rich foods (seaweed, fish, and shellfish), and low in calcium. Thus, it became important to eliminate too much magnesium via the bowels but grab on to as much calcium as possible via vitamin D.
In current times, we are eating high-calcium foods and calcium-fortified foods, and we’re taking far more calcium supplementation than magnesium. We also take high doses of vitamin D, which holds on to calcium, to our detriment.
What Kind of Magnesium Works Best?
There are so many types of magnesium, what’s the best type and how much should I use?
There are many different types of magnesium, including magnesium oxide and magnesium compounds like glycinate, malate, and citrate powder, but none are as fully absorbed by cells as a picometer magnesium formula. In fact, picometer magnesium is so well absorbed into the cells that there isn’t any left over to make its way into the intestines.
Picometer magnesium ions are stabilized allowing full cellular absorption and assimilation, thus no laxative effect.
Also, it’s important for kidney patients to receive picometer, stabilized ionic magnesium that is absorbed directly into cells and therefore does not build up in the blood to cause electrolyte imbalance and rhythm disturbances.
So, when you’re looking for a magnesium formula, the different types above will all give you some of the magnesium effect, but picometer magnesium will give you the highest level of saturation.
You can learn about a picometer magnesium that I developed called: ReMag (disclosure: this is my product).
Dr. Carolyn Dean
Contraindications to Magnesium Consumption
- Kidney failure. With kidney failure, there is an inability to clear magnesium from the kidneys.
- Myasthenia gravis. Intravenous administration could accentuate muscle relaxation and collapse the respiratory muscles.
- Excessively slow heart rate. Slow heart rates can be made even slower with magnesium, as magnesium relaxes the heart. Very slow heart rates often require an artificial pacemaker.
- Bowel obstruction. The main route of elimination of oral magnesium is through the bowel.