Benefits of Magnesium

Benefits of Magnesium

Benefits of Magnesium:


Bone tissue contains approximately 60% of the magnesium found in the body. One of the properties of magnesium within the skeletal structure is to help regulate calcium within the bones and teeth. For example, magnesium is needed in order for calcium to be bound to tooth enamel. In addition to an influence on the hormonal processes involved in bone calcium metabolism, magnesium may increase the activity of vitamin D (which, among other things, aids calcium absorption). Although calcium is the most abundant skeletal mineral and the best-known nutrient for maintaining bone density, in recent years the focus on the role of magnesium in bone health has increased considerably. In fact, many experts now feel that magnesium intake is at least as critical to skeletal health as calcium. Research indicates that osteoporotic women have less bone magnesium and that magnesium intake is a significant statistical predictor of bone mineral content.


The influence of magnesium on calcium metabolism and regulation may also be useful in preventing abnormal calcium deposition in soft tissues such as the kidneys. For example, in a study of 55 patients with recurrent kidney stones, less than 15% of those taking magnesium formed new stones over a 2-4 year treatment period (compared to 59% in the control group). In the treatment group, there was also a 90% reduction in the average rate of stone development compared with the period prior to treatment. From the standpoint of public health, reducing calcium deposition in the arteries would be especially significant, as arterial calcification can be a major factor in the development of atherosclerosis (and thus, heart disease) [see cardiovascular health and function below].


Like calcium, magnesium is essential for the proper function of muscles. In particular, magnesium is needed for the relaxation phase of muscle function, while the mineral calcium facilitates the contraction phase. Magnesium's action as a muscle relaxant to a great extent relates to its ability to block smooth muscle uptake of calcium. Magnesium also affects muscular function through its influence on neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the nervous system. The properties of this mineral not only maintain normal function, but can also be preventive and/or therapeutic in the case of muscle dysfunction. For example, in a study on pregnant women suffering with muscle cramps, 90% were symptom-free after one month of magnesium supplementation (as opposed to 33% of the control group). Especially important is the influence of magnesium on the smooth muscle tissue of the vascular system, which has many clinically proven benefits in cardiovascular health (see cardiovascular health and function below).


Magnesium is an essential coenzyme within many enzyme systems, and is involved in hundreds of catalytic reactions within the body. It is particularly critical to energy production, and not surprisingly, magnesium deficiency is a common feature in general fatigue and fatigue-related disorders such as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome). Magnesium supplementation is clinically proven to significantly improve fatigue symptoms in ME sufferers; the fact that this research administered the mineral as an intramuscular injection does not rule out a potential value to oral supplementation in fatigue-related disorders. Magnesium is also critical to the metabolism of carbohydrates, and is needed for the both the synthesis and secretion of the hormone insulin (which facilitates the cellular metabolism of glucose in the blood). More often than not, diabetics are deficient in magnesium. There is strong justification to magnesium supplementation in diabetes, not only because it may improve glucose tolerance, but also because it may reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease and retinopathy. As a coenzyme, magnesium is also needed for DNA replication within cells.


Several studies highlight the importance of magnesium in the prevention and/or treatment of numerous heart and vascular disorders. Magnesium deficiency is a common feature of conditions such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, mitral valve prolapse and peripheral vascular disease. For example, a 1990 study compared survival rates of patients with congestive heart failure patients based on their magnesium status. The one-year survival rates in those with low magnesium levels were 37% lower than those with

normal magnesium status. After two years, survival rates were 32% lower in the low magnesium group. Evidence suggests that supplementation can also be preventive and/or therapeutic; examples of conditions where this is the case include high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, angina, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, mitral valve prolapse, peripheral vascular disease and heart attack. Many of the benefits of magnesium in cardiovascular disease relate to its role in vascular smooth muscle function. Magnesium facilitates the relaxation phase of vascular muscle function, at least in part by blocking the smooth muscle uptake of calcium (calcium facilitates the contraction of smooth muscle). This action bears a strong resemblance to the anti-hypertensive calcium channel-blocking drugs, which helps explain one of the more significant ways by which magnesium can help lower blood pressure. Magnesium also helps (along with calcium and potassium) to reduce sodium build-up within cells that could otherwise elevate blood pressure. The accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque is a primary trigger for heart disease, due to the associated reduction of blood flow through the arteries. Through relaxation of the arterial smooth muscle, magnesium facilitates dilation of the arteries, allowing a greater blood flow and reduced pressure on the artery walls. The ability of magnesium to reduce excessive blood clotting, calcification of the blood vessels and cholesterol levels should also discourage the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque. Through its enzymatic influence (see energy metabolism and enzyme function below) magnesium increases the production of energy within the heart muscle, thus contributing to the strength of the heart and its ability to pump blood throughout the body.


Research confirms that magnesium deficiency can severely impair hormone balance in women, and is undoubtedly a causal factor in many cases of premenstrual tension (PMT). The issue of magnesium status in PMT has been the source of controversy; studies suggest that there is no clear association between low blood plasma levels of magnesium and incidence of PMT, however sufferers of PMT have significantly lower levels of magnesium in red and mononuclear blood cells. Unfortunately, most clinicians who test for nutritional deficiencies in their PMT patients are more likely to carry out plasma testing, and thus may be misled into assuming that magnesium supplementation is not relevant to such patients. The truth is that magnesium supplementation is dramatically effective in relieving numerous symptoms of PMT. For example, a 1984 study demonstrated that supplementation reduced PMT-related breast irritation in 96% of the women, weight gain in 95% and nervous tension in 89%. Other research highlights a reduction in premenstrual mood swings. Although there are several biochemical influences of magnesium that may account for such benefits, its effect on adrenal hormones is particularly significant. For instance, a high level of magnesium is associated with a lower level of aldosterone, an adrenal hormone which causes sodium and fluid retention and is linked to premenstrual weight gain and breast pain. Magnesium may also help regulate the activity of stress hormones that otherwise can deplete mood-elevating neurotransmitters in the brain.


Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to ensure proper nerve impulse transmission, in part through an influence on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers of the nervous system). A lack of dietary magnesium is associated with latent tetany, a condition manifesting in muscle spasms, twitches or tremors due to hypersensitive nerves. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with lactic acid build-up, leading to an imbalance in the ratio between lactic acid and pyruvic acid. A high lactate to pyruvate ratio is linked to anxiety-related disorder.


Magnesium is required for adrenal health and synthesis of adrenal stress hormones. In this manner, it works along with nutrients such as pantothenic acid, vitamin C, B6 and zinc. Also, magnesium's above- mentioned effects on nerve and muscular function beneficially influence disorders and symptoms often associated with stress response (i.e. anxiety, nervous tension, muscle spasms/ twitches, hypertension, etc.).


Magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve certain pain-related disorders such as migraine and tension headaches and fibromyalgia (which manifests with symptoms such as joint and muscle aches and pains). In the case of migraines, most of the benefit from magnesium appears to be linked to its role in vascular muscle function, nerve-relaxation and proper mitral valve function. The heart's mitral valve prevents backflow or leakage of oxygenated blood within the heart, and a prolapse of this valve leads to abnormalities in the pumping of blood as well as causing the release of compounds that precipatate and expansion of the cranial blood vessels. Migraines may be triggered by this vascular expansion; in fact, research suggests that there is twice the rate of mitral valve prolapse in migraine sufferers compared to non-sufferers. Chronic magnesium deficiency exists in 85% of those with mitral valve prolapse, and not surprisingly, migraine sufferers typically have lower blood magnesium levels than non-sufferers.