Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increasing weight around your stomach even though you are eating right and exercising? Do you suffer neuropathy without having diabetes or other known causes? You may have Syndrome X from being low in the important mineral, magnesium.

People suffering high blood pressure, high cholesterol and weight gain around their middle are in a state of pre-diabetic insulin resistance.  This condition is called Syndrome X  or also called Metabolic Syndrome. People with Syndrome X are at risk of getting neuropathy nerve damage even before they are officially diagnosed with diabetes.

While everybody has learned that calcium is important most people don’t know that magnesium is every bit as important. Here is why: according to magnesium expert Mildred Seelig, MD, MPH, MACN, “Low magnesium levels have been implicated as an important factor in most of the disorders of Metabolic Syndrome X.”

What Happens to Your Body With Syndrome X

The insulin resistance of Syndrome X occurs when the body does not respond properly to insulin.

When you have a poor diet long enough your body is forced to make higher and higher levels of insulin. This is because all the carbohydrates you have been eating require more insulin to push those sugars into your cells and out of your blood where they will do you harm.

Insulin is a hormone that pushes the blood sugar called glucose into cells where it is used for energy. When the cells resist taking in glucose, the glucose builds up in the blood stream.

To lower your blood sugar your pancreas makes higher and higher levels of insulin trying hard to push the glucose into the cells. But these high levels of insulin in your blood also make you store more fat. And, it interferes with the normal function of all other hormones in your body. Weight gain, hair loss, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes all start. This is how Syndrome X leads into neuropathy symptoms and why you can have so many problems going on at once.

As I have written about in previous newsletters, high levels of blood sugar sticks to other proteins in your body. This causes stiff joints, degenerated discs and stiff ligaments and tendons. It can also cause eye and kidney problems and can even increase the risk of heart attack and strokes.

How Does Magnesium Help?

Some research has shown that low magnesium levels can lead to insulin resistance.

Reference: Song Y, Ridker PM, Manson JE, Cook NR, Buring JE, Liu S. Magnesium intake, C-reactive protein, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older U.S. women. Diabetes Care. 2005;28(6):1438-1444.

Dr. Larry Resnick of Cornell University, involved in heart and magnesium research for over twenty years stated: insulin opens the cells to glucose only if the cells have sufficient amounts of magnesium, and without magnesium, insulin resistance occurs.

Magnesium helps with glucose uptake by the body’s cells, promotes healthy heart function, and blunts the damage caused by free radicals.

Magnesium has been shown to lower high blood pressure. In one study of people with high blood pressure, patients who took magnesium supplements for 4 weeks showed a significant reduction in blood pressure. Those who took a placebo did not reduce their blood pressure.

 What causes low magnesium?

The magnesium deficiency in syndrome X comes from a combination of our magnesium-deficient diet and the well documented loss of magnesium in the urine caused by elevated insulin.

A vicious cycle creates further magnesium losses, causing more syndrome X symptoms.

In a fifteen-year study of 5,000 young adults, it was found that the more magnesium in the diet or taken as supplements, the lower the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome.

Health Problems Due to Low Magnesium

It has been reported that approximately 60% of adults in the United States do not consume the RDA for magnesium.

The low intake of magnesium from a large proportion of the U.S. population may be related to the increased rate of chronic disease.

Nonetheless, increased diseases attributed to magnesium deficiency have not yet been reported. Perhaps, because they have not been explored in the medical community.  And/or, because they may be related to a magnesium insufficiency and not an overt magnesium deficiency.

It has been reported, however, that low magnesium status has been associated with chronic inflammatory stress conditions. Chronic inflammatory conditions include obesity, arthritis and diabetes.

Chronic inflammation can occur with marginal to moderately low magnesium intakes at between 50% and 90% of the RDA.

This inflammatory response could play a role in obesity in humans. Because, obesity has been characterized as having a chronic low-grade inflammation component and an increased incidence of a low magnesium status.

It is this marginal to moderate magnesium deficiency  aggravating chronic inflammation. Which may be contributing significantly to the occurrence of atherosclerosis, hypertension, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and certain types of cancer!

Furthermore, certain medications prescribed for such diseases, such as loop and thiazide diuretics (often prescribed for hypertension and/or congestive heart failure), can further worsen magnesium loss, typically through the urine.

To learn way more about all the ways low magnesium can affect your health here is a good article from the journal “Advances in Nutrition”.

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

The Dietary Reference Intakes for magnesium has been established as the RDA.

  • 80 mg/day for children 1–3 y of age
  • 130 mg/day for children 4–8 y of age.
  • For males, 240 mg/day (range, 9–13 y of age
  • Teen boys 14-18 years old 410 mg/day
  • 400 to 420 mg/day for men
  • For females, 240 mg/day (9–13 y of age)
  • 360 mg/day for teen girls 14–18 y of age.
  • 400 mg/day for pregnant teen girls
  • 310- 320 mg/day for women
  • 350-360 mg/day for pregnant women

How do I Get More Magnesium?

There are some foods that will give you some magnesium. But, most people never eat enough of these foods every day to make sure they get at least the 310 to 420 mg of magnesium.  So, a good, high quality magnesium supplement helps.

Foods high in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, spinach and swiss chard, peas, black eyed peas, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, wild caught salmon, wild caught mackerel, almonds, whole grains.

However the magnesium in our food has lessened over time due to magnesium poor soils. So for this reason as well, most people would benefit from supplements.

Especially if you take calcium by itself without magnesium in the supplement or if you take a diuretic medication, you should add a magnesium supplement.

The “last name” of the magnesium you are considering makes a difference.

Remember magnesium citrate can loosen bowels.

Magnesium Oxide while costing less, is the least absorbable so you have to take more.

Magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, magnesium orotate, magnesium lactate and magnesium taurate are better choices.

If you do get loose bowels from any of the magnesium supplements, your body is shedding excess magnesium so cut back on the dosage.

We carry several forms of high quality, pharmaceutical grade magnesium here at the office: liquid, capsule and with different “last names” for various conditions for our patients.

If you are trying to determine what supplementation would be best for you, we do offer nutritional consults. Simply call our office at 978-535-6155 and tell the receptionist that you would like to schedule for a nutrition consult.