Do you suffer chronic pain, chronic muscle cramps, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol? Do you know that we supplement our neuropathy and chronic pain patients with magnesium for some very important reasons? Let’s talk about how magnesium affects both your general wellness and wellbeing. And, how it also helps with pain and many other problems.

From Carolyn Dean, MD, ND from her book, “Magnesium Miracle”:

Everything your body does, including repair of injuries and maintenance of good health depends on a series of chemical reactions we call metabolism. And, ALL OF THEM, depend on vitamins and minerals, which act as necessary co-factors.

Some of what Magnesium does for you
  • Magnesium (Mg) is a co-factor and responsible for the function of 325 enzymes. Your body uses enzymes to do many jobs like digestion and building muscles and repairing injuries.
  • Mg is an absolute requirement for calcium to be used in building bone
  • keeps toxic chemicals out of the brain
  • works with calcium to create nerve impulses
  • keeps muscles working correctly, including the muscles in your heart and blood vessels

From Mildred Seelig, MD: HMG-CoA reductase is a key enzyme that converts sugar into cholesterol. Magnesium blocks this enzyme. So, higher levels of magnesium reduce cholesterol levels.

There is also an enzyme that converts LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol which is what you want in order to be healthy. Mg is a necessary cofactor of this enzyme.  A bad cholesterol measurement is often a reflection of low Mg rather than that you ate cholesterol rich foods. Mg prevents atherosclerosis.

You can read more of Dr. Seelig’s research findings here:

What happens if your magnesium is too low?
  • fatigue
  • muscle spasms and cramps
  • irregular heart beat
  • Dizziness: Low Mg levels can give you similar feelings as vertigo, making you feel not only dizzy, but completely off balance.
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness and tingling: Since Mg impacts your nervous system, tingling and numbness can be a warning sign of a deficiency, particularly as it worsens. It’s common to feel these symptoms in your face, feet and hands.
  • personality changes, anxiety and panic attacks: Mg normally keeps adrenal stress hormones under control. Mg is  also needed to make serotonin, a calming brain chemical.
Other bad things that can happen due to Magnesium Deficiency
  • Migraine:  Serotonin balance is Mg-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.
  • Musculoskeletal conditions: Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by Mg deficiency and can be relieved with Mg supplements.
  • Nerve problemsMg alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the whole body, such as migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps.
  • High blood pressure: the most common causes of high blood pressure are Mg deficiency and calcium excess. Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker.
  • Calcium, if not balanced with Mg, ends up depositing in kidneys, arteries and cartilage, not bones.
  • Inflammation: Calcium overload is one of the main causes of inflammation. Mg is a key anti-inflammatory because you can neutralize calcium with Mg, dramatically reducing your levels of inflammation.
  • Hypoglycemia: Mg keeps insulin under control. Without Mg episodes of low blood sugar can result.
  • Type II Diabetes: Mg enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without Mg insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood causing various types of tissue damage.
  • Heart disease: Mg deficiency is common in people with heart disease. Mg is administered in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart muscle requires Mg. Mg can also help angina, or chest pain.
  • Hypertension: With insufficient Mg, spasm of blood vessels and high cholesterol occur, both of which lead to blood pressure problems.
  • Insomnia: Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient Mg.
Even more surprising effects of low magnesium
  • Blood clots: Mg has an important role to play in preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin-much like aspirin but without the side effects.
  • Bowel disease: Mg deficiency slows down the bowel. This causes constipation, which could lead to toxicity and malabsorption of nutrients, as well as colitis.
  • Cystitis:  Mg deficiency worsens bladder spasms.
  • Depression: Serotonin, which elevates moods, is dependent on Mg. A Mg-deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.
  • Poor Detoxification: Mg is crucial for the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals such as aluminum and lead.
  •  Premenstrual Syndrome: adequate Mg prevents PMS, menstrual cramps.
  • Obstetrics:  Mg is also important in the treatment of infertility; and alleviates premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy. Obstetrical wards give intravenous Mg  for pregnancy-induced hypertension and to lessen the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Mg should be a required supplement for pregnant mothers.
  • Osteoporosis:  Taking calcium with Vitamin D to increase calcium absorption without a balancing amount of Mg causes further Mg deficiency  This triggers a cascade of events leading to bone loss.
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome: Mg helps relax the spastic blood vessels that cause pain and numbness of the fingers.

Material excerpted from Dean, Carolyn. The Miracle of Magnesium (2003 Ballantine Books: New York, NY), 2003. pp. 5-7. You can read more on this subject and learn even more conditions that magnesium supplementation might help here:

So, how much magnesium do you need?

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Mg is between 350 and 400 milligrams per day. However, this amount is just enough to keep you from being outright sick. For optimal health, take twice as much Mg . One of the highest sources of Mg is kelp, but one tsp. only has about 30 milligrams. One tablespoon of almonds has 33 milligrams.  Mg is not so easy to get into your body unless you eat a lot of these foods. And most people don’t. Because we usually don’t get nearly enough Mg from our diet, we should take Mg supplements.

Optimum calcium to Mg ratio is 1/1. Current US average is 10/1. That means that most everyone knows about getting enough calcium in their diet, so they eat calcium rich foods and take calcium supplements. But we are not balancing the calcium as needed with magnesium.

Magnesium is high in: Avocados, green leafy vegetables, cashews, tuna fish, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate. But you probably won’t get enough just by eating these foods.

Why would my magnesium be low?

Whole grains, greens, nuts and seeds contain Mg but most people don’t eat much, if any, of these foods.

Also cooking and processing foods depletes Mg!

Or, do you take a fluid pill? Doctors know potassium deficiency is a danger for people on diuretics but they don’t acknowledge that magnesium is also flushed out in equal measure. Mg deficiency goes undiagnosed and unrecognized because until recently there was no accurate blood test for Mg. Patients are warned to take potassium supplements or eat oranges and bananas, but no advice is given about Mg.

Mg is not as readily available as potassium in food because it’s deficient in the soil and most fertilizers don’t contain Mg, so most foods are lacking.

The only contraindications to magnesium supplements are in people with outright kidney failure, bowel obstruction, Myasthenia gravis, or heart block.

Also, if you have a heart condition you may find that taking Mg can lessen the need for heart medication. So you should be under doctor’s supervision if you take Mg supplements along with heart medication.

Can I take too much magnesium?

Yes, but your body has a way of getting rid of excess Mg by either vomiting or more commonly, diarrhea. Certain types of Mg (supplements with different “last names”) are more likely to cause diarrhea than others.

What kinds of magnesium supplements are best?

Colonoscopy preps may use Magnesium Citrate  so that one will cause loose bowels at a lower dose.

If you have a lot of muscle pains, or fibromyalgia, then Magnesium Malate is a good one to take.

Magnesium lactate is fine as is magnesium glycinate.

We have the various Mg supplements (except citrate) at the office. We only order from trusted high quality companies. If you need a special magnesium or mix, we can order it for you from one of our suppliers.

If you want to know if a magnesium supplement might help you or if one might be all right to take with your medication or condition, simply call us at 978-535-6155 to schedule a nutrition consult visit.