The Benefits of Magnesium
By: Dr. George Obikoya
Magnesium is water-insoluble and is stored throughout the body. Magnesium is required for the formation of enzymes that release energy from food. It is essential for life, as it plays a major role in the metabolism of glucose. It is also used in the production of cellular energy and to create protein.
An average day's diet contains around 300 milligrams of magnesium, of which two-thirds is absorbed. Half of the absorbed magnesium is excreted by the kidneys, which can regulate the amount within a range of one to 150 millimoles per day. This control is subject to the influences of the parathyroid hormone, parathormone, and the thyroid hormone calcitotonin.
Magnesium is important to neuromuscular transmission. It is also an important cofactor in the enzymic processes that form the matrix of bone and in the synthesis of nucleic acid. Magnesium has an inverse relationship with calcium. Thus, if food is deficient in magnesium, more of the calcium in the food is absorbed. If the blood level of magnesium is low, calcium is mobilized from bone. The treatment of low calcium levels due to malabsorption includes administration of magnesium supplements, preferably in the form of a liquid multivitamin.
Magnesium is vital for the nervous system, muscle contraction, and for the formation of healthy bones and teeth, it also helps to protect against cardiovascular disease and lowers high blood pressure. Because magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions, a deficiency can adversely affect the immune system. The ability of immune cells to adhere to other substances requires magnesium. Some studies have suggested that magnesium may be useful in preventing type II diabetes and its complications, minimizing the severity of asthma attacks, and alleviating the symptoms of PMS.
Magnesium supplementation is important for people taking diuretics and digitalis. Heavy drinkers and those concerned about osteoporosis may also benefit from taking supplements of magnesiuml. Supplementing the diet with magnesium helps prevent dizziness, depression, muscle weakness, twitching, heart disease, high blood pressure, and also aids in maintaining the proper fluid and electrolyte balance. Every cell in the body needs magnesium. It helps keep muscles strong and nerves alert. Best of all, a new study in the journal Circulation suggests that daily magnesium supplements can even help an ailing heart.
Magnesium supplements enable heart disease patients to exercise for longer periods of time and appeared to protect their hearts from the stress of exercise. Magnesium also restored some of the blood vessels' ability to open up when the body needs more blood.
So what is it about magnesium that makes it such a friend to the body? It could be that magnesium helps the body's cells fend off stress. Magnesium-deficient cells also are more vulnerable to injury, and patients with heart disease may have greater need for magnesium.
Magnesium helps convert blood sugar into usable energy. Women who take birth control pills and anyone who drinks alcohol should increase their magnesium. Since magnesium neutralizes stomach acids, it should not be taken directly after a meal.
Magnesium deficiency can result from the overuse of diuretics and from chronic renal failure, chronic alcoholism, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and severe intestinal malabsorption.
Magnesium deficiency causes apathy, depression, apprehensiveness, confusion, disorientation, vertigo (at condition in which the room seems to spin), muscular weakness and twitching, over-excitability of the nervous system which may lead to muscle spasms or cramps, insomnia, jumpiness, sensitivity to noise, irritability, poor memory, tremors or convulsions.
The RDA of magnesium is 400 mg a day for men aged 19 to 30, 420mg
a day for men aged 31 to 70. For women, the RDA is 310mg a day for
those aged 19 to 30, and 320mg for those aged 31 to 70. The European
RDA is 300mg.
You can also get Magnesium if you follow the dietary recommendations to eat five to seven helpings of fruits or vegetables and two or three of nonfat dairy products every day. The most important food sources of magnesium are green vegetables like spinach, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains.
Supplementary magnesium is usually only necessary on medical advice. The maximum safe level is 400mg. People with kidney disease or heart disease should consult their doctor before taking supplementary magnesium.
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