Magnesium – The Miracle Mineral
Magnesium is critical for health, a necessary co-actor for over 300 biochemical reactions and the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. This includes everyday processes such as muscle building, maintaining optimal nerve function, keeping a healthy blood pressure, heart beat and rhythm, as well as sustaining optimal immune system function. Because countless scientific studies have examined the role of magnesium in alleviating or circumventing many commonly occurring acute and chronic ailments, it is critical for you as a practitioner to be educated on not only the wide range of clinical applications for this amazing mineral, but in addition in the variations of magnesium supplements and their unique respective uses. Have you read my article called Magnesium yet? It will give you a good understanding of the basics.
Some patients are truly surprised to learn that my clinic in New Zealand stocks six different kinds of magnesium supplements of the highest quality, and once they learn about their different applications they will be able to use them much more effectively when it comes to their health, allowing them to fine tune their nutritional prescriptions to a greater degree and consequently improving theirs outcomes. This article was written primarily as a newsletter for my patients, but I think many folks out there will benefit from the contents.
Magnesium is absorbed primarily in the distal small intestine (ileum), but also in the colon. Healthy people absorb approximately 30% to 40% of ingested magnesium. Just like Vitamin C, when serum Mg levels are high, the kidneys will rapidly excrete the surplus. The efficiency of absorption varies inversely with quantity of magnesium consumed. Interestingly, at the age of 70, magnesium absorption is approximately 66% of that at age 30.
Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to a transporting substance. For this reason, many supplement manufacturers have “chelated” magnesium to organic minerals and amino acids. Personally, I prefer to recommend the forms of magnesium below for their superior uptake, bio-availability and therapeutic activity to others forms more commonly found in retail products such as magnesium carbonate, sulphate or oxide.
The quality of a magnesium supplement depends to a high degree on the manufacturing processes, the amount of magnesium in the supplement and more especially how bio-available it actually is. Bio-availability refers to the amount of magnesium in the supplement that can be efficiently assimilated by the digestive system, absorbed by cells and utilised for cellular activity health benefits.
General Applications for Magnesium
Magnesium is a dietary supplement that you will may well be already taking on a regular basis along with your supplementation, you may be using it alone, in combination with a calcium supplement or a multivitamin and either in a powdered form, a capsule or a tablet. There are literally countless uses for magnesium, but here are the more generalised uses. Although all my magnesium products can be used for these general indications, you will notice later in this article that there are some more specific applications for the 6 different forms of magnesium that I currently recommend.
- Asthma: anxiety, nervousness, muscular excitability, broncho spasm.
- Cardiovascular: plays an important role in regulating the neuromuscular activity of the heart; maintains normal heart rhythm; reduces ischemia re-perfusion injury; heart spasms, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, reduces risk of MI, stroke & stroke related mortality; mitral valve prolapse (85% are Mg deficient); ventricular fibrillation, hypertension, hyperlipidemia. Mg may lower total serum cholesterol levels, ischemic heart disease, Raynaud’s disease,
- Chemical & heavy-metal toxicity: Mg is the most commonly depleted nutrient in toxic individuals. This product may be of benefit in reducing aluminum toxicity.
- Diabetes & Insulin resistance: converts blood sugar into energy. Diabetic retinopathy prevention, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces risk of developing microangiopathy.
- Digestive system: Constipation (Mg citrate), gallstone prevention, heartburn, ulcerative colitis.
- Fibromyalgia: supplementation of magnesium combined with malic acid in particular has reduced the severity of pain & tenderness associated with fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica.
- Headaches/Migraine: migraine & headache sufferers have shown to have very low free magnesium levels.
- Immune: Magnesium may help prevent many cancers, deficiencies of Mg. increase the risk of developing cancer.
- Kidney stones: reduces oxalate levels in urine, prevents stone formation.
- Metabolism: CFS, stamina, fatigue, energy production
- Musculoskeletal: Osteoporosis, necessary for proper calcium & Vitamin C metabolism. Mg deficiency may result in calcium depletion. Fracture prevention, Mg concentrates primarily in bone tissue (64% of body’s stores). Muscle cramps, weakness, tension, ticks and atrophy all respond to Mg therapy.
- Oral health: Bruxism (grinding teeth), may harden teeth & prevent decay, periodontal disease.
- Pregnancy: reduces risk of pre-term labor, maternal hospitalization, increases birth-weight, reduces risk of pre-eclampsia in women with pregnancy induced hypertension.
- Premenstrual syndrome: Zinc, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are commonly the most deficient nutrients in those with PMS.
6 Different Forms Of Magnesium And Specific Indications
Please note: the more important indications are in italics
1 – Magnesium Taurate
Magnesium taurate is a combination of the amino acid taurine and magnesium, and absorption is excellent. This form of Mg has particularly good properties for the heart and brain, and has a calming effect on the CNS in particular. Taken together in this combination, magnesium and taurine have a synergistic effect, stabilising cell membranes, making this form of magnesium highly absorbed. Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and is present in particularly high levels in the brain, skeletal muscles, heart as well as the retina of the eye. Taurine is especially important in heart health, may prevent arrhythmias and protect against the damage caused by heart attacks. Taurine confers heightened control of neurotransmitters, can prevent the death of brain cells, helps prevent brain dysfunction and even brain damage and can provide relief for hyperactivity, depression and anxiety. This form does not have a laxative effect, unlike some other forms.
Key Indications for Magnesium taurate:
- Neurological: anxiety, apathy, epilepsy, hyperactivity, insomnia (or low quality of sleep), irritability, learning, memory, migraine, mood, Parkinson’s disease, stroke.
- Visual: diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, macular degeneration
- Cardiovascular: arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke, prevention of abnormal blood clotting/thrombosis, high LDL.
2 – Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium glycinate is manufactured by bonding magnesium mineral ions with glycine, absorption is excellent. Glycine, an amino acid, allows for superior absorption inside the digestive tract because of the active transport systems employed by intestinal cells to absorb amino acids. Whereas minerals typically passively diffuse across the gut wall, and this active transport system increases absorption of amino acids and any substances they are bound with. Magnesium glycinate is another form of Mg with which you are less likely to experience diarrhea. Glycinates, together with aspartates, citrates and taurates, stand out as the most bio-available of all magnesium supplements. Although your patients may find the oxide and carbonate forms of magnesium commonly available in health stores, the body struggles to absorb these forms of the mineral. Here are some of the key indications for Magnesium glycinate, over other forms of magnesium:
Key Indications for Magnesium glycinate:
- Digestion: inflammatory bowel disease, hypochlorhydria
- Metabolism: energy production, fatigue, hypoglycaemia
- Musculoskeletal: helps improve muscle tone & strength, promotes healing, gout, R. arthritis
- Neurological: anxiety/panic disorders, epilepsy, sleeping disorders, schizophrenia
3 – Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is a magnesium preparation in salt form with citric acid. This form of magnesium has more laxative properties when given in higher dosages than the other forms mentioned, and has been used medicinally as a saline laxative and to completely empty the bowel prior to a major surgery or colonoscopy. Magnesium citrate was once regarded as the “ultimate” form of Mg, until other forms were created which disassociated less in the bowel. Some companies still tout citrate or citrate-malate forms as the “superior” forms of magnesium, but this is primarily based on older research than we have available today. Once in the intestine (in sufficient doses), the citrate form can attract enough water to induce defecation, and the additional water stimulates bowel motility. This means that mag. citrate can also be used to effectively treat rectal and colon problems. Magnesium citrate has excellent absorption, being superior than oxide and carbonate forms, but inferior to cellular uptake of the more modern forms such as glycinate, aspartate and certainly magnesium taurate.
Key Indications for Magnesium Citrate:
- Digestion: constipation
- Metabolism: energy production, fatigue
- Musculoskeletal: nocturnal leg cramps, (give magnesium potassium aspartate for restless leg syndrome)
- Neurological: migraine, headaches
- Urinary: urinary tract infections, diuretic, kidney stone prevention
4 – Magnesium Potassium Aspartate
Magnesium aspartate is manufactured by bonding magnesium mineral ions with the amino acid aspartic acid, absorption is excellent. My clinic stocks Magnesium aspartate, as well as Magnesium Potassium Aspartate. Aspartic acid is a natural amino acid that occurs widely as a constituent of food proteins. In the body, aspartic acid is primarily involved in energy production and as an intermediate in the Krebs cycle. I would tend to recommend the Magnesium potassium aspartate more for the musculoskeletal applications, and the Magnesium aspartate for the immune and neurological applications.
Key Indications for Magnesium Aspartate:
- Immune function: stimulates proliferation and differentiation of bone marrow and spleen, enhances function of thymus gland.
- Neurological: major depression, many with major depression have low levels of aspartic acid. Aspartic acid stimulates the N-methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors of the brain (i.e. it functions as a stimulatory neurotransmitter)
Key Indications for Magnesium Potassium Aspartate:
- Musculoskeletal: restless leg syndrome, Magnesium Potassium Aspartate may increase the capacity for prolonged exercise by up to 50%. Athletic performance, stamina. May strengthen bones and teeth.
6 – Magnesium Creatine-Magnapower
I introduced this most unique form of magnesium in Australia and New Zealand earlier in 2013. Magnesium creatine-magnapower is the ultimate form of magnesium chelate for muscle function; it is a magnesium creatine chelate, that provides both creatine and magnesium for ATP synthesis. Please view this You Tube video for much more information on this amazing form of magnesium: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNdUQ045DGk
Key Indications for Magnesium Creatine Magnapower:
- Neurological: improves numerous aspects of brain function, reduces brain fatigue.
- Musculoskeletal: quick twitch muscle energy, which is needed for power movements in weight training, sprinting, hockey, football, baseball, golf etc.). Higher muscle energy, strength and muscle mass. Greatly facilitates vital oxygen delivery to working muscle tissue. Helps build muscle mass regardless of age.
- Bernstein, L. Improving magnesium absorption and bioavailability. Geriatric Times. 3(1), 2002.
- Dean, C. The Miracle of Magnesium. The Ballantyne Publishing Group. USA. 2003:200
- National Institutes of Health , Office of Dietary Supplements (2005) Magnesium. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium.asp
- Ford E.S. and Mokdad A.H. (2003) Dietary magnesium intake in a national sample of U.S. adults. J Nutr. 133:2879-82.
- King D.E. et al. (2005) Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 24(3):166-71.
- Sebastian R.S. et al. (2007) Older adults who use vitamin/mineral supplements differ from nonusers in nutrient intake adequacy and dietary attitudes. J Am Diet Assoc. 107(8):1322-32.
- Schuette S.A. et al. (1994) Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 18(5):430-5.
- Davis W.H. et al. (1984) Monotherapy with magnesium increases abnormally low high density lipoprotein cholesterol: a clinical assay. Curr Therap Res 36:341-344.
- Rasmussen H.S. et al. (1989) Influence of magnesium substitution therapy on blood lipid composition in patients with ischemic heart disease. A double-blind, placebo controlled study. Arch Int Med 149:1050-1053.
- Corica F. et al (1994) : Effects of oral magnesium supplementation on plasma lipid concentrations in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Magnes Res 7:43-46.
- Itoh K., Kawasaka T., Nakamura M. (1997) The effects of high oral magnesium supplementation on blood pressure, serum lipids and related variables in apparently healthy Japanese subjects. Br J Nutr 78:737-750.
- Song Y., et al. (2006) Effects of oral magnesium supplementation on glycaemic control in Type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized double-blind controlled trials. Diabet Med. 23(10):1050-6.
- Wells I.C. (2008) Evidence that the etiology of the syndrome containing type 2 diabetes mellitus results from abnormal magnesium metabolism. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 86(1-2):16-24.
- Song, Y. et al. (2006) Dietary magnesium intake and risk of incident hypertension among middle-aged and older US women in a 10-year follow-up study. Am J Cardiol. 98(12):1616-21.
- Ascherio A. et al. (1992). A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation 86:1475-84.
- University of Maryland Medical Center http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/magnesium-000313.htm
- Kass-Annese B. (2000) Alternative therapies for menopause. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 43(1):162-83.
- Seelig, M. et al. (2004) Benefits and Risks of Sex Hormone Replacement in Postmenopausal Women J Am Coll Nutr 23: 482S-496S.
- Nielsen FH, et al. (2007) Moderate magnesium deprivation results in calcium retention and altered potassium and phosphorus excretion by postmenopausal women. Magnes Res. 20(1):19-31.
- Nielsen FH, et al. (2007) Dietary magnesium deficiency induces heart rhythm changes, impairs glucose tolerance, and decreases serum cholesterol in post menopausal women. J Am Coll Nutr. 26(2):121-32.
- Ford, ES. Et al. (2007) Intake of dietary magnesium and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among U.S. adults. Obesity 15(5):1139-46.
- He K, et al. (2006) Magnesium intake and incidence of metabolic syndrome among young adults. Circulation. 113(13):1675-82.
- Tramer MR, et al. (1996) Role of magnesium sulfate in postoperative analgesia. Anesthesiology. 84(2):340-7.
- Hornyak M, et al. (1998) Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. Sleep. 21(5):501-5.
- Durlach J, et al. (2002) Chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion with hypofunction or with hyperfunction of the biological clock. Magnes Res. 15(3-4):263-8.