Magnesium

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Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50 percent of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1 percent of magnesium is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant.

A lack of magnesium underlies our epidemic of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Minus magnesium, hearts beat irregularly; arteries stiffen, constrict and clog; blood pressure rises; blood tends to clot; muscles spasm; insulin grows weaker and blood sugar jumps; bones lose strength; and pain signals intensify.

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Many people needlessly suffer pain -- including fibromyalgia, migraines and muscle cramps -- because they do not get enough magnesium. Many people worsen the problem by loading up on calcium, which flushes magnesium out of cells. Don't be one of them - try Nature Made High Potency Magnesium Softgels.

Who may need extra magnesium?

Magnesium supplementation may be indicated when a specific health problem or condition causes an excessive loss of magnesium or limits magnesium absorption.

  • Some medicines may result in magnesium deficiency, including certain diuretics, antibiotics, and medications used to treat cancer (anti-neoplastic medication). Examples of these medications are: Diuretics: Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide. Antibiotics: Gentamicin, and Amphotericin. Anti-neoplastic medication: Cisplatin.
  • Individuals with poorly-controlled diabetes may benefit from magnesium supplements because of increased magnesium loss in urine associated with hyperglycemia.
  • Magnesium supplementation may be indicated for persons with alcoholism. Low blood levels of magnesium occur in 30 to 60 percent of alcoholics, and in nearly 90 percent of patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal. Anyone who substitutes alcohol for food will usually have significantly lower magnesium intakes.
  • Individuals with chronic malabsorptive problems such as Crohn's disease, gluten sensitive enteropathy, regional enteritis, and intestinal surgery may lose magnesium through diarrhea and fat malabsorption. Individuals with these conditions may need supplemental magnesium.
  • Individuals with chronically low blood levels of potassium and calcium may have an underlying problem with magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplements may help correct the potassium and calcium deficiencies.
  • Older adults are at increased risk for magnesium deficiency. The 1999-2000 and 1998-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys suggest that older adults have lower dietary intakes of magnesium than younger adults. In addition, magnesium absorption decreases and renal excretion of magnesium increases in older adults. Seniors are also more likely to be taking drugs that interact with magnesium. This combination of factors places older adults at risk for magnesium deficiency. It is very important for older adults to consume recommended amounts of dietary magnesium.

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 320mg for women, 400mg for men. Many authorities take a 400mg-magnesium supplement daily. Possible side effects: Diarrhea or loose stools. The body will usually adapt, however, but if not, you can cut back. Avoid magnesium supplements if you have kidney disease. On the other hand, you need extra magnesium if you drink alcohol or if you take diuretics or high doses of calcium. Those all deplete magnesium.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts is another name for magnesium sulfate. Named after Epsom, England, where they were discovered in the late 1500s, Epsom salts are a potent supplier of magnesium, great for muscle softening soaks that help to heal skin conditions. A half-cup of Epsom salts and your favorite essential oils make a terrific therapeutic bath.

Magnesium and Stones

In a study of more than 42,000 men, those who reported consming the most magnesium from foods (they averaged 430 milligrams a day) had a 30 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with gallstones over the next 16 years than those who ate the least magnesium (260mg a day). Other studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the risk of diabetes, and many people get less magnesium than experts recommend (320mg a day for women and 420mg a day for men).

Doctors can evaluate magnesium status when above-mentioned medical problems occur, and determine the need for magnesium supplementation.

Ten essential benefits of magnesium

01.  Heart arrhythmias. Magnesium deficiency predisposes people to serious, even deadly, heart arrhythmias - irregular and abnormally fast heartbeats or atrial fibrillation.

02.  Blocked arteries. High blood magnesium cuts your odds of dying from common "ischemic" heart disease (blocked or narrowed arteries) by one-third. Other research shows magnesium shortages lower good HDL cholesterol and accelerates hardening of the arteries.

03.  Blood pressure. The higher the magnesium inside your cells, the more apt you are to have lower blood pressure, more elastic blood vessels and a less enlarged heart. Supplements can help normalize blood pressure.

04.  Diabetes. Diabetes is a magnesium deficiency state. Eighty-percent of diabetics have low intracellular magnesium. Research suggests low magnesium boosts your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by one-third. Supplements can improve insulin activity and may cut diabetes' risk and complications. Some specialists tell diabetics to take 400mg magnesium daily.

05.  Strong bones. Magnesium is as vital as calcium in preventing osteoporosis. It is essential for normal bone metabolism. Tufts researchers found high magnesium intake predicted higher bone mass and less bone loss in the elderly.

06.  Migraines. Half of migraine sufferers have low magnesium and upping magnesium has reduced the duration, intensity and frequency of migraines.

07.  Sound sleep. Several studies show a lack of magnesium can alter electrical activity in the brain, causing agitated sleep and frequent awakenings.

08.  Safer pregnancy. Extensive research shows that magnesium lessens pre-eclampsia, in which blood pressure soars in late pregnancy, upping the risk of spontaneous abortions and premature, low-birth weight babies. A large British study of 10,000 women in 33 countries confirms that taking magnesium sulphate supplements reduced the hazard by 50-percent.

09.  Pain relief. If you have leg cramps or other muscle cramps, taking 100mg to 400mg magnesium daily may bring relief. Extra magnesium also may help prevent or relieve painful myalgias (including the syndrome known as fibromyalgia), chronic lower back pain, restless legs syndrome, erythromelalgia (a painful dilation of skin blood vessels) and chronic fatigue syndrome. Magnesium reduces a pain transmitter in the nervous system called substance P.

10.  Extra Benefits. Taking magnesium could counteract the heart attack and stroke hazards of hormone replacement therapy. Research shows magnesium counters estrogen's clot-producing abilities. Further magnesium may help treat premature ejaculation and relieve certain symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Magnesium from food: Nuts, meats, leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. Eating a wide variety of legumes, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables will help you meet your daily dietary need for magnesium.

Food Sources of Magnesium

Nuts and seeds per ounce: Mixed Nuts

Wheat bran cereals per 1-ounce:

  • 100-percent bran: 134mg
  • All Bran: 106mg
  • Wheat germ: 90mg
  • Raisin Bran: 48mg

Legumes per one-half cup:

  • Tofu: 94mg
  • Baked Beans: 72mg
  • Chickpeas (cooked, canned): 52mg
  • Lentils (cooked): 43mg

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Potato (medium, w/skin): 56mg
  • Spinach (1-cup raw, one-half cup cooked): 52mg
  • Avocado (one-half Hass): 35mg
  • Banana (medium): 34mg

Seafood -- 3 ounces:

  • Shrimp (cooked, peeled): 43mg
  • Salmon: 31mg

Source:  USDA

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Food for Thought

Supplement Safety: The American Association of Poison Control Centers, published in the journal "Clinical Toxicology," no deaths have ever been found from vitamin or mineral supplements.

Another study discovered there were about 100,000 deaths per year from pharmaceutical drugs and none for natural supplements. Over a 10 year period, pharmaceuticals killed 1 million people.

Putting this into perspective: That is more than all the Americans killed in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War - combined.

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