Part 4 of 6 (The Magnesium Deficiency Epidemic)

In Parts 1 and 2 we discussed why most of us are magnesium deficient and those lifestyle factors that cause us to burn magnesium at a faster rate. In Part 3 we discussed why magnesium plays a crucial role in our staying healthy and energetic. We also learned  which conditions are made worse with magnesium deficiency and how magnesium deficiency can cause us to develop other conditions. Here, we will discuss more conditions and how they create specific needs for magnesium and how ignoring the depletion of magnesium can put us in harms way. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to begin to restore the mineral balance so crucial to proper metabolic function.

The elderly:

The elderly tend to eat less, drink less water, eat more processed foods and take diuretics for blood pressure regulation. This puts them at peculiar risk for deficiencies in total body magnesium. It is also a known fact that the elderly eat less magnesium containing foods.  Is it no wonder why constipation and cardiovascular deaths, and leg cramps are epidemic among the elderly?

Pregnancy and magnesium

Pregnancy increases the mother’s need for magnesium and calcium. Having multiple pregnancies increases the woman’s risk for osteoporosis and hyperparathyroidism of pregnancy. Toxemia in pregnancy, and postpartum heart problems increases one’ chances of blood clotting because of magnesium deficiency. The stress of childbirth and the presence of preeclampsia increases the mother’s draw of magnesium. Magnesium infusions were found to decrease the incidence of stroke and other thrombolytic events associated with these complications from pregnancy.

Magnesium deficiency and “sticky blood”

Sticky blood is a common term for having red blood cells that tend to stick together, called rouleau. Sticky blood is not a good thing. Oxygen transport suffers as does nutrient transport. However, it dramatically increases one’s chances for stroke, because the blood forms mini clots in the body.

What causes sticky blood? Eating foods that we have become immunologically sensitized to, or have developed an allergy to, or foods that react negatively to receptor sites on our red bloods cells now classified as incompatible with our genetic genotype™ will accelerate the formation of sticky blood. Having insufficient digestive enzymes to digest one’s food, and individuals challenged by sugar metabolism issues, having trouble breaking down their carbohydrates, or problems with insulin resistance will tend to have sticky blood. Individuals with fatty livers, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis also suffer from sticky blood. Women taking hormones, whether on birth control pills or for menopause, are at higher risk for sticky blood.

Magnesium deficiency accelerates the rate in which red blood cells tend to stick together, making all the above conditions worse!

Insulin resistance, Syndrome X

Insulin resistance, Syndrome X, having any type of sugar sensitivity or sugar metabolism problem such as reactive hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, or low cortisol or adrenal fatigue causes the same problems of burning more magnesium at a faster rate to accommodate for the problems with sugar metabolism. The body needs magnesium to use insulin properly, helping it convert glycogen to glucose! Magnesium deficiency is prevalent among diabetics. A poll conducted by the American Diabetes Association found that 99% had not been advised by their health care practitioner about magnesium deficiency when over half were taking diuretics for blood pressure control and had a history of heart disease in the family!

Diabetes and magnesium:

Osteoporosis is a common complication of insulin dependent diabetes! Low serum magnesium levels are common in juvenile diabetes. Elevated glucose increases magnesium excretion in the urine. Insulin is necessary for the cellular uptake of magnesium. Insulin resistance makes proper magnesium uptake ineffective, contributing to the acceleration of osteoporosis among diabetics.

Menopause and magnesium:

Estrogen enhances the uptake of magnesium into soft tissue and bones. This can be one more reason why women of childbearing age are more protected from heart disease and osteoporosis. However, if estrogen gets out of balance, elevated estrogen levels coupled with low dietary intake of magnesium causes the body’s biochemistry to shift to increase the calcium ratio over the magnesium. The elevate calcium causes increased fibrin formation leading to the development of clots, and the wasting of bone seen in osteoporosis. Taking calcium when one does not know if they have elevated estrogens will increase their risk for stroke, blood clots, kidney stones, bone spurs and osteoporosis even more! In addition, there is much to suggest that taking magnesium regularly is protective against the formation of clots and arteriospasms that can induce heart attack! Therefore, taking additional or even high dose calcium when you do not know your level of intracellular magnesium and you do not know what your ratio of calcium to magnesium can accelerate osteoporosis, and leading you quicker to stroke.

Osteoporosis and magnesium:

Estrogen deficiency, because of the loss of progesterone in menopausal women, and the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body (when estrogen remains elevated in ratio) results in reduced magnesium absorption. Insufficient magnesium in turn affects osteocytes (depressing the Mg-dependent ATP H+K+ pump) causing reduced bone formation and is a leading mechanism of osteoporosis in menopausal women! Interesting to note is that irrespective of the type of osteoporosis (senile osteoporosis, diabetic osteoporosis, alcohol associated osteoporosis and non-alcoholic cirrhosis induced osteoporosis) all forms showed low magnesium in the bone cortex. This resulted in an excessive acid state of bone extracellular fluid which in turn inhibited bone osteocytes from proper bone formation.

Parathyroid, imbalances in calcium and magnesium ratios:

Unfortunately, with all the focus on taking calcium, little focus is on the consequences of having an imbalance in one’s calcium to magnesium ratio! Taking more calcium than magnesium interferes with magnesium absorption because calcium and magnesium share the same intestinal absorption pathway!

Three possible causes can exist for low calcium aka hypocalcemia which would prompt one’ doctor at first glance to simply recommend higher doses of calcium. Hypocalcemia can be due to the impaired release of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Hypocalcemia can also result from resistance from bone and kidney to PTH and/or defects in the vitamin D synthesis pathway.

It has been found that reversing hypocalcemia happens NOT with increasing your calcium but with magnesium therapy! Magnesium therapy has also been shown to increase one’s responsiveness to vitamin D and PTH! Calcium on the other hand, would continue to tip this out of balance and push the patient into osteoporosis because it is not properly balanced with sufficient magnesium.

Estrogen keeps the parathyroid hormone in check. With loss of estrogen and this can occur without symptoms until it’s advanced, parathyroid hormone’s action goes unchecked leading to increased bone resorption, postmenopausal hyperparathyroidism and osteoporosis. The mechanism is believed to involve magnesium. Low estrogen means low absorption of magnesium which in turn increases calcium loss. Restoring magnesium reverses parathyroid hyperplasia and bone loss.

Women who enter menopause without the tormenting hot flashes still need to have their estrogen levels checked before they are told they have osteoporosis or hyperparathyroidism.

Magnesium also optimizes cacitriol levels along with optimizing vitamin D synthesis, all of which are estrogen dependent! It is an intricate chain reaction and reaffirms that proper hormone balance is essential over the oversimplified suggestion that all you need is more calcium! Estrogen (estrone, estradiol, estriol), progesterone, di-hydroxy-testosterone, leutinizing hormone (LH), parathyroid hormone (PTH), 25(OH)D3, serum magnesium, calcium, all should be checked before anyone takes a calcium supplement. To increase one’s dietary calcium could push you faster into osteoporosis if your magnesium, vitamin D and estrogen levels are also out of balance!

Heavy metal toxicity and chelation:

Magnesium is essential to fuel the liver’s key detoxification pathway. It uses a key amino acid, methionine. Insufficient magnesium means we are unable to bind heavy metals and excrete them through our kidneys and bowels. This is how magnesium protects our cells from the damaging effects of mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium and nickel as well as many other toxins that the liver needs to eliminate. When the heavy metals cannot be bound and excreted by the liver, they become deposited into tissues such as the brain. This is a suspected mechanism for the formation of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. It is also a suggestive mechanism for aggravating conditions such as autism, OCD, chronic fatigue, lyme disease, insomnia, anxiety disorders, hypertension, and many other conditions.

In our next article, Part 5, we will discuss how to determine our relative magnesium needs and how to get tested for intracellular magnesium. Empowered with this knowledge, you will be able to begin to restore the mineral balance so crucial to proper metabolic function.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan