THE MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY EPIDEMIC

2010/06/12
Published

Part 1 of  6

Why do we care if we are magnesium deficient? And how deficient do we have to be to start caring?! So what if we tend to have one bad habit that will deplete us of magnesium? Should we be waiting and looking for a specific condition or symptom(s) associated with magnesium deficiency before we do something? The purpose of these articles on magnesium is to wake us up to the significance that magnesium plays in our health. It gives us energy, prevents bone loss, osteoporosis, helps balance our hormones, and helps us with sugar metabolism issues. It helps us excrete heavy metals and other toxins. Most significantly, we hope this article wakes us up to magnesium’s key role in improving more common conditions that plague us that we take for granted as incurable or un-improvable, and lead us to the need to take blood pressure medications and osteoporosis medications in some cases and in other cases keep us drug dependent for lack of any other hope. We can even avoid premature death, if we pay attention to magnesium!

We suggest that you read the entire set of articles here on magnesium, then print it. Go back and highlight all things that pertain to you and add them up to see how many risk factors are pushing you or keeping you in a state of magnesium deficiency. Then get tested, start to optimize your intracellular magnesium and watch how your health begins to improve!

Why Are We Magnesium Deficient?

Our food source is deficient in magnesium. Fertilizers contain potassium and phosphorus. Both organic and regular farming practices use fertilizers. These fertilizers alter a plant’s ability to take in and store magnesium. Therefore, modern farming practices help to deplete our food supply of much needed magnesium to begin with.

How we prepare our food impacts the amount of magnesium we have to absorb. Food processing removes magnesium. Broiling, steaming, and boiling food in water leaches out more magnesium.

Our lifestyle depletes us of magnesium in too many ways! What we do on a daily and regular basis in terms of our lifestyle habits sets us up for mineral depletions and toxic exposures. It sets the course for our imbalances that lead to disease and premature death.

Let’s look at the principal lifestyle factors that lead us toward chronic magnesium deficiency:

1)      Alcohol consumption

2)      Coffee consumption

3)      Refined carbohydrate and sugar consumption

4)      Soda consumption

5)      High fat consumption

6)      Some prescription drugs

7)      Hormone replacement therapy

8)      Recreational drugs

9)      Dieting

10)  Liquid protein fasts

11)  Weekend warriors, extreme athletes, overtraining, excessive sweating

12)  Stress

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol of any kind causes significant loss of magnesium from our body through our urine. Alcohol increases urination of magnesium and is a number one factor in heart-rhythm abnormalities encountered with heavy drinkers. Habitual long term alcohol consumption leads a person into excessive magnesium excretion, intracellular magnesium deficiency results. Tremors, hallucinations, convulsions, hypertension, arrhythmias, osteoporosis, and sudden cardiac death can result. Magnesium therapy can easily reverse this.

Coffee

Coffee depletes our body of magnesium, B vitamins, L-lysine, making us more prone to stress. Coffee sets us up to become acidic, deficient in B vitamins and L-lysine, essential to keep viral infections suppressed (herpes, canker sores). Stress makes us need more B vitamins and makes us even more acidic. Being acidic causes us to need even more magnesium! The result is a vicious cycle of B vitamin deficiency, increased incidence of outbreaks in herpes, canker sores, chronic viral infections, and fatigue from loss of magnesium. Coffee alone is not bad. However, if you are already acidic, under lots of stress, living a modern lifestyle, or have hidden or chronic viral infections such as herpes, then you are not helping yourself with this habit.

Refined carbohydrates and sugar

Eating refined carbohydrates such as white sugar, processed food, high fructose corn syrup or processed flour (white flour) depletes our body of magnesium because we burn up our magnesium faster to metabolize the refined carbohydrates. These carbohydrates also make us more acidic and we use magnesium to buffer our acidic state, burning magnesium to put us back into a state of ph balance.

Sodas

Besides sugary drinks, fruit drinks filled with corn syrup, sodas and carbonated beverages deplete the body of magnesium and calcium stores by their chemical nature and by the fact that they make us acidic. It matters not weather they are diet or regular sodas. Caffeinated sodas cause even more depletion of magnesium. Sodas are a leading factor in our children developing osteoporosis by young adulthood. 

High fat diets

High fat diets burn magnesium at a faster rate. When magnesium becomes depleted, the rate of plaque formation in the arteries accelerates! Magnesium deficiency alters fatty acid metabolism such that linoleic acid is converted to the high inflammatory arachidonic acid which will increase blood coagulation, meaning the blood will tend be more sticky. This leads to blood clots and strokes. This is reversed by magnesium supplementation to the extent that even triglycerides and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) can be decreased. One study increased HDL by 27% after magnesium supplementation.  Therefore, take your magnesium supplements with your burger and fries if you must have them!

Some prescriptions drugs

Some prescription drugs such as Cyclosporin deplete the body of magnesium. Taking extra “balanced” magnesium will be protective against the side effects of Cyclosporin.

Certain blood pressure medications cause excessive excretion of magnesium due to their diuretic effects. Switching medications from hydrochlorothiazides to a beta-adrenergic blocking agent such as propranolol can help to preserve excessive magnesium loss but also come with their own set of side effects. Therefore, magnesium supplements might be the better choice over switching one’s medications.

Other drugs known to deplete the body of magnesium are: amphotericin B, cisplatin,  ethanol, gentamicin, pentamidine.

Recreational drugs

Taking amphetamines and cocaine are just plain bad, but one mechanism of sudden death is the depletion of intracellular myocardial magnesium.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Women need estrogen to absorb magnesium! If there is insufficient magnesium present however, the calcium/magnesium ratio can shift out of balance where calcium dominates. There are no symptoms of this. Elevated 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 or does not know if their ratio of calcium to magnesium is elevated, 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 lead you quicker to stroke.

Dieting

Diet pills that are diuretics, or especially those that contain phentermine, or fenfluramine also deplete the body of magnesium stores.

Starvation diets: Studies of concentration camp survivors and those engaged in starvation diets to loose weight found that even with high magnesium supplementation for months, the stress hormones induced by starvation interfered with the uptake of magnesium for several months thereafter despite adequate magnesium supplementation. In addition, starvation diets often caused sudden cardiac death from severe depletion of heart magnesium. This is one mechanism for sudden death in those that suffer from anorexia.

Short term and long term fasting does cause magnesium loss but generally not in such extremes as to cause low intracellular magnesium which would lead to cardiac symptoms or sudden death. Another long term fasting study of three months showed an average loss of 20% body magnesium that resulted in the development of carpal tunnel spasms that were relieved by intravenous magnesium therapy.

Liquid protein diets can cause such acidity that significant intracellular magnesium is lost even in the presence of normal serum magnesium levels. Deaths by ventricular fibrillation resulted despite individuals supplemented with calcium and potassium. What was not detected was confirmed on autopsy that the heart lesions were caused by depletion of heart intracellular magnesium! Intracellular magnesium is never tested for in routine hospital or emergency visits! Magnesium had not been supplemented during the high protein fast! Again because it has been so difficult to test for low intracellular magnesium, and it is so easy to take additional magnesium supplements, a little knowledge about this underappreciated mineral could save a life!

Part 2 will discuss the remaining significant lifestyle factors that drive us toward chronic magnesium deficiency and can even cause sudden death!

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