Part 3 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. Here we will discuss why magnesium plays a crucial role in our staying healthy and energetic. We will learn what conditions are made worse with magnesium deficiency and how magnesium deficiency can cause other conditions. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to begin to restore the mineral balance so crucial to proper metabolic function.

Magnesium is used in over 300 enzymatic processes in our body! Magnesium helps our body to manufacture ATP, our cellular energy. Individuals that feel weak and tired may be suffering “mineral deficiencies”, especially calcium, potassium and magnesium which will inhibit the production of our energy molecule ATP! 

ATP also drives the cell membrane pumps that transport magnesium into the cell. Therefore, a vicious cycle can be created by magnesium deficiency from the lack of sufficient ATP synthesis and the resulting lack of cell membrane potential inhibiting the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. Nutrient absorption, enzyme reactions, uptake and release of hormones, neurotransmitters, and the usage of potassium and calcium among other nutrients across the cell membrane can be inhibited as a result.

Besides nutrients moving across the cell membrane, oxygen is moved across the cell membrane with magnesium as the key cofactor. This helps to dilate blood vessels. With magnesium opposing the contractile effect of calcium, proper magnesium stores help to relax muscle, especially the muscle lining blood vessels. This can play a crucial role in lowering blood pressure and reducing asthma attacks. This same mechanism allows magnesium to neutralize a cell membrane helping to calm muscles. This is important in preventing cramping, spasms and maintaining muscle tone, especially in the heart! This is why deficiencies of intracellular magnesium can result in arrhythmias, muscle cramping, uterine contractions, and intestinal cramping and spasms. Magnesium also helps to calm the excitability of nerves which when over excited agitate the heart and push us into stress releasing hormone production.

Magnesium also acts as a cofactor in the sodium/potassium cell membrane pump which is ATP dependent! Improper function of this sodium/potassium pump with insufficient magnesium prevents the proper balance of electrolytes, even if you take them in!

Imbalanced ratios of calcium over magnesium will cause a host of problems. However, magnesium’s check on calcium helps to balance the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, imbalances caused by taking too much calcium when you are low in magnesium can push your brain chemicals out of balance as well as increase your cholesterol and cause osteoporosis!

Magnesium deficiency pre-disposes you to:

Sudden death, cardiovascular disease in the form of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, vascular spasms, angina, hypertension, arrhythmias of extra beats or atrial or ventricular arrhythmias, decreased survival rate after heart attack, increased cardiovascular problems for the pregnant mom as the placenta and fetus drain the mother of her magnesium, decreased athletic performance in long distance runners and rowers, bodybuilders and bikers due to increased muscle cramps, constipation, defects in one’s ability to detoxify heavy metals and other metabolic toxins from the body, osteoporosis, psychotic behavior that includes auditory and visual hallucinations, depression, anxiety, agitation, and panic attacks, seizures, muscle tremors, intestinal spasms, migraines, spasms of the fallopian tubes, spontaneous miscarriage, infertility, restless leg, abdominal and intestinal cramping, spastic tendons, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, headaches, tight neck and shoulders, migraine among the most common disorder associated with magnesium deficiency.

If you are lucky to avoid becoming entrapped by one of the above conditions, then magnesium deficiency can still accelerate aging. People deficient in magnesium suffer higher rates of certain cancers and degenerative conditions, many described above. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, known as Syndrome X and plays a crucial part in the degenerative changes of diabetes and osteoporosis. This leads us to examine what diseases and conditions are made WORSE by magnesium deficiency.

Conditions associated with magnesium deficiency:

These conditions are all made WORSE with an intracellular magnesium deficiency and can all be improved by having optimum magnesium stores replenished: ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, chest pain, angina, anxiety, arrhythmia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, asthma, autism, auto-immune disorders that cause allergies, low cortisol and adrenal fatigue, elevated cortisol, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a blocked thyroid, cavities, cerebral palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, alcohol withdrawal, alcoholism, chronic constipation, crooked teeth, depression, diabetes Type 1, diabetes Type 2, bulimia, anorexia, fibromyalgia, peptic ulcers, spontaneous miscarriage, spastic colon, Chron’s disease, Grave’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypoglycemia, infantile seizures, insomnia, kidney stones, cluster migraines, migraines in general, mitral valve prolapse, multiple sclerosis, muscle cramps, restless leg, muscle weakness, fatigue, myopia, obesity, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, PMS, primary pulmonary hypertension, Reynaud’s syndrome, SIDS, stroke, Syndrome X, insulin resistance, thyroid disorders where low magnesium reduced T4, low or high thyroid conditions other than auto-immune, and including autoimmune thyroid conditions, intestinal mal-absorption, the elderly, pregnancy, heavy metal toxicity, burns over a significant portion of the body.

Let’s take a look at the following significant conditions and see how they cause magnesium deficiency and in turn make these conditions even worse!

1)      Chronic pain

2)      Surgery

3)      Asthma

4)      Irritable bowel, intestinal mal-absorption

5)      Being elderly

6)      Being pregnant

7)      Having “sticky blood”

8)      Insulin resistance, Syndrome X

9)      Diabetes

10)  Menopause, estrogen dominance

11)  Osteoporosis

12)  Taking too much calcium

13)  Parathyroid imbalances

14)  Heavy metal toxicity

Chronic pain

Any condition that causes chronic pain of any type, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, carpal tunnel, migraine, back pain, neck pain, headaches, soft tissue traumas and burns, causes magnesium to be consumed at a faster rate. This is especially troublesome for fibromyalgia patients who suffer other metabolic imbalances. Careful attention to the type of magnesium they are taking and their relative ratios of calcium, phosphorous, and other core minerals with proper laboratory testing is essential to rebalancing intracellular magnesium and reducing the threshold of pain!


Surgery in general causes stress, which induces an acid metabolic state. Magnesium is consumed to neutralize this acid state. If you add the pain after surgery, you add another source for burning magnesium during your recovery stage. Heart surgery is a particular red flag for watching intracellular magnesium values, especially since increased magnesium increases the longevity and recovery rate for those who had suffered heart attacks.


Bronchial asthma has long been associated with low intracellular magnesium. Magnesium has been reported to counter the toxic effects of asthma medications. Magnesium not only acts as a buffer to histamine and stress hormones elevated in this condition but its calming effect upon smooth muscle inhibits spastic contractions that make this condition chronic and life threatening.

Irritable bowels, intestinal mal-absorption

Any type of inflammation of the digestive tract will impact one’s absorption of minerals and other core nutrients. Celiac sprue, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel, acid reflux, intestinal resections all cause magnesium mal-absorption.  A bowel with insufficient probiotics, as well as a bowel overloaded with pathogenic bacteria, such as streptococcus, clostridia, pseudomonas, staphylococcus, and intestinal yeast and candida will reduce one’s ability to absorb magnesium.

Low magnesium to calcium ratios and low bone magnesium will accelerate bone thinning and demineralization, accelerating the process of osteoporosis.

Stomach aches and abdominal pains are made worse in children and adults with marginal magnesium stores irrespective of the state of their intestinal system. It was found that taking additional magnesium helped to buffer the biochemical effects of stress hormones, especially in those children and adults who tend to suffer from anxiety and greatly improved intestinal motility for better bowel performance.

Peptic ulcers improve for individuals on magnesium supplementation, as magnesium deficiency intensifies the ulcer by increasing the secretion of histamine, an inflammatory immune modulator. It might be wise for all individuals suffering from chronic inflammation to examine their magnesium supplementation and increase their dosages to buffer histamine reactions.

Part 4 will discuss the remaining listed conditions and how they create magnesium deficiency and will also go into detail on how you can determine what your magnesium needs are.

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