by guest blogger Morley Robbins, wellness coach and magnesium advocate
Any organic farmer knows that it’s dangerous to create a monoculture farm. And parallels can be drawn about advice on nutrition: It, too, can be dangerous when based on a single nutrient. Sort of… Let me explain.
We’ve all been trained over the past 40 years to “up” our calcium, hearing from our doctors, nutritionists, trainers, and public health officials that the mineral was key to ensure proper health, and especially important for avoiding osteoporosis. America complied, dutifully. Despite this protocol, the rate of the dreaded bone disease has risen almost 700 percent during the most recent period studied. Worse yet, the research is now showing that this dietary policy is not just doubtful, but downright dangerous.
Missing in all this discussion has been any meaningful information or focus about calcium’s biological “antagonist:” magnesium.
Magnesium? I get that in my greens and my supplement, right? Possibly. But is it getting absorbed? Here are 10 important facts to know about magnesium (Mg) that might just surprise you, and, in fact, may extend your life:
- Magnesium regulates calcium. All three of the body’s calcium-regulating hormones (calcitonin, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and vitamin D) are dependent upon Mg for their proper production and regulation. Yeah, I was surprised, too, when I learned that. But it turns out that excess, unregulated calcium is a harbinger of many problems in the body, and is a prime cause of “brittle bones” in our skeletal structure, which happens when there is insufficient Mg in our body.
- Magnesium activates vitamin D. There is no more misunderstood hormone on this planet than vitamin D. I will sidestep the bulk of that confusion (for now), but will point out that our bodies require Mg to convert storage vitamin D (the form of the supplement you are likely taking) to active vitamin D (the form of the hormone that does so many amazing things in your body). It’s possible that your doctor doesn’t even know this—most don’t.
- Magnesium regulates the electrolytes. The what? It turns out we are giant batteries that run on electricity. The source of that electricity is minerals, especially the four key electrolytes: calcium, sodium, potassium, and, of course, magnesium. We’ve covered calcium above, but know that the sodium/potassium (Na/K) pump that is in all 100 trillion cells of our body, and is central to our overall well-being, is totally dependent on Mg to run properly and keep these minerals in balance.
- Magnesium is essential for digestive enzymes. The macronutrients we eat daily (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) each require a different set of enzymes to ensure proper metabolism and use in our bodies. It turns out that Mg is key to the production of all three classes of enzymes.
- Magnesium prevents sudden cardiac death. Since the pioneering work of Chipperfield and Chipperfield (whose findings were published in Lancet in1973), medicine has known that severe Mg deficiency was the cause of sudden death related to heart events. This fact was recently re-confirmed in a study this past year, just to amplify the point for the latest generation. Heart disease is a symptom of Mg deficiency. Readers beware.
- Magnesium regulates the enzyme that makes cholesterol. The body makes cholesterol for a reason. All steroid hormones that run our bodies (stress hormones, sex hormones, and so forth) are ultimately made from cholesterol. Hmmmm. So, high cholesterol means I’m stressed out? Likely. So what’s a better way to deal with stress? Get more Mg in your diet and take more Mg supplements.
- Magnesium is essential for energy production. We derive our energy from the Krebs citric acid cycle (sorry to go geek on you) Every molecule of glucose that gets metabolized requires 28 molecules of Mg to make it happen. In fact, every transaction in the body that requires energy (most do, by the way) requires the presence of Mg and energy-storing adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—it’s that central to our energy status, as well as our health status.
- Magnesium is essential for proper insulin levels. You cannot produce insulin, you cannot secrete insulin, and your cells cannot recognize insulin without proper levels of Mg. Study after study has proven the central role of Mg in controlling blood sugar levels. Your doctor has told you that, right? And if you’re diagnosed with prediabetes (as 75 million Americans now are), you’ve had your Mg levels checked, right?
- Magnesium prevents depression. Scientists have known since 1926 that excess calcium, and too little Mg, correlates with people reporting they feel depressed. You mean it’s largely a mineral imbalance? Yup. The fact that many of the top 20 highest-selling drugs in America are antidepressants is indicative of how imbalanced our bodies have become. (See #1, above…)
- Magnesium is deficient in most Americans’ bodies. Numerous studies over the last several years have confirmed what the Mg-oriented health practitioners and researchers have known all along: We are missing sufficient levels of this critical nutrient. How did that happen? Ah, a subject of a future post…
Yes, it is but one nutrient. But it happens to be the orchestra conductor of the cell.
There are a few ways to tell if you’re deficient in Mg. Here’s a brief listing of key symptoms (in addition to the conditions noted above…) that indicate that your body is looking for more Maggie, as I like to call it:
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Muscle cramps, especially in the night
- Facial ticks and twitches
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Migraines (about 70 percent are related to Mg deficiency and imbalance)
- High blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Poor sleep patterns
- Raynaud’s syndrome
What to do? Start by incorporating these 11 foods into your diet. Then, in subsequent posts, I plan to indicate how best to measure Mg deficiency, how to hold on to the Mg you have, as well as what supplements offer the best recovery.
My intent is to make this interactive and shed important light on the true origin of the biological dysfunction that is ravaging America. It is epidemic, but it is also reversible.
I invite your questions, your comments, but most of all your open minds to the truth about the stealth factor in disease in America. We have been misled. We are being misfed. I will help pull back the curtain for all to see…
“You can trace every ailment, every sickness, and every disease to a mineral deficiency…”
—Linus C. Pauling, PhD, Two-time (unshared) Nobel laureate
Morley Robbins has been actively serving the healthcare field for the last 32+ years, as a hospital executive, healthcare consultant, and now Wellness Coach. Following a successful career managing and consulting to hospitals and health care systems, he realized that he could no longer stand the revolving door mentality of “sick care” centers. He is dedicating the balance of his career to “saving one starfish at a time” by coaching clients about how to eat “real food,” restore their mineral balance, especially their Magnesium status, and thereby, facilitate the process of natural healing. He has discovered the “fountain of youth” in his newfound persona of “Magnesium Man!” and is proud of his efforts to raise awareness about the importance of magnesium via the efforts of Magnesium Advocacy Group (www.magfor.org).
Great article. If you suffer from insomnia ( or the challenges listed above), Mg may be a life-saver. I hope doctors mention Mg to patients with insomnia, headaches… before pulling out a prescription pad.
So how many mgs of magnesium would you recommend taking a day as a supplement?
Wow, what a timely article, as I’ve been researching this very thing all week. Menopause is really kicking my butt lately, and the supplements I’m taking are not helping. Web searching turned up the website Powersurge.com. Scroll down and see where it talks about Borage Oil and Folic Acid in conjunction with the calcium and magnesium. I’m going to put myself on this combo immediately.
Not being a “licensed” health professional, I can’t prescribe amounts, but I can tell you what I would do if I were inside your body… Women are able to metabolize Magnesium (Mg) better than men (and we all know that that’s not the ONLY thing women are better at… ;-o) Part of it depends on the amount of stress in your life, but I would be taking 2X the RDA >> ~750mg/day in divided doses. Your best bet is a chelated form, like MgMalate, or MgGlycinate, or MgOrotate — they are much more bio-available and won’t give you digestive upset. As a guy, I regularly take ~1,000mg/day and am stress-free for the balance of the day.
Keep in mind that Mg’s job, among thousands…, is to see that the body is properly regulated. It’s interesting to note that in Japan, where they have among the highest intakes of Mg on the planet (i.e. seafood, sea vegetables, brown rice, etc.) they do NOT have a word for “hot flash!” Don’t you find that fascinating?…
Please note that the body’s main uptake mechanism for Calcium and Magnesium, the CorA Pathway, found in our gut, is bi-nary. It takes the mineral in highest concentration. If your objective is to up your Mg (which I would strongly advise to regulate your body) then you need to dial back significantly on the Calcium. The research pouring in from outside the U.S. now validates that America, in particular, has too much Calcium in its diet and supplements. Caveat “eator.”
Morley, thank you for the direct reply. I have been reading all the posts on your Magnesium Man website to try to get an idea of what supplements to buy. I do indeed feel I have the symptoms of low Mg, and eagerly await your next article here, and thank you to Maria for this timely health bulletin.
Morley, Thank you very much for your reply. I just went to the health food store and bought Magnesium Glycinate. Thanks for the great article!
Hi Morley– Listened to the podcast with Sean Croxton and now reading leverything I can about magnesium. Can it help with Crohn’s Disease? Since I have Crohn’s my gut is VERY sensitive, would transdermal be best for me (want to avoid any laxative effect). I also live in Chicago, any local sources for good magnesium? Considering consulting with you and Dr. Liz, what is the best way to reach you?
Thanks for your note re Chrohn’s. Yes, Mg can be a critical factor in your recovery, but it’s delicate as you might expect. Knowing your spectrum of stressors (environmental toxins, job stress, Rx medications, etc.), dietary restrictions, etc. is very important context. Also key is knowing your baseline Mg status. I would advise a MagRBC test and likely a hair tissue mineral analysis to better understand the metabolic ratios in your body.
Please feel free to reach out: Morley@MagnesiumMan.com or by phone: 847.922.8061 (M). Dr. Liz and I would be pleased to assist to the extent possible.
Thank you for your article. You concisely presented all the information I’ve been reading about Mg. I started using supplements about 2 months ago and have seen a dramatic positive change.
I had read Mg citrate is the form which is more readily absorbed by our bodies. But that’s not what you’re recommending. Why the difference in opinions?
Thanks Morley! I may be calling you soon.
I’ve worked with ~18 different forms of oral Magnesium, in addition to transdermal, waters, spices, etc. (Yes, most spices like Tumeric, Cayenne, Kale powder, Celery seed are great sources of Mg as well as other goodies…)
It all comes down to obtaining a therapeutic dose. Yes, Mg citrate is very bio-available, but it’s also very sensitive to the bowel. Therapeutic dose, the amount needed to address the chronic conditions that most Americans are now afflicted with (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, PMS, etc.) is 2X the daily RDA — for a woman that’s about 750 mg. I dare you to take that much Mg citrate/day — but just be sure to have a fresh stack of magazines in the Loo. That’s why I prefer Mg malate (Jigsaw Health) or Mg glycinate (Pure Encapsulations) because I know I can get true therapeutic dose and not worry about diarrhea. Remember, it’s not how much is in the tablet, but how much that actually gets into your tissues that matters.
Hope that answers your question!
Thank you very much for your response. Yes, you did answer my question and I really appreciate you responding so quickly. I will look forward to reading more on the Magnesium Advocacy Group webpage.
A relative had severe debilitating jaw pain that the doctors could not explain. I suggested 400 mg Mg daily. Jaw pain gone after two weeks of suplementation
Wonderful article! So informative! Hoping that “Maggie” and I can become friends and co-workers toward great health! 🙂
BFF Maggie, or bust!…
I just bought some magnesius and have been taking for 2 days. I am having weird, hard, heartbeats & the top of my head feel like it is ready to pop! The magnesium I bought is “magnesium amino acid chelate, magesium oxide” 200mg. I have only taken 1 each day. Any connection?
I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and have read scores and scores of articles (actually over 350) re same, that is a decidedly unusual response. Please stop taking that Mg product asap and see if that brings relief. You might be better off pursuing a transdermal route with Epsom Salt baths (1 Cup ES + 1 Cup Arm & Hammer) and fill the tub with hot water. Your other route is footbaths with Mg Oil (1 oz of MgOil) and enough hot water to cover your toes. In both cases, do this for 20-30 min. One final thought, are you taking any Rx medications that this might have reacted with? Several products on the market have this effect. If you wish to discuss further offline, feel free to drop a note Morley@MagnesiumMan.com. Good luck!
Thank you so much for the reply. Will be in touch.
Here’s Dr. Robbins latest post: The 11 Best Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium is my miracle mineral. I began supplementing about 3 months ago. Once I began reading up on magnesium deficiencies everything began clicking and making sense. I am 37 & 10 years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Mine is a long story, but just let me say how magnesium has helped Me in numerous ways…my digestion has improved almost 100%. From top to bottom. My last two periods were the most easing going periods of my adult life & over these last years they became very nightmarish. From hormonal rage, painful cramps to massive bleeding. Again 3 months supplementing & two easy going periods. Amongst other things, there is the lowering of my blood pressure & my sugar levels are on a more even keel. I don’t suffer as bad from vicious cycles of frequent thirst. My energy levels are improving (i was previously suffering from major lethargy & confusion) Again, as I began reading up on magnesium deficiencies did I realize what my body was sorely missing. magnesium. They call it the lamp of life for a reason. Even though I am supplementing heavily mybody is still on the rebound as I use transdermal therapy with magnesium chloride. I also have mg citrate in powder form that i put in my water. I also take mg chloride in pill form as well. I still suffer from muscle tics, twitches, muscle cramps. My legs still like to give me fits sometimes at night. But all of that is much better as well.
Get yourself some mg oil aka mg chloride. Or buy the flakes and read up on how to make your own mg oil. Which is a much cheaper route.
By yourself some celtic sea salt. It is loaded with trace minerals. I have learned that is much like white bread, not so good for us. It should be greyish in color.
Powerade has magnesium
Buy organic produce
Drink lots of water
I was barely existing before magnesium waltzed into my life. Now I am on a journey of a reawakening.
It is a shame that this is such an under appreciated mineral. One that is so vital to our bodies and our poor depleted soils.
I am sorry. I meant that white salt is like white bread…not good for us. Celtic sea salt is much more beneficial. Grey is good
I have just found this website via a Twitter feed and am very grateful. It is well written and easy to understand. Thank you. .I was training for my first marathon when in practising hill training, broke my tibia (without a fall). I have osteopenia at 45 but my dr hasn’t prescribed any medication. So I started my own research as I want to resume my exercise as soon as I can get out of this cast. I am now taking calcium and Vit D supplements, and after reading your article – magnesium! Thank you. Any further titbits of knowledge on this issue would be most appreciated..
God bless you for sharing your story! I have hundreds like that, but we need to get it up into the millions to bend the curve of excess Calcium. One comment, I would encourage the use of Elete Minerals over Powerade. Yes, it does have Mg, but too much sugar rhat must be metabolized with Mg!
Sorry to hear about your leg. Please read The Calcium Controversy by Guy Abraham, MD. Osteoporosis & penia are the result of Magnesium deficiency. If I were in your body, I would bulk up on Maggie (2X RDA), get Calcium in my diet, go outside for Vit-D (I lived on crutches for 6 months) and go to your local health food store to get a homeopathic designed to strengthen healing bones. You’re on the right track & will benefit mightily for bringing Mg back into your life.
Very nice article Morley. I hope in your next post you mention the importance of getting a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.
Is there anything you can do to increase the availabiltiy of Magnesium oxide? Perhaps taking it with lemon water or something like that. I ask this since that is what I have and I’d prefer to use it up before buying one of the ones you suggested. TIA!
Hi Morley. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. It is very helpful. God bless your precious giving heart. I am thinking that maybe one of the reasons of my health problems could be not having enough magnesium in my body. Pain is excruciating! My whole body hurts so bad every second. I get also this HORRIBLE leg pain that makes me cry, and it lasts hours and days, gives me a little rest and then starts again…the only little relief for this kind of pain is massage. I have also a SEVERE pain in my hip. One kind of pain feels at all the time, and it is very painful to get up or bend. Another kind of pain in my hip, feels mostly in my right hand side, and it lowers down my leg, this pain comes with a debilitating weakness from my waist to toes. I can’t be on my feet when I get this pain, and massage does not help. The best I do is walk for very short periods because pain and fatigue will stop me. My shoulders joints are destroyed, and hurt VERY bad that I struggle to brush my hair or get dressed… I have severe problems sleeping, constipation, chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain (worse in my hip, shoulders, neck, and knees), depression, very painful periods (I haven’t got my period since 3 months ago though), headaches, dizziness, nausea, food allergies, severe memory problems ( I could not finish school, and struggle so much to even read and understand simple information from my kid’s school), and my body feels EXTREMELY stressed out EVERY day. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 5 years ago. I suspected a hormone imbalance when I started with some these new symptoms, and old ones got worse ( 7 years ago), but doctor said I was too young to be the hormones ( I was 34 then), even though I shared that my mother was only 40 when her period stopped completely. 3 months ago, another doctor finally made some new tests and showed I have almost none estrogen in my body ( that explains the AGONY I have been living for almost 7 years ), and refused to take the hormone treatment he prescribed me, and got angry when I share my fears about taking those hormones, and mocked me when I shared I would like to try the natural hormones. In these years my bones have been worse and worse… SEVERE pain, and my body is so fragile. I am suffering like you don’t have any idea. I have hope in Jesus. I know He hasn’t forgotten about me. I can’t work and I do not have insurance, but I am trusting God, He will help me to see a natural doctor soon, but while I wait I would like to take some magnesium, calcium and vitamin D3. I do take now vitamin D3 though. Should I take three together, and any idea how much should I take? My 14 years old daughter was diagnosed with juvenile fibromyalgia too, and her doctor tested her vitamins, and she was deficient in vitamin D3 and since we have similar symptoms, and since I read we all need the vitamin D3, my two kids and I started to take some. PLEASE feel free to give any advice about any vitamins or tests I should take. I do have a gluten-free and healthy diet (but many food allergies), workout in my stationary bike for at least an hour (it does not matter how much pain I feel) 6 days a week, and I do pray and read and meditate on God’s Word every day, many times during the day ( this has helped me the most, because by doing this first I have inner strength to do the rest, and it has helped me to endure SO MUCH physical pain). I do not like drugs, but I had no choice really, and for the last three years I have been taking the lower dose only, to help me a little with pain, to be able to sleep. I take 100 mg of Lyrica along with a little more than a half of a 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine at nights only. I am extremely sensitive to drugs; if I take even the lowest dose during the day, it will make me sleepy. Thanks again Morley, and God bless you!
Great point on the value of a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis! It’s an amazing diagnostic tool that is completely misunderstood by most practitioners, allopathic and alternative. I would encourage folks to follow-up with Rick Malter, PhD at http://www.malterinstitute.org
There’s a reason MgOxide is used so extensively by supplement manufacturers — it’s cheap. Most people who need Magnesium the most are stressed out. Under stress, our bodies consume copious amounts of Mg, Zinc and B-Vitamins. In order to properly absorb MgOxide, you need lots of Stomach acid which is dependent on Zinc. Likely that you’re deficient there. I appreciate the fact that $$$’s tight and you want to use it up, I’m more focused on getting people connected with bio-available Mg to alleviate their symptoms. If it were me, I’d track down a Mg Malate, Mg Glycinate, Mg Taurate, or Mg Orotate version. Also, I would advise Epsom Salt baths, Mg oil and a good source of minerals in drops.
My heart goes out to you and your daughter. You are dealing with some very challenging metabolic & mineral imbalances. Feel free to reach out to me offline and I’ll share some additional suggestions for actions to take given your set of conditions. In addition, you might find this link helpful http://www.facebook.com/FluoroquinoloneToxicity/posts/274125932611206
Blessings on your recovery…
Unfortunately I can relate to Yessie, I’m seeing a ND and she has me taking a tsp and a half of mag citrate. But i don’t think it’s enough. I think I have all the mag deficient symptoms:( right now all nerves are on fire, body is twitching and I have these spots on chest that when touched pain is through the roof!! and the fibro and peri men. Thoughts on what type of mag how much and/or any other thoughts? Thx