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Magnesium...Miracle Mineral?

Have you ever heard the question, “what’s the matter with you, do you have rocks in your head?” I must admit that as a kid, I heard that more than once. I was a little “day dreamy”, and often lacked complete focus on what I was doing at the time. Happily, most of that focus problem has subsided (please don’t ask my wife!). The good thing is, however, I still have rocks in my head…and so do you. Without them, our brains couldn’t form a thought. They’re called minerals and without them, we wouldn’t be alive.

Let’s focus on a mineral that’s beginning to get a lot more attention in health studies and medical publications...Magnesium. First, we need to establish some brief facts that tend to cause the eyes to glaze over. Stay with me for just a second, I promise it’s worth it. Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal that is the fourth most abundant element in the earth as a whole (behind iron, oxygen, and silicon), and is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. Its ions are essential to all living cells, playing a huge role in controlling polyphosphate compounds in our bodies; like DNA, ATP, and RNA. Uh...What? Let me put it this way, magnesium is one of the most important minerals we consume, and a deficiency can wreak havoc on the healthy balance our bodies try to preserve.

Magnesium is largely stored in our bones (50%), while most of the rest can be found in the cells of our tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in our blood, but our bodies work hard to keep that level constant. When magnesium levels are deficient, it can set the stage for disease. Many people know the magnesium-heart connection, but other ailments (and benefits) tied to magnesium levels may surprise you.

Ladies...we’ll start the conversation with you. Menopause is an eventual concern in every woman’s life. This hormonal change in a woman’s mid-life greets her by producing hot flashes, night sweats, menstrual irregularities, and a host of other lovely maladies. It also causes a drop in magnesium levels. Definitely nothing that ladies look forward to, I’m sure. Magnesium to the rescue! It has been shown that supplemental magnesium intake in the range of 310-350 mgs. Daily, greatly reduces hot flashes and night sweats in pre-menopausal and menopausal women. Mood changes, common in pre menopause and menopause, are also positively affected by assuring magnesium levels are correct.

On the subject of mood changes, scientific studies suggest that magnesium supplements may help relieve symptoms associated with PMS; particularly bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness. One study suggests that a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 may work better than either one alone.

Menopausal hormone changes can also increase the risk of osteoporosis, a condition caused by bone density loss. Magnesium works in concert with calcium to keep bones strong and dense, so the magnesium deficiency that is prevalent in menopause should be cause for concern. A study completed in 2007, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, shows that trace mineral supplementation; particularly magnesium, zinc, and copper…may have beneficial effects on bone density. While more clinical research should be completed, strong bones and reduced symptoms of menopause are effects of magnesium intake that shouldn’t be ignored.

Both the Iowa Women’s Health Study (40,000 women) and the Nurse’s Health Study (85,060 women, 42,872 men) have both shown that low magnesium levels contribute to Type 2 diabetes. The NHS study followed women for 18 years, and men for 12 years. Over time, the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes was greater in men and women with a lower magnesium intake. This study supports the dietary recommendation to increase consumption of major dietary sources of magnesium; such as whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and naturally obtained magnesium supplements. (Such as pH Thrive!)

Magnesium metabolism is really important to insulin sensitivity and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium deficiency is common in individuals with diabetes. The observed associations between magnesium metabolism, diabetes, and high blood pressure increase the likelihood that magnesium metabolism may influence cardiovascular disease. That brings us to the starting subject of Part 2: Cardiovascular health and the impact of magnesium levels in both women and men. The evidence is stacking up, people...stay tuned for Part 2: Magnesium, Miracle Mineral?