Home' Nova National : March 2011 Contents HEALTH NATUROPATHY
© NOVA MARCH 2011
JEREMY HILL: NDAdv, HMAdv, NutAdv
CORRECTING A SIMPLE magnesium
deficiency can have a significant impact
on several important aspects of health,
improving both subjective symptomatic
and measurable biochemical parameters.
According to one recent study, this is
information many of us need to hear, with
over 75% of study participants ingesting
less than the recommended daily intake
(RDI) for magnesium. And given that
magnesium is required for such important
stuff as nervous system health, brain
function, blood vessel health, blood
pressure regulation and heart function, the
fact that magnesium deficiency is actually
as common as it is these days is both
surprising and very concerning.
Involved in over 300 enzyme functions
within the body and crucial to effective
cellular mitochondria (the cell’s energy
factories), magnesium is strongly involved
in energy production within the body’s
cells. It takes a higher priority than even
the well known B vitamins within the citric
acid cycle to produce Adenosine
Triphosphate. ATP is the chemical our
bodies make to give us the energy needed
to perform everything from walking and
talking, to breathing, detoxifying and
keeping your heart beating.
As many people who have low
magnesium may not be suffering the
extreme signs of acute deficiency, the
condition typically remains unnoticed
and thus uncorrected. Subsequently, the
slower, but still significant, consequences
of a chronic deficiency over many years can
lead to a wide array of metabolic disorders.
These can include fatigue, a tendency to
gain weight due to a sluggish metabolism,
a lower stress threshold and increased
anxiety, elevated blood pressure, headaches
and muscular twitches, cramps, aches and
Leafy greens, legumes and nuts and
seeds may be good sources of magnesium,
but many soils are lacking a good level of
the mineral. And plants that grow in
deficient soils simply cannot pass on what is
Modern processing of whole grains
into more refined forms has also severely
affected the level of magnesium found in
one of our major sources of this helpful
My favourite magnesium source by far
has to be wonderful chocolate, but it has
to be a low sugar, cocoa-rich dark choco-
late. And, as with chocolate, attaining good
amounts of magnesium from the rest of
your diet involves choices. Many people
do not seem to respect their bodies
enough or they simply lack the basic level
of nutritional knowledge needed to allow
them to choose and prepare a balanced mix
of foods that are both nutrient dense and
calorie poor. And I include here chronic
consumption of alcohol, which has been
shown to be one of the major causes of
magnesium loss from the body.
Apart from dietary deficits, other causes
of low magnesium levels can include
an increased loss through sweating, or
through greater demand from being under
a lot of stress over a long period of time.
In keeping with the stress effect, chronic
insomnia has likewise been shown to
deplete the body’s magnesium stores.
Inflammation can also decrease your
level of magnesium, with acute phase
proteins binding to magnesium in the
blood. For this reason, chronic inflam-
mation can affect magnesium and the level
of other crucial minerals such as zinc. A
low magnesium level will also reduce
energy production in such obscure areas
as the absorptive cells of the digestive
system. This has the effect of reducing the
absorption of any nutrients that enter the
body by way of active transport systems.
This includes magnesium. Finally, mag-
nesium absorption, like so many things we
value, just gets markedly worse as we age.
Magnesium is often employed to help
relieve a wide range of conditions, such as
PMS and hypertension, and with a quarter
of the body’s magnesium found within
the muscles, it comes in handy when
addressing the muscle pain and weakness
And with over half the body’s
magnesium stored in our bones and
playing a role in supporting osteoblast cell
function, it is no surprise to find it is also
used to support bone health all the
way through from growing bones to
strengthening osteoporotic ones.
Magnesium is particularly important
for cardiovascular health, with a low level
inducing several detrimental changes,
including higher cardiac cell calcium levels,
more oxidative stress and an increase in
both diastolic and systolic blood pressure
levels. These changes are obviously
unwanted in everyone, but particularly
unwelcome in those with an already
unhealthy heart, especially when combined
with the reduced energy production that
a low magnesium level brings to the poor
Magnesium has even shown benefits
in managing certain types of depression,
as well as improving the level of exercise
tolerance, particularly in those with specific
increased metabolic needs.
There are several forms of magnesium
available, with some formulated more for
musculoskeletal relief, while others have
been put together with cardiac issues
more in mind. Some are even designed to
address bowel issues such as constipation
by inducing stool looseness due to the
poor absorption of this type of magnesium.
Interestingly, this form is the one most
commonly used in formulas (chosen for
cost, not quality).
Absorption can vary quite a lot between
mineral forms, so be sure to choose one
that is appropriate to your needs and take
it at a dose that is right for you. Ideally,
seek the advice of a qualified naturopath. ●
Good health, Jeremy.
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