Magnesium supplementation is becoming increasingly popular. Why? Chronic latent deficiency is becoming more and more common in the general population, even though magnesium is indispensable. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 physiological processes in your body!
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Magnesium is an activator in more than 300 metabolic reactions, including energy production, protein and nucleic acid synthesis, cell growth and division, and protection of cell membranes.
As a calcium channel blocker, it regulates neurotransmitters, muscle contraction and relaxation and thus influences mental functions, (heart) muscle function, neuromuscular control, muscle tone and blood pressure. It is therefore obvious that a deficiency will cause the body to malfunction.
Calcium and magnesium are opposites but work as a team. For example:
• Calcium exists mainly outside cells, while almost all magnesium is found inside cells.
• Calcium stimulates the nerves; magnesium calms them down.
• Calcium with potassium causes muscles to contract, but magnesium is needed for muscles to relax.
• Calcium is necessary for the clotting reaction—essential for wound healing—but magnesium keeps blood flowing freely and prevents abnormal thickening when clotting reactions would be dangerous.
• Calcium is mainly found in the bones and gives them much of their hardness, while magnesium is mainly found in soft structures. Bone matrix, the soft structure in bone, contains protein and magnesium and gives bones some flexibility and resistance to brittleness.
Calcium cannot be used optimally without proper magnesium balance. Research shows that calcium intake has increased 2 to 2.5 times as fast as magnesium intake. As a result, the calcium/magnesium ratio has increased and can reach up to 5:1. The ideal ratio is 1:1 to 2:1. The 2:1 ratio comes from French magnesium researcher Jean Durlach as an upper limit not to be exceeded.
To stay healthy, the average adult man should take in 350 mg and the average adult woman 300 mg per day. Two-thirds of the population in the Western world do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium (1). This is partly because the magnesium content of foods gradually decreases because of food processing. Other causes of magnesium deficiency are diseases, stress, drugs, alcohol, and caffeine consumption. Severe magnesium deficiency is rare, but chronic latent deficiency is common in the general population and even more so in people suffering from several chronic diseases or stress (2).
Magnesium and stress
Magnesium deficiency and stress are both common conditions among the general population, which can increase the risk of health consequences over time. Numerous studies, both in preclinical and clinical settings, have investigated the interaction of magnesium with key mediators of the physiological stress response and have shown that magnesium plays a key inhibitory role in the regulation and neurotransmission of the normal stress response. In addition, low magnesium status has been reported in several nutritional studies in individuals suffering from psychological stress or associated symptoms. This overlap in the results suggests that stress could increase magnesium loss, leading to a deficiency; and in turn, a magnesium deficiency can increase the body’s sensitivity to stress, resulting in a vicious cycle of magnesium and stress. Magnesium supplementation shows benefits in stressed but otherwise healthy subjects(2).
Clinical studies suggest that magnesium supplementation has antihypertensive effects and is effective in treating and preventing many (chronic) diseases, such as:
• stress, anxiety, and depression
• insulin resistance
• diabetes mellitus type 2
• heart and vascular disease
• hearing damage and tinnitus
• Alzheimer’s disease
Magnesium and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is often misdiagnosed. Half of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s suffer from brain toxicity, due to lifelong accumulation of toxins, chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies, which prevents normal detoxification. The connection between magnesium deficiency, the presence of heavy metals and Alzheimer’s disease cannot be overlooked. As far back as 1990, world-renowned magnesium researcher Dr. Jean Durlach stated: “Magnesium depletion, particularly in the hippocampus (that part of the brain associated with short- and long-term memory), appears to be an important pathogenic factor in Alzheimer’s disease. It is associated with high aluminum uptake in brain neurons.” (3)