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Magnesium regulates Calcium

Mg Regulates Calcium/ Calcification

Calcium (Ca) / Magnesium (Mg) - The classic ying/yang pair

Neither Mg nor Ca can act without eliciting a reaction from the other - biochemically, Mg and Ca have complementary and antagonistic roles to each other:

–   Mg has a pivotal role in energy production and many cellular metabolic processes

–   Ca is more concerned with structure strength (in bones and teeth) and movement (neuromuscular).


Mg “wears numerous hats”inside the cell:

–   Cofactor with ATPproviding power for the intracellular pumps -E.g. the important Cell “Battery”Pumps (Na+/K+-ATPase),Bicarbonate pumps (HCO3- -ATPase), and Calcium pumps (Ca2+-ATPase) all need Mg2+ATP to maintain effective ionic gradients within and outside the cell.Mg is the second-most abundant positive ion (cation) inside the cell, but most is bound to molecules that regulate energy production, storage and utilization. Mg is required in the mitochondrial respiration cycle (during oxidative phosporylation and anaerobic metabolism of glucose);


Magnesium (Mg) /Calcium (Ca) Interplay

Mg Keeps Ca Dissolved - in bloodstream, heart, brain, kidneys/urine, and in all the tissues in your body. Mg increases Ca solubility in urine and Mg supplementation has demonstrated a significant reduction in recurrence of kidney stones. Try crushing a calcium pill in 1oz water and watch how slowly adding a crushed magnesium pill enables the calcium to dissolve. An insufficiency of Mg to keep Ca dissolved can result in muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, hardening of the arteries and more.

Mg prevents tissue calcification - The higher the calcium level and the lower the magnesium level in the extra-cellular fluid, the harder it is for cells to pump the calcium out.

Mg - Prevents soft tissue calcification


Enzymes - many enzymes whose activities critically depend on a sufficient amount of intracellular magnesium will be detrimentally affected by even small increases in levels of cellular calcium.

Growth of cells, cell division, and parts of metabolism - absolutely depend on Mg availability, but can be compromised if excess calcium is present.

Magnesium is essential for calcium absorption and metabolism –conversely, several studies report that increased calcium intake significantly reduces Mg uptake and utilization;

Magnesium maintains proper blood calcium levels

Nerves - Mg is nature's “Calcium Channel Blocker”in nerve cells – calcium enters nerve cells through calcium channels carefully guarded by Mg, which allows just enough Ca through to create the necessary electrical transmission along the nerve cell, and then once the job is completed, immediately helps to eject the Ca.

Muscles - Calcium is needed to contract a muscle and magnesium is needed to relax it -We use our muscles by selectively contracting them. Muscle contraction is triggered by calcium ions flowing into muscle cells. To relax the muscle calcium is pumped out again. Problems, such as muscle spasms, occur when Ca to Mg ratio becomes too high, usually because of a magnesium deficiency.

Calcium Pumps (Ca2+-ATPases) -Mg is needed to maintain the cell “battery”to provide the power to pump calcium out of cells –most of the enzymes (E.g. ATPase) involved in mitochondrial ATP production require Mg . Up to 30% of cellular energy is used to pump calcium out of the cells;

Mg and Cell “Battery”/ ATP Production

An insufficiency of Mg to ensure smooth running of the calcium pumps can result in calcification of soft tissues responsible for a slew of familiar health problems.

Mg - Prevents soft tissue calcification


Commonly today, a high calcium intake is detrimentally out of proportion with a low magnesium intake

Calcium and magnesium need to be consumed or supplemented in around a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio - Previously thought needed at 4:1 or 2:1, more recent indications suggest Mg intake should be at least on par with calcium to facilitate assimilation of Ca.

Current research on the Paleolithic or caveman diets show that the ratio of their diet was 1:1

Eades M, Eades A, The Protein Power Lifeplan, Warner Books, New York, 1999

Unfortunately, researchers estimate that the Ca:Mg intake ratio is approaching an all time high that favors calcium 6:1 –a result of excessive increases in calcium intake, while magnesium intake has decreased or remained unchanged. Calcium is typically coming from a dietary excess of milk and other dairy products and high Ca supplementation

Magnesium (Mg) /Calcium (Ca) ratio changes with age

Intracellular Ca/Mg ratio increases with age - a study of 103 subjects of various ages,measured intracellular levels of magnesium and calcium in red blood cells drawn at 9 AM.

Barbagallo, M., Gupta, R.K., Dominguez, L.J., and Resnick, L.M. Cellular ionic alterations with age: Relation to hypertension and diabetes. J American Geriatrics Society, 2000, 48: 1111-1116.





<65 yrs




>65 yrs




Neither age, hypertension or diabetes had any effect on serum (liquid portion of blood, minus the red and white blood cells) concentrations of calcium and magnesium -Only about 1% of magnesium is extracellular, thus serum magnesium levels do not accurately reflect intracellular magnesium content. Furthermore, only 10-15% of intracellular magnesium is in the free, active form.

Gupta, R.K., Gupta, P., Yushok, W.D., Rose, Z.B. Measurement of the dissociation constant of magnesium ATP of 31P-NMR and optical absorbance spectroscopy.

Younger normal subjects had higher levels of intracellular magnesium, and lower levels of intracellular calcium (Figs. 1 and 2) than the normal older subjects

Fleckenstein (1983) found similar changes in tissue calcium and magnesium levels in the aortas of humans who died at various ages - Fleckenstein demonstrated the progressive accumulation of calcium in arterial tissue, resulting in a shift of the calcium/magnesium ratio in favor of calcium (Fig. 3).

Fleckenstein, A. Calcium Antagonism in Heart and Smooth Muscle, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1983.

Magnesium (Mg) /Calcium (Ca) ratio in various diseases

Recent studies present reasonable evidence that high calcium intake is increasing risk of prostate cancer - a 1998 Harvard School of Public Health study of 47,781 men foundthose consuming 1,500 - 2000 mg of calcium per day had about double the risk of being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer as those getting 500 mg per day or less.Those consuming > 2,000 mg had overfour times the riskof developing metastatic prostate cancer as those taking in less than 500 mg.

Studies clearly show that a high Ca to Mg ratio is involved in those with hypertension/atherosclerosis and Non-Insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus(NIDDM) - Subjects with hypertension or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) had significantly higher levels of intracellular calcium and lower levels of intracellular magnesium—even worse than the levels seen in older normal subjects (Figs. 4 and 5).

The long-term effect of greater calcium intake without correspondingly higher magnesium intake is:

–   Weaker bones (and teeth)

Mg - For Bones and Teeth

–   Abnormal calcification of tissues - resulting from the deposition of unabsorbed calcium in soft body tissues.

Mg - Prevents soft tissue calcification

–   Impaired nerve and muscle function

Mg - Against Neurological/Neuromuscular Conditions

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