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Magnesium - "The Missing Mineral"

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

Magnesium regulates calcium

Adequate magnesium is essential for calcium absorption and metabolism

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

Neither magnesium or calcium can act without eliciting a reaction from the other.   Biochemically, magnesium and Ca have complementary and antagonistic roles to each other:

-   Magnesium has a pivotal role in energy production and many cellular metabolic processes

-   Calciumis more concerned with structure strength (in bones and teeth) and movement (neuromuscular).

Magnesium “wears numerous hats” inside the cell:

-   Cofactor with ATP providing 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. Magnesium is the second-most abundant positive ion (cation) inside the cell, but most is bound to molecules that regulate energy production, storage and utilization. Magnesium is required in the mitochondrial respiration cycle (during oxidative phosphorylation and anaerobic metabolism of glucose);

Magnesium (Mg) /Calcium (Ca) Interplay

Magnesium keepscalcium dissolved in bloodstream, heart, brain, kidneys/urine, and in all the tissues in your body.    Try crushing a calcium pill in 1oz water and watch how slowly adding a crushed magnesium pill enables the calcium to dissolve.

•    Prevents kidney stone formation.   Magnesium increases calcium solubility in urine and Mg supplementation has demonstrated a significant reduction in recurrence of kidney stones.

•    An insufficiency of magnesium to keepcalcium dissolved can result in muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, hardening of the arteries and more.

Magnesium 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

Activity of many enzymes depend on a sufficient amount of intracellular magnesium.    Detrimentally affected by even small increases in levels of intracellular calcium.

Growth of cells, cell division, and parts of metabolism depend on magnesium availability.   This 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 magnesium uptake and utilization;

Magnesium maintains proper blood calcium levels

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

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 calcium to magnesium ratio becomes too high, usually because of a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is needed to maintain the cell "battery" providing the power for calcium pumps (Ca2+-ATPases) to pump calcium out of cells.   Most of the enzymes (E.g. ATPase) involved in mitochondrial ATP production require magnesium. Up to 30% of cellular energy is used to pump calcium out of the cells;

Magnesium powers the cell "battery"

Magnesium prevents soft tissue calcification.   Insufficient magnesium to ensure smooth running of the calcium pumps can result in calcification of soft tissues responsible for a slew of familiar health problems.

Magnesium prevents soft tissue calcification

Magnesium protects against high calcium intake linked to higher risk of prostate cancer.   A 1998 Harvard School of Public Health study of 47,781 men found those 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 over four times the risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer as those taking in less than 500 mg.

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 magnesium intake should be at least on par with calcium to facilitate assimilation of calcium.

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 Calcium:Magnesium 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 calcium supplementation

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

Intracellular Ca/magnesium ratio increases with age.    Found 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. (2000) Cellular ionic alterations with age: Relation to hypertension and diabetes. J American Geriatrics Society. 48: 1111-1116. PubMed




Non INSULIN dependent diabetes mellitus

<65 yrs




>65 yrs




age vs. intracellular magnesium and calcium levels

 High calcium to magnesium ratio is clearly involved in hypertension/atherosclerosis and Non-Insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) - subjects with hypertension or NIDDM had significantly higher levels of intracellular calcium and lower levels of intracellular magnesium—even worse than the levels seen in older normal subjects (see Figs. 4 and 5).

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 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.

age vs. aortatissue levels of calcium and magnesium

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