Magnesium: A Must-Have Supplement for Your Heart and Bones

February 24, 2010

IMG_7718This mineral also supports detox and cleansing big time.

An essential mineral involved in over 350 of the body’s critical functions, magnesium doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For starters, it helps coordinate the activity of the heart muscles and nerves that initiate heartbeat.

Magnesium appears to reduce high blood pressure, cutting the risk of heart attack and stroke. Because this mineral also lessens the risk of heart arrhythmia, it limits the complications of congestive heart failure.

Unfortunately, new research finds that women are getting less than 70% of the magnesium they need. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, low levels of this mineral are a risk factor for osteoporosis, a common problem that accounts for 2 million fractures each year in this country for a cost of over $17 billion. Magnesium is needed to convert vitamin D to its active form so that calcium can be absorbed by the bones.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

I am really concerned that the Journal of the American College of Nutrition finds women so low in magnesium.

With the food industry pumping supplemental calcium into every possible food and beverage, many of us surely have excess calcium—way out of balance with magnesium and other important minerals. In a calcium-magnesium imbalance, calcium doesn’t get deposited in the bones as it should.

Instead, unused calcium gets dumped in the arteries, helping to “harden” them and leading to atherosclerosis. To combat this, many heart doctors prescribe calcium-channel blockers (like Procardia) to keep calcium from being absorbed in the heart muscle.

It makes much more sense to offer magnesium, a natural calcium channel blocker that dilates arteries—at least when it’s available in sufficient amounts and in balance with calcium.

Added Benefits
Magnesium also helps prevent formation of those painful kidney stones (calcium oxalate crystals). It even helps the liver do its all-important job of detoxification by acting as an escort to toxins—including estrogens—as they leave the body.

As Fat Flushers have discovered, magnesium is helpful with constipation as well as those occasional headaches that can come with caffeine withdrawal. That’s one reason both Classic Fat Flush and Fat Flush for Life feature sea vegetables (like kelp and dulse) and nuts (like almonds and cashews), rich in this important mineral.

How Much Magnesium?
Nutrient depletion of soils and over-processing of foods robs today’s diet of much of its magnesium content. If you’re feeling edgy, have muscle cramps, suffer insomnia, crave chocolate, or notice increased urination, adjust your calcium-magnesium ratio, so that you’re taking at least as much magnesium or—ideally—twice as much magnesium as calcium.

I recommend 1 to 3 capsules of Magnesium 400 mg throughout the day, preferably more at bedtime—and not with calcium. Once you feel a better calcium-magnesium ratio has been achieved (or if you experience diarrhea), reduce your magnesium intake. (Note: anyone with kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements.)

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

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  1. Lucy

    Do you recommend a specific magmesium prep. i.e. magnesium citrate or some other?

  2. Judy

    Is the magnesium in Epsom Salt the same one you are talking about? Because I have been adding Epsom Salt to my bath everyday for a couple of weeks to help with joint pain. So I don’t want to over do the Magnesium. I think it is called Magnesium Sulfate in Epsom Salt. Is that the same?

  3. Jay

    Is there anything besides calcium that I should not take with magnesium?

  4. Lori

    You mention that the magnesium may cause diarrhea. I started magnesium about the same time I started the Liver Lovin Formula. I take 1 400 magnesium and 2 of the Liver Lovin Formula at breakfast and the same at supper. The diarrhea started and kept getting worse each day. I assumed it was the Liver Lovin Formula and totally quit it for a couple of days. I have now cut it to one in the morning and one at night and now, on the 3rd day it is coming back. Do you think it is actually the magnesium instead of the Liver Lovin Formula?

  5. Jodye  Johnson

    So, if I divide up the calcium, because you should not take over, say, 600mg at a time, when do I take the magnesium, if I shouldn’t take it with calcium. That seems hard, if I need 3 400’s a day of magnesium.

  6. Brenda Dawson

    My husband and I take a calcium powder drink every night before we go to bed, I make it for him to help with muscle cramps and for my self to stop esophageal spasms. It helps prevent both. We have to adjust the amount occasionally due to how much magnesium we are getting in our food. We can tell this by if we are suffering from constipation or the opposite. I really like the powder drink it taste like lemon-aid and is all natural made with Stevia. We do both have low blood pressure which is important due to my husband irregular heart beat. Thanks for your great articles!

  7. Cathy Owens

    Thanks, Ann, for this article. Is it okay to take Magnesium and Vit D together? I take 3,000 Vit D3 daily since I now live in Seattle.

  8. Amy

    Magnesium also helps with anxiety and panick attacks.

  9. Administrator

    Thanks for your comments. Many people find great relaxation and relief of aching muscles with an Epsom Salts bath (magnesium sulfate). Magnesium- whether citrate, aspartate, or oxide has been found to be helpful for so many, especially when stress of any kind is involved. The oxide tends to work best as a laxative.

  10. Administrator

    Lori: Sounds like too much magnesium to me. Cut back and see if that helps to figure out your best bowel tolerance.

  11. Administrator

    Jay: Magnesium is pretty much synergistic with every other vitamin and mineral.

  12. Administrator

    Jodye: I take magnesium before bed and upon arising in the morning. Figure out which exact dose works for you. The calcium to magnesium ratio is not an exact science but more of an art – so to speak.

  13. Dr. Ann Louise

    Cathy: Yes to your question.
    Amy: Yes – you are so right —magnesium is marvelous for anixiety, irritability, getting rid of excess copper, helping the body absorb calcium, and acting like a natural anti-depressant. It has been overshadowed for years by calcium – but no more! Check out my Female Multiple which contains a 2:1 ratio of magnesium to calcium. Years ago I heard the magnesium expert Dr. Mildred Selig speak and was blown away by all the research that supports more – not less – magnesium in people’s diets. I think magnesium will someday have Vitamin D notoriety 🙂

  14. Cali

    I was told not to take magnesium oxide and only magnesium citrate. I find it helps with constipation caused by medication I take.

  15. Karen

    The comments on this subject have been very informative and helpful.

    I have read that magnesium and calcium should be taken at separate times before. (Perhaps in The Miracle of Magnesium? It is an absolutely great book.) But I don’t remember anyone saying how much time should elapse between taking magnesium and calcium.

    If anyone knows which of the two supplements is affected by taking them at the same time I would really love to know. Is fifteen minutes enough or longer?

  16. Cynthia

    I had been having constipation due to meds prescribed by my internist. (Necessary medications) I had some Magnesium oxide 400 mg and Zinc (as zinc gluconate, 15 mg) It was just what I had on hand and I had been suffering badly from constipation so I took it along with some Potassium Gluconate (99 mg) Actually one of each in the evening with plenty of water. It worked !!! But, I’m not sure if these are correct. What is your recommendation to help with constipation on a daily basis?

    • Team ALG

      400-800 mg of magnesium oxide/magnesium asparate at night before bed should do the trick. You might also consider a naturally detoxifying fiber supplement like Super GI Cleanse, available through Uni Key Health.



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