Magnesium Factor

By Dr Harold Gunatillake Health Writer

Magnesium is essential to all cells of all known living organisms. Over 300 enzymes in our body require magnesium ions for catalytic action, including synthesising ATP (adenosine triphosphate, and synthesize DNA and RNA.

ATP exists in cells normally combined with a magnesium ion. Plants need magnesium to synthesize chlorophyll.

Magnesium forms a vital component of a healthy human diet. Even though some people lack enough magnesium in their bodies, the condition is more often invisible. Magnesium plays an important role in mitochondrial function ensuring your muscle cells have the highest oxidative capacity to produce ATP or energy as much as possible especially when you exercise or over work.

Mitochondrion is the individual cell's energy factory. It manufactures ATP to fuel all of life's activities.

A typical animal cell comprises 1000 to 2000 mitochondria. So the cell has a lot of structures capable of producing a high amount of available energy. This ATP production by the mitochondria happens via respiration which takes oxygen to the body and generates energy. This is a very efficient process for using food energy to make ATP. One of the benefits of "aerobic exercise" is that it improves your body's ability to make ATP rapidly via your increased respiration.

The recommended daily level of magnesium is 400mg per day for a healthy adult. Mostly, elderly people lack more magnesium than healthy young adults. 99% of magnesium in the body is stored in its bones, muscles and soft tissues. The other 1% of magnesium is found in plasma and red blood cells in the body.

Low magnesium levels may cause diseases. Those who do not consume sufficient green vegetables containing chlorophyll and those who consume less micronutrient such as processed foods, sugars, sodas and even meat may lack magnesium in their bodies.

Meat, milk, sodas, sugars and white flour contains hardly or virtually no magnesium.

The pH of the intestinal lumen can restrict diffusing magnesium across the large and small intestinal wall. In general, when your intestines are more alkaline your ability to absorb minerals in general and magnesium in particular will be poorer. Most mineral salts, including magnesium require very low pH to be solubilized and then absorbed.

Despite the fact that oat bran and brown rice are both very high in magnesium, they are, in fact, a poor choice. The reason for this also has to do with absorption. The magnesium in oat bran and many legumes is misleading in that the bioavailability is reduced as a consequence of these minerals being complex (bound) to phytates.

Humans are unable to digest phytate. It impairs the absorption of minerals (mostly zinc) but also magnesium to a lesser extent. In addition, high-dose supplementation with other minerals can result in competition for mineral digestive enzymes. It can also impair mineral absorption. For example, relatively high doses of zinc (142 mg/day) have been shown to inhibit magnesium absorption.

Your kidneys play a major role in magnesium homeostasis by filtering magnesium and then allowing 95% of this to be reabsorbed, but allowing the remaining 5% (approximately) to be subsequently excreted. Your kidney is able to conserve magnesium and prevent deficiency by reducing its excretion. On the other hand, it allows magnesium to excrete in larger amounts in cases of excessive intake because after filtering, re-absorption may not happen in ordinary proportions.

There are a few factors that can significantly affect the subsequent re-absorption after the kidney filtration:
Alcohol-this DOUBLES the excretion rate of magnesium in both acute (one time) and chronic (frequent) alcohol consumption cases.
Diabetes Mellitus-both type 1 and type 2 diabetics have an increased rate of magnesium excretion as a consequence of general kidney dysfunction.
Gastrointestinal problems- Chrohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, etc. increase the secretion of magnesium into feces.

Excessive sweating from exercise or sauna can also result in magnesium loss but to a much lesser extent than any of the aforementioned reasons.

Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasms and cramps, seizures, anxiety and irregular heart rhythms, difficulty swallowing, involuntary eye movements and vertigo. Deficiency of magnesium can be detected through a blood sample. If you are deficient in magnesium you may take non-enteric coated supplements.

Higher doses can be used as a laxative. Side effects of magnesium supplements can cause nausea, cramps and diarrhoea Magnesium supplements may not be safe for people who take diuretics, heart medicines, or antibiotics.

Check with your healthcare provider if you are taking any medicine before taking magnesium. People with diabetes, intestinal, heart or kidney diseases should not take magnesium before consulting a healthcare provider.

Magnesium is lost when you cook vegetables. Eating raw spinach or adding raw vegetables including spinach to salads is good ways to keep enough magnesium level in the body.

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