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 Integrative Medicine: The Importance of Magnesium to Human Nutrition 
 

Symptoms or signs of the cardiovascular system include palpitations, heart arrhythmias, angina due to spasms of the coronary arteries, high blood pressure and mitral valve prolapse. Be aware that not all of the symptoms need to be present to presume magnesium deficiency; but, many of them often occur together. For example, people with mitral valve prolapse frequently have palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks and premenstrual symptoms. People with magnesium deficiency often seem to be "uptight." Other general symptoms include a salt craving, both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance, especially of chocolate, and breast tenderness.

Diagnosing Magnesium Deficiency
Aside from the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, how can a physician diagnose magnesium deficiency? Unfortunately, laboratory testing is of limited value. Since magnesium is found primarily in the cells, the serum magnesium may be normal in spite of a significant magnesium deficiency. The red blood cell magnesium is a little bit better. Probably the best test, although certainly not full proof, is the magnesium loading test. In this test, the patient collects a 24-hour urine sample and the total magnesium is measured. The patient is then given an injection of a specified amount of magnesium and another 24-hour urine specimen is collected. The magnesium is again measured. If the body retains more than a certain amount of magnesium, then it is concluded that the body is magnesium deficient and is holding on to the magnesium that has been injected. Perhaps the best method of diagnosing magnesium deficiency, however, is the combination of signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, which improve with a therapeutic trial of either oral or injected magnesium.

How can one get magnesium from foods? The best way of insuring enough magnesium is to eat a variety of whole foods, including whole grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables, preferably food grown on naturally composted soil. The green color of green vegetables is due to chlorophyll, which is a molecule that contains magnesium. Avoid refined processed foods, especially white sugar and white flour products, as most magnesium is removed from them.

Prevention and Treatment of Magnesium Deficiency Using Oral and Injectable Magnesium
For people who suffer from chronic magnesium deficiency and also to prevent the development of this condition, oral magnesium supplements can be quite useful. Magnesium is available in many forms. The cheapest is probably magnesium oxide, but this form is not absorbed as well as some other forms, which include chelated magnesium, magnesium glycinate and magnesium aspartate. Dr. Baker feels that the prescription form of magnesium chloride, known as Slow-mag, has been most useful for his patients. I have found that magnesium taurate, an unusual form of magnesium in which magnesium is chemically combined with the amino acid derivative taurine, is particularly well utilized and beneficial. This is because some of the same effects that one hopes to get from magnesium, such as the calming effect on the nervous system, and the strengthening effect on heart muscle, is also gotten with taurine. So, the two are synergistic together. I use it in all forms of cardiac and nervous system disorders.

What about dosage? The recommended daily allowance or RDA for magnesium is 350 milligrams of elemental magnesium. An important point here is that when reading the label of a supplement containing magnesium, it is important to distinguish between the number of milligrams per tablet or capsule of the entire magnesium complex versus the number of milligrams of elemental magnesium or pure magnesium. For example, one label of a chelated magnesium states that 4 tablets contain 4,000 mg of the chelated magnesium complex with 500 mg of elemental magnesium. The important number is the one that refers to the elemental magnesium. The other 3,500 mg in this case refers to the amino acid complex that is bound to the magnesium.

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 About The Author
Michael Schachter MD, FACAM Director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine, Michael B. Schachter, M.D., is a 1965 graduate of Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He is board certified in Psychiatry, a Certified Nutrition......more
 
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