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Magnesium Metabolism Affecting Human Health and Disease

By A collection of dietary magnesium topics.

Dis Mon. 1988 Apr;34(4):161-218. By Elin RJ.,Clinical Pathology Department, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Magnesium is an important element for health and disease. Magnesium, the second most abundant intracellular cation, has been identified as a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions involving energy metabolism and protein and nucleic acid synthesis. Approximately half of the total magnesium in the body is present in soft tissue, and the other half in bone. Less than 1% of the total body magnesium is present in blood. Nonetheless, the majority of our experimental information comes from determination of magnesium in serum and red blood cells. At present, we have little information about equilibrium among and state of magnesium within body pools.

Magnesium is absorbed uniformly from the small intestine and the serum concentration controlled by excretion from the kidney. The clinical laboratory evaluation of magnesium status is primarily limited to the serum magnesium concentration, 24-hour urinary excretion, and percent retention following parenteral magnesium. However, results for these tests do not necessarily correlate with intracellular magnesium. Thus, there is no readily available test to determine intracellular/total body magnesium status. Magnesium deficiency may cause weakness, tremors, seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, hypokalemia, and hypocalcemia. The causes of hypomagnesemia are reduced intake (poor nutrition or IV fluids without magnesium), reduced absorption (chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, or bypass/resection of bowel), redistribution (exchange transfusion or acute pancreatitis), and increased excretion (medication, alcoholism, diabetes mellitus, renal tubular disorders, hypercalcemia, hyperthyroidism, aldosteronism, stress, or excessive lactation).

A large segment of the U.S. population may have an inadequate intake of magnesium and may have a chronic latent magnesium deficiency that has been linked to atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, hypertension, cancer, kidney stones, premenstrual syndrome, and psychiatric disorders. Hypermagnesemia is primarily seen in acute and chronic renal failure, and is treated effectively by dialysis.

Magnesium, Inflammation, and Obesity in Chronic Disease

Magnesium deficiency, exacerbating chronic inflammatory stress, may contribute significantly to the occurrence of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.

Magnesium and Aging

Magnesium deficiency reduces the antioxidant capacity of the aging organism and its resistance to free-radical damage. Magnesium deficits may be proposed as one of the physiopathological links that may help to explain the interactions between inflammation, oxidative stress with the aging process and many age-related diseases.

Magnesium concentrations were significantly associated with muscle performance.

The consumption of alkaline drinking water has been shown to affect significant increases in both the blood and urine pH, 6.23 to 7.07 and 7.52 to 7.69, respectively, while showing a decrease in urine output from 2.51 to 2.05 liters per day.

List of High Magnesium Foods

Source: National Institutes of Health

View a more detailed list: Top ten foods high in magnesium


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of mineralized foods and water by Dr. Apsley.

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Updated: Dec 21 2013