July 29

Magnesium and inflammation


The lipid hypothesis of heart disease is rapidly being supplanted by the inflammatory hypothesis, which, for my money, is much more on the mark. The researchers who have spent their careers doing cholesterol research are not going down without a fight, however. Whereas most of the speakers at medical conferences always used to show graphs demonstrating that as cholesterol levels went up, so did the risk for heart disease. Now most speakers are showing graphs demonstrating that elevated cholesterol in combination with an elevated C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation) is a better gauge of heart disease risk. I predict that over the next few years, the cholesterol part of these graphs will slowly disappear.
As the inflammatory hypothesis becomes more accepted, more and more physicians will be checking C-reactive protein levels—along with a few other inflammatory yardsticks—to determine the inflammatory status of their patients. If the C-reactive protein level is found to be elevated, then steps can be taken, not just to reduce the C-reactive protein, but to treat the underlying inflammation so that the C-reactive protein—a marker of this underlying inflammation—will normalize.
One easy step in the inflammation reduction process is to make sure magnesium intake is high.
The most recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition contains an article showing that as consumption of magnesium fell, the levels of C-reactive protein went up.
The paper points out that the majority of adults in the US (68%) don’t consume even the RDA of magnesium, which is, as far as I’m concerned, woefully low. Magnesium is an unbelievably important mineral for all sorts of body processes. Some 300+ enzymes use magnesium as a cofactor; magnesium helps regulate potassium status; magnesium acts as nature’s own calcium channel blocker, helping blood pressure stay down and blood vessels stay pliable; magnesium builds bones; magnesium is anti-inflammatory. The list of magnesium’s virtues goes on and on.
In fact, there exists an entire school of thought that posits that the entire Metabolic Syndrome is nothing but a manifestation of a a magnesium deficiency. Which isn’t as crazy as it sounds since virtually all the components of the Metabolic Syndrome—diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and lipid disorders—are associated with low magnesium.
Why are so many people deficient in magnesium? Because there are no single foods that contain huge amounts of magnesium, and because there is no single food containing large amounts, there is no magnesium lobby. Look at calcium. Thanks to the dairy industry, we are constantly told that we need to get enough calcium, and we’re told right where we can get it. Milk and cheese. Same with vitamin C. The orange juice people never let us forget. Not so with magnesium, so no one really thinks of it.
Another reason that many people are magnesium deficient is that they drink bottled water or softened water. In the old days everyone drank well water or water from streams, both of which contain large amounts of magnesium. Magnesium is removed when water is softened and it isn’t in large amounts in most of the bottled waters that are available. Our favorite readily available bottled water is Apollinaris, which has a pretty good magnesium level.
Magnesium is just about our favorite supplement. In fact, if we just had one supplement to recommend, and no other, it would be magnesium. Take it at bedtime because it helps you sleep.

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  1. What form of magnesium is the best? And in what dosage?
    Thank you very much!
    Hi Dee–
    I use magnesium citrimate, and I take 300 mg per day at bedtime.  Any good chelated magnesium will do.  Just look for one with ‘ate’ on the end of it, as in magnesium aspartate or magnesium citrate.  And be careful in checking the doses because chelated magnesium isn’t all labeled the same.  Some list the actual magnesium on the label and will say that each pill contains, say, 150 mg of magnesium.  Others add the weight of the chelating agent (the substance that ends in ‘ate’) in with the magnesium, so you might find a brand where the label says each pill is 1000 mg.  This means the magnesium plus the chelating agent adds up to 1000 mg.  The best way is to look for the RDI on the back of the bottle.  Take enough pills to get the RDI each day, and take them at bedtime.
    Hope this helps.

  2. MRE wrote:
    What form of magnesium is the best? And in what dosage?
    Thank you very much!
    Hi Dee–
    I use magnesium citrimate, and I take 300 mg per day at bedtime.
    I think I’ve read that this form of magnesium is a combination of Citrate and Malate, good for people with Fibromyalgia. However, I cannot locate a source for it. Can you advise me? Thank you!
    Madeline Mason
    Hi Madeline–
    We use the product made by Thorne for our patients and for ourselves.  Thorne only sells to health care practitioners, but many products, including the magnesium, can be found online.  At some point we will add it to our online catalog, but haven’t yet.

  3. Hi Dr. Eades,
    Just going through some of the earlier posts, and I had a question about magnesium.
    When I take a supplement of magnesium (250 mg) at night, within a day or two, the veins in my hands and arms seem to bulge. As I’m diabetic, I worry about kindey problems. So far, my tests have come back okay – BUN is 18, Serum Creatine is 1.0, Serum Albumin 4.8, two urine tests showed no protein. Any thoughts?
    I don’t have a clue as to why your veins would bulge, but I have trouble linking it to magnesium.  The fact that you have no protein in your urine as a diabetic is a good sign that your kidney function is not impaired. 

  4. Hi Dr. Eades,
    First question:
    I take these two supplements at present:
    1) – Vitamin D3 (1000 I.U./day) as the growing body of evidence that taking vitamin D reduces cancer risk (Canadian Cancer Society)
    2) – Selenium (50mcg)-Beta-Carotene (5000 IU)-Vitamin C (60 mg)-Vitamin E (natural d-alpha tocopheryl acetate) (10 IU) for the same reasons.
    Maybe the optimal selenium dose to prevent cancer would be 200 mcg/day.
    I’m looking for the best supplement for me to prevent cancer, and I think the best thing would be to have an ALL-IN-ONE supplement.
    I’m trying to intermittent-fasting and I am a bit worried about having consequently some mineral/vitamin deficiencies.
    Any suggestions?
    Second question:
    I’ve always known a healthy water should have as less fixed residue as possible, but probably I’m wrong.
    What should I look out when buying a bottle of water?
    I’ve run across this site (http://www.3.waisays.com/), could you have a look?
    Thanks a lot.
    Marco D.
    Hi Marco–
    Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to your comment, but for some reason you got caught in my spam filter.
    I don’t think there is a problem taking vitamin and mineral supplements on the fasting days of an IF program if you’re concerned about deficiencies. These supplements contain few if any calories and shouldn’t influence the outcome of the IF.
    I look for a bottled water that has a high magnesium to calcium ratio. Apoliris is pretty good as is Gerolsteiner (if you like sparkling water as I do).

  5. Dr. Mike, I was taking magnesium and something I read spooked me off of it. I’m not sure but I seem to recall it was something in one of your blogs or your book but I can’t find it. I have heart disease, it was most likely to do with that. Any idea what it could be?
    I don’t know what it could be. I can’t think of a reason I wouldn’t want someone on magnesium supplements. Even if I don’t give my patients another thing, I always give them magnesium because almost everyone is deficient in it.

  6. Hello Dr. Mike;
    Do you have an opinion on Magnesium as magnesium taurate?
    It’s simply a chelated magnesium. Should be fine.

  7. Hi Dr. Mike,
    As a Pharmacist I have been an advocate of Magnesium for many years. I attribute recovery from environmental illness and sensitivities to vitamin and mineral supplementation (along with a more chemical free environment). I have to say Magnesium helped the most.
    I always recommend it be taken with food for better absorption, as it may cause diarrhea on an empty stomach.

  8. Ciao Mike.
    I have two questions about Magnesium:
    1) – I’ve read somewhere Magnesium and Vitamin D3 influence each other.
    Could you please explain (in your usual user-oriented language…) in which ways does it occur and if both supplements, taken together, may pose any risks for health?
    2) – Should people with LOW blood pressure avoid Magnesium supplement?
    Thanks a lot.
    Magnesium is more involved with vitamin D absorption than with magnesium. Magnesium taken with vitamin D shouldn’t be problematic.
    No, people with low blood pressure shouldn’t avoid magnesium supplements. I have low blood pressure and take a fair amount of magnesium.

  9. I have found that Magnesium has had a marked effect on my headaches which I used to get at least twice a month and now roughly every 5 to 6 weeks. I recently had some blood tests and they all came back normal including cholestrol which was previously creeping up to 7. My doctor was quite amazed at my results and I put it down to my intake of magnesium.
    If I had only one supplement that I could take, it would be magnesium. I’m glad to hear you’ve done so well.

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