Magnesium - Making Sure All that Calcium Goes to the Right Place
Another supplement recommended by my Sutter Health cardiologist was Magnesium. I remembered being giving Milk of Magnesia as a kid for constipation, and already knew that Epsom salts baths were relaxing, but I really didn't know how it would help with heart health. So - I decided to do some digging.
Magnesium is most often recommended for bone health, but is also key for 300 different metabolic processes across the body. Of prime importance to heart disease patients is that it is necessary for the assimulation of calcium into bone material. If too much calcium is present in the blood stream, it can contribute to coronary artery disease as it can be deposited onto the artery walls. A proper magnesium/calcium balance is also needed for a strong, regular heart beat. In fact, taking calcium supplements without magnesium supplements has been shown to increase heart attack risk.
Bad news for most Americans - the average American diet only provides 40% of the needed magnesium (according to the Nutritional Magnesium Association). This is most likely due to the lack of fruits and vegetables in this diet, as well as to modern farming methods which deplete our soils of minerals. Also according to the Nutritional Magnesium Association, up to 80% of the US population has magnesium deficiency.
What are some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency? Early symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue and weakness. As this deficiency progresses, there are up to 22 different conditions that can occur. These include coronary spasms, anxiety or panic attacks, blood clots, depression(as magnesium is a precursor to serotonin production), fibromyalgia, tooth decay, weak bones, diabetes and heart attacks. It is also really hard to test for magnesium levels, so this is not usually identified by the standard yearly physical.
The good news is that it is easy to supplement with magnesium. One natural doctor I visited advised me to bathe in Epsom salts as magnesium can be absorbed through my skin. Magnesium can also be found in good quality dark chocolate (no Hershey's doesn't count, it needs to be at least 70% cocoa), avocados, nuts like cashews and almonds, beans and seeds, tofu, and whole grains.
The safest way to make sure you are getting enough magnesium is to supplement. Be careful - too much supplementation may lead to diarrhea which is no fun!
Here is a great supplement that I recommend that is chelated for good absorption and is a low enough dose that it doesn't cause any gastric distress. I was taking these, but found that my Isagenix Isaflush (part of the 30 day weight loss program) also contains magnesium so didn't want to double dose.