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This of­ten over­looked min­eral is gain­ing new pop­u­lar­ity as sci­en­tists dis­cover its im­por­tance to over­all health BY VERA TWEED

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Mag­ne­sium: Su­per­star Ris­ing This oft ne­glected min­eral is gain­ing new pop­u­lar­ity as we dis­cover more about the key roles it plays in well­ness.

Mag­ne­sium is emerg­ing as a su­per­star min­eral, but for decades it’s been so un­der­rated that one study called it an “or­phan nu­tri­ent.” In the U. S. Na­tional Li­brary of Medicine’s on­line data­base at pubmed. gov, there are more than fi ve times as many sci­en­tifi c ar­ti­cles about cal­cium as there are about mag­ne­sium, yet both are equally es­sen­tial for the func­tion of the hu­man body.

The Cal­cium- Mag­ne­sium Part­ner­ship

These two min­er­als are some­what like the op­po­site ends of a dim­mer switch. Cal­cium gives bones their hard­ness and makes things hap­pen by ex­cit­ing nerves, con­tract­ing mus­cles, and con­tribut­ing to the infl am­ma­tion nec­es­sary to fi ght in­vaders or in­jury. Mag­ne­sium gives bones some fl ex­i­bil­ity, keeps them from be­com­ing brit­tle, and has a “chill­ing out” eff ect, re­lax­ing nerves and mus­cles and re­duc­ing infl am­ma­tion. Cal­cium is nec­es­sary for blood to clot so that wounds can heal, while mag­ne­sium pre­vents harm­ful clots and keeps blood fl ow­ing.

When we ex­pe­ri­ence a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion, whether it’s an ir­ri­ta­ble boss, a traffi c jam, or a work­out at the gym, cal­cium con­trib­utes to the fi ght- or- fl ight re­sponse that kicks in, and if there isn’t enough mag­ne­sium to calm things down, we stay stressed. And with­out enough mag­ne­sium, high cal­cium lev­els can lead to stiff ar­ter­ies and heart disease.

More Rea­sons Why Mag­ne­sium is Es­sen­tial

A nat­u­ral com­po­nent of ev­ery cell in the hu­man body, mag­ne­sium is es­sen­tial for more than 300 in­ter­nal pro­cesses that go on all the time to sus­tain life, in­clud­ing en­ergy pro­duc­tion. A study of post- menopausal women tested per­for­mance on a sta­tion­ary bike, be­fore and after eat­ing a low- mag­ne­sium diet, and found that lack of the min­eral made a sig­nifi cant diff er­ence. With low mag­ne­sium, women used 10– 15 per­cent more en­ergy and their heart rate in­creased by 10 beats per minute while do­ing the same amount of cy­cling. Mag­ne­sium can also im­prove sleep. In stud­ies, other benefi ts of mag­ne­sium have in­cluded:

Less risk of asthma Pro­tec­tion against type 2 di­a­betes Less de­pres­sion Re­lief from symp­toms of fi bromyal­gia Pro­tec­tion against hear­ing loss from very loud noise Lower blood pressure Fewer and shorter mi­graine headaches Lower odds of ir­reg­u­lar heart rhythm Re­lief from pre­men­strual syn­drome Less risk for os­teo­poro­sis

To­day’s Cal­cium- Mag­ne­sium Im­bal­ance

While lack of ei­ther min­eral is bad for health, mag­ne­sium is the one likely to fall short be­cause:

Cal­cium is widely ad­ver­tised as an es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent. Cal­cium sup­ple­ments are rec­om­mended by doc­tors. Cal­cium is added to many foods and drinks.

In com­par­i­son, mag­ne­sium doesn’t have a voice. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a TV com­mer­cial tout­ing a food be­cause it con­tains lots of mag­ne­sium? The op­ti­mum ra­tio of cal­cium to mag­ne­sium is es­ti­mated to be 2: 1 from all sources, in­clud­ing food and sup­ple­ments, but in the av­er­age U. S. diet, it’s es­ti­mated to be 3: 1, mean­ing too much cal­cium and too lit­tle mag­ne­sium. Good sources of mag­ne­sium in­clude leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, and

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