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