Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for August 24, 2006

Causes of Widespread Magnesium Deficiencies

Given the obvious importance of magnesium to optimal biological function, is there any reason to believe that cellular deficiencies may be widespread? The bodys magnesium status is a function of three main variables: dietary magnesium level, efficiency of intestinal magnesium absorption, and urinary and fecal magnesium losses.

Dietary Magnesium Levels

While the adult RDA for magnesium is about 300 – 400 mg per day, magnesium intake by Americans has been dropping throughout this century. Dietary surveys have shown the average daily intake for women to be 175 – 225 mg per day; for men 220 – 260 mg per day. In contrast, those Asian and vegetarian diets which are whole-food based and calorie-adequate typically provide 500 – 700 mg per day of magnesium.

Why is the American diet so low in magnesium? Magnesium is virtually never added back to our soils in synthetic fertilizers, despite the fact that crops continually lower soil magnesium. This is because magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule. It is never added back to our foods after processing as well. For example, 99% of the magnesium in sugar cane is lost when it is refined into white sugar, while 80 – 96% of the magnesium content of wheat is removed when it is refined into white flour. But magnesium is not added back into so-called enriched flour. Fats (e.g. butter, margarine, oils, shortenings) contain no magnesium, and meat and dairy products are generally poor sources of magnesium. When vegetables are cooked, 50% of their magnesium may be lost in the cooking water. Thus, the typical American diet is literally a prescription for magnesium deficiency!

Efficiency of Intestinal Absorption

Various factors serve to inhibit the intestinal absorption of the magnesium that is present in the diet. Phosphoric acid in soft drinks and phosphates used in baking powders and as preservatives combine with magnesium in the intestine to form magnesium phosphate, an insoluble compound which then precipitates out of the intestinal juices and is lost in the feces. Oxalates in foods such as rhubarb, spinach and chocolate also form insoluble magnesium compounds that cannot be absorbed. A high-fat diet (the average American diet is 40-45% fat calories) will tend to suppress magnesium absorption by forming insoluble soap-like magnesium compounds. Phytic acid, a phosphated form of inositol found in wheat bran, unleavened bread/cracker products, and many grains, seeds and legumes also prevents magnesium absorption. High levels of dietary or supplementary calcium may also suppress magnesium absorption due to competition for the same intestinal absorption sites. The typical American high-dairy diet contains 2.5 to 4 times as much calcium as magnesium! Many physicians ill-advisedly recommend that children (because of their growing bones) and adults (because of osteoporosis fears) take 500 to 2000 mg of calcium supplements daily! Excessive or prolonged diarrhea (e.g. due to intestinal parasites, laxative abuse or food allergies) may also cause significant intestinal magnesium loss.

Efficiency of Kidney Magnesium Recycling

The primary mechanism for preventing excessive loss of body magnesium stores is the kidneys ability to remove magnesium from urine before the urine is excreted, recycling the magnesium back into the body. In people with healthy kidneys, magnesium recycling efficiency may reach 95%,(5) yet a large number of factors can seriously impair this recycling effectiveness. Alcohol –even social drinking–may promote magnesium loss. In modern America, alcohol consumption is not uncommon, even among 10-12 year olds. So-called coffee nerves are often in part coffee-induced magnesium deficiency. A high animal protein diet can cause magnesium deficiency; some of the high sulfur ash from the protein will combine with magnesium and be excreted in the urine.

A high sugar (glucose/fructose/sucrose) diet is a powerful urinary magnesium spiller. High blood levels of the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol cause serious magnesium urinary losses. Human and animal studies have demonstrated that high stress-hormone levels produce urinary magnesium losses significant enough to seriously sensitize the organism to further stressors, which elicits further urinary magnesium losses, in a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, the number one drug used to treat ADD, Ritalin(r), is known to increase blood adrenaline levels. Excessive noise and heat stress promote urinary magnesium loss. Noise stress has been shown to be one of the most effective promoters of urinary magnesium loss. High sodium, high calcium diets (the norm in America) are powerful promoters of urinary magnesium loss. Intestinal candida yeast overgrowth provides constant acetaldehyde production, which in turn causes magnesium urinary loss. This is often caused by antibiotic abuse combined with a high sugar diet. What American child hasn’t suffered from this combination? Some antibiotics, including gentamicin, tricarcillin and carbenicillin, are efficient promoters of urinary magnesium loss.

This list should make it evident that many factors common to the American way of life conspire to promote potentially serious magnesium urinary losses.


August 24, 2006 - Posted by | Health |

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