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MAGNESIUM & Friends, In Concert

Posted on September 7, 2020 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (143)

The mainstream media has obsessed for quite some time, particularly in the 80's & 90's, about the singular importance of Calcium in bone & teeth maintenance & osteoprosis prevention. However, this mineral can't do its job in isolation, as it requires an orchestra of other minerals & vitamins, particularly Magnesium & Vitamin D, not to mention Vitamin C, Zinc, Boron, etc., all very helpful catalysts ! And, in the case of dairy products, some butterfat boosts absorption of Calcium, which makes skim products, hardly whole foods, less than ideal. As for the lately much-touted Vitamin D & its immune boosting abilities, this hormone-like nutrient is not plentiful in the food supply, and we'd normally rely on skin exposure to mid-day sunlight for much of it, except for seasonal challenges as well as skin cancer concerns, at times (perhaps) a bit exaggerated. This is where cod liver oil, seafoods, and supplements can fill our needs. In an evolutionary sense, albeit with more hair, we had much greater exposure, as hunter-gatherers, to sunlight, and could tolerate more substantial quantities of D relative to the rather low RDA given this nutrient (400 IU'S).

If muscle doesn't have enough Calcium, its fibers are less moveable & cannot contract, or, once it has contracted it won't relax properly, i.e., cramps. Muscles consist largely of protein & some essential fatty acids - those good fats which must come from the diet - and these "macro" nutrients must be adequate for tone & strength. The chemistry of muscles & the nerves controlling them is quite complex, and all minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc., get into the act of contraction, relaxation, & repair (including Potassium, plentiful in plant foods, Vitamin B-6, & Vitamin E).

Magnesium & Calcium are helpful to those troubled by anxiety (as would Niacinamide, or B-3), nervousness, & difficulty getting sound sleep, as these nourish & soothe the nervous system; warm milk at night owes more to Calcium than Tryptophan(!) Together with Potassium & Sodium, these four comprise the alkalizing, or "buffering" minerals, so crucial to 'neutralizing' an acidic diet, i.e., meat, grains, processed foods, sugars, without the greens/vegies & fruits. 98% of Cal is in the bones, but that 1-2% in muscles, nerve, and blood is vital!

Traditionally, Magnesium gained more notoriety for its laxative effects ('milk of magnesia') & as a component of epsom salts. But in recent decades we've come to appreciate its benefits to the heart (it acts similarly to "Calcium channel blocker drugs"); muscles, bones & teeth (it's the main "transport vehicle" for Calcium; deriving energy from foods; regulation of blood sugar levels & insulin sensitivity, etc., etc. Mag has so many different & therapeutic actions (hundreds!) in the body, at times it's difficult to determine the exact reasons for some of its clinical effects. It's also indispensable for helping to form ATP, the energy molecule our bodies & all life depends on!

Heart tissues are quite sensitive to drops in Mag, as it maintains normal rhythm in concert with Calcium, which stimulates the pumping, along with Potassium; likewise with skeletal muscle, Mag does the relaxation part, making it beneficial for cramping. (dehydration also contributes to cramping!) A Vitamin B-6 deficiency can lead to nerve problems, e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome, but in the absence of Mag, the B-vitamins lose their therapeutic potency. It is the ultimate catalyst, as B-6 (and the B-complex in general) is the major Vitamin catalyst.

So you see how these nutrients work together, as an orchestra, where virtuosos will have a place, but ultimately, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts...