Magnesium is a cofactor or “helper molecule” for more than 600 enzymes in your body. These worker chemicals are tasked with numerous important jobs ranging from energy generation to gene maintenance and repair. These jobs are not treated equally in the body: it is believed that they are prioritized according to importance from the lens of survival (more on this below).
A simple explanation of the theory: when magnesium (or any other micronutrient) becomes scarce, longer-term projects such as DNA repair take the back seat while survival-oriented processes get first dibs. This was first proposed by noted aging researcher Bruce Ames called the “triage” theory of aging. And unfortunately, the latest estimates suggest that about 50% of people in the US and Europe get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
Hopefully with the help of this infographic, you can keep your magnesium levels topped off so that you can not only survive, but thrive!
Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease.
Magnesium (Mg(2+)) is an essential ion to the human body, playing an instrumental role in supporting and sustaining health and life. As the second most abundant intracellular cation after potassium, it is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions including energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Although Mg(2+) availability has been proven to be disturbed during several clinical situations, serum Mg(2+) values are not generally determined in patients. This review aims to provide an overview of the function of Mg(2+) in human health and disease.
In short, Mg(2+) plays an important physiological role particularly in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscles. Moreover, Mg(2+) supplementation has been shown to be beneficial in treatment of, among others, preeclampsia, migraine, depression, coronary artery disease, and asthma. Over the last decade, several hereditary forms of hypomagnesemia have been deciphered, including mutations in transient receptor potential melastatin type 6 (TRPM6), claudin 16, and cyclin M2 (CNNM2). Recently, mutations in Mg(2+) transporter 1 (MagT1) were linked to T-cell deficiency underlining the important role of Mg(2+) in cell viability. Moreover, hypomagnesemia can be the consequence of the use of certain types of drugs, such as diuretics, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, calcineurin inhibitors, and proton pump inhibitors. This review provides an extensive and comprehensive overview of Mg(2+) research over the last few decades, focusing on the regulation of Mg(2+) homeostasis in the intestine, kidney, and bone and disturbances which may result in hypomagnesemia.
Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?
In comparison with calcium, magnesium is an “orphan nutrient” that has been studied considerably less heavily. Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer. Almost half (48%) of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from food in 2005-2006, and the figure was down from 56% in 2001-2002. Surveys conducted over 30 years indicate rising calcium-to-magnesium food-intake ratios among adults and the elderly in the United States, excluding intake from supplements, which favor calcium over magnesium.
The prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the United States increased sharply between 1994 and 2001 as the ratio of calcium-to-magnesium intake from food rose from <3.0 to >3.0. Dietary Reference Intakes determined by balance studies may be misleading if subjects have chronic latent magnesium deficiency but are assumed to be healthy. Cellular magnesium deficit, perhaps involving TRPM6/7 channels, elicits calcium-activated inflammatory cascades independent of injury or pathogens. Refining the magnesium requirements and understanding how low magnesium status and rising calcium-to-magnesium ratios influence the incidence of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and other inflammation-related disorders are research priorities.