Magnesium seems to be involved in several hundred enzyme pathways,
all essential for optimum health. Not surprisingly, therefore,
a lack of magnesium can lead to a great diversity of symptoms.
Many of magnesium’s important functions are connected with
the nervous system. Lack of magnesium causes a state of over
excitability, with twitching, tremors, anxiety, hyperactivity,
cramps, convulsions and insomnia. Because it counters such
symptoms, magnesium has been christened ‘Nature’s tranquillizer’.
Correction of some of these symptoms due to magnesium deficiency
may be vital to the allergic patient, who may mis-assign them
to am allergy.
Paradoxically, a lack of magnesium is a major factor in fatigue
(a depressed, rather than excited state). This is almost certainly
because magnesium is essential for phase I xenobiotic detoxification
pathways. Lack of it can lead to an increase in unwanted metabolites
such as chloral hydrate (‘Mickey Finn’, giving rise to a ‘spacey’
and tired feeling.
Another mechanism that could implicate magnesium in fatigue
is that it is vital for splitting adenosine triphosphate (the
body’s principal energy-carrier molecule) into adenosine diphosphate.
Without magnesium, this tissue energy is not bio-available.
A lack of magnesium can also lead to raised blood-pressure
and heart abnormalities. PMT seems to benefit greatly from
magnesium supplementation, probably because it is needed in
metabolizing essential fatty acids. So does musculoskeletal
pain; magnesium can be a great help to backache sufferers.
Despite its importance, there is no known test to substantiate
how much magnesium is that the average diet provides only about
40 per cent of even the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)!
Soils are depleted of magnesium due to acid rain; food processing
removes a great deal of magnesium and high phosphates in the
diet interfere with its absorption (colas and other fizzy drinks
are high in phosphates).
Those especially at risk are alcohol drinkers, individuals
with inflammatory gut disease, whether due to infection or
allergies, and joggers and health buffs, who sweat a great
deal. Overdoing it in the gym, without supplementing magnesium,
may not be so healthy.
Orthomolecular levels: 200 to 400 mg daily. Care may be needed
in supplementations as it can lead to diarrhoea and a worsening
in magnesium status, due to a loss of electrolytes from the
MAGNESIUM STATUS TEST
Dr Sherry Rogers of Syracuse, New York has devised a test to
check for magnesium status in individuals. The test presupposes
that the body retains magnesium if it needs it. Hence sharply
excreted magnesium indicates a plentiful supply within the
body. However, one cannot rely similarly on a low magnesium
excretion – that may mean deficiency or that the patient
is not absorbing it from the gut. Clinical judgement by the
physician is required.
Urine samples are taken over a 24-hour period, to measure
a baseline level of magnesium.
The individual is dosed with magnesium chloride tablets, 62
mg (two tablets) three times a day (372 mg daily).
After 48 hours a second urine sample is taken. The patient
can report subjective changes (i.e. feelings of any improvement)
at this time.
Percentages are found by dividing the baseline magnesium by
the second level. Results of over 50 per cent suggest the person
is absorbing magnesium poorly or that the magnesium is being
retained because the patient is deficient.
If the patient’s status warrants it, intravenous administration
of magnesium may be recommended by a physician. One gram is
administered in a 2-ml saline shot, given slowly into a vein
in the arm. We call this a magnesium “push”. A recent
article in the Lancet by leading clinical ecologists demonstrated
conclusively that magnesium injections were beneficial for
ME sufferers, confirming what clinical ecologists have been
saying for years.
By the way, clinical ecologists in the know like to give each
other magnesium IV for backache!