I love the idea of quantifying different levels of minerals, vitamins, hormones, lipid profiles, being able to measure what you’re doing at base line and make dietary changes, and then measure these lab markers again. This is the definition of preventative medicine.

Preventative medicine focuses on the bigger picture, and is something that you can actually do on your own.

I think preventative medicine, preventing micronutrient deficiencies, things like magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin D, these essential minerals and vitamins that we need for a variety of different biochemical pathways in our body. These deficiencies cause insidious damage over time that may rear its head as degenerative disease later, like cancer and diabetes.

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of reactions in the body, everything from your hormones to your heart beat to your humerus. It’s the 2nd most abundant cation in the cells. Magnesium is involved in ATP formation, the transmission of nerve impulses, heart and blood vessel function, temperature, detoxification reactions, muscles and healthy bones, and insulin sensitivity.

ATP must be bound to a magnesium molecule to be biologically active. Glutathione requires magnesium for its synthesis and therefore is important for helping to prevent damage from chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins – like Mercury. Magnesium drives over 300 enzyme and physiologic reactions. It is involved in DNA and RNA synthesis – your genes! Magnesium profoundly affects high blood pressure, yet you never hear of many health care practitioners suggesting to increase magnesium in conjunction with treatment. A meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that inadequate magnesium is strongly correlated to ischemic vascular disease. Different cell types contain different concentrations of magnesium. This is closely related to mitochondrial density of a tissue, such as heart muscle and the brain. Magnesium is essential for single celled organisms such as bacteria. The role of magnesium is underestimated and more attention needs to be placed on the role of magnesium and human health.

I am often asked why do I need to take a magnesium supplement? Can’t I just get it from food?

Ideally, you can get sufficient amounts of magnesium and other minerals from food, but research strongly shows that most of us do not eat foods containing enough magnesium. This is true in the United States and countries in Europe and Australia. Despite not hearing much about magnesium, the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimated that at least half of the U.S. population had inadequate intakes of magnesium.

Other food sources which should contain magnesium are nuts, seeds and legumes; however, phytic acid, oxalic acid as well as enzyme inhibitors in these foods may interfere with the absorption of magnesium, unless specific cooking techniques and preparation are used when preparing foods such as soaking, fermenting or sprouting.

Finally, techniques used to refine grains found in the breads and pasta from your local supermarket remove up to 97% of magnesium, thus refined foods common in today’s diet are deficient in magnesium. People who consume sugar as well as sodas and soft drinks may be deficient in magnesium partly because sugar “uses up” magnesium. For every single molecule of sugar consumed, your body requires over 54 times that amount of magnesium to metabolize the sugar.

Next time, more about getting magnesium in your diet and what a magnesium inadequacy might look like

To your health

Doc Edwards