Magnesium Super Metal

December 17, 2010

Magnesium: Super Metal 

Reference: Chiuve AJCN 2011,  Chiuve et al AJCN Jan 201

You thought it was kryptonite.  In the current world of superheroes and villains, it’s hard to find the real thing.  Well, this may be close to it.  Magnesium may be it. What does magnesium do?  Well, it stabilizes a lot of critical enzymes used in energy production.  And we simply don’t get enough.  Our diet has shifted from abundant fruits and vegetables to that of white bread and fried foods, neither of which has any.  

To measure it accurately you really have to look at Red Cell Magnesium, which is a bit more tricky to test.  So, it’s not tested for often.  Just about all of us are on the low side.  As a consequence, we can find bad things happening to good people when they don’t have enough. What Dr. Chiuve and company did was look at the Nurses Study with 88,375 women and compare their dietary exposure to green leafy vegetables, grains, nuts, milk to the risk of sudden death.  Sudden death basically occurs when your heart goes into a fatal rhythm without any warning.  You don’t even know it happened to you.  You simply pass out.  Without paramedics, your brain is mush in about 4 minutes.  

That irregular rhythm is a complication of many possible things, but low magnesium makes all of them worse.  You may be having a heart attack, or maybe just a passing irregular beat that then surges into ventricular tachycardia, and then fibrillation because your magnesium was too low.  

In the Nurses Study, Dr. Chiuve found that women who consumed the most magnesium in their diets had about a 37% lower rateof sudden death.  If they measured blood levels, they found a 41% decrease in sudden death for every .25 mg/dL change. Now, consider that magnesium is a wonderful treatment for those with too many migraines, that it plays a role in preventing excitotoxicity from glutamate in your brain, that it lowers blood pressure, ….helps congestive heart failure.  I can go on.  

But I have skin in the game.  I took care of a 32 year old women in the ER just a month ago with sudden death.  No warning.  She just dropped dead.  Now, she did have high blood pressure and did have kidney disease, and was on water pills so her chemistry was a bit precarious.  But she was by no means terminally ill.   And in the last month I have known two colleague physicians who simply died without warning.  Folks in their late 50s and early 60s.  It’s easy to pass that off as, “Just a massive Heart Attack”.  But that’s a misnomer.  That sudden death is a cardiac arrhythmia caused by many reasons, but one that is preventable is low magnesium. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  I personally take 800 mg of magnesium glycinate every day.  It lowers my blood pressure.  That’s my reason.  I drink lots of water and I don’t have kidney disease.  I saw my doctor and checked my level before I started.  And I make a point of eating green leafy vegetables as often as I can.  If you get 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you are half way to the 12-16 servings we are designed to eat.  If you aren’t eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and are in a mind to take a supplement here and there, magnesium should be on your list.

The column was written by Dr John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. 262-784-5300