Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magnesium Deficiencies, High Blood Pressure & More

Stress and hypertension are related, right? Most physicians would agree. Sodium is usually seen as the bad guy. Dr. David Brownstein, a leading integrative physician, thinks sodium gets a bad rap, and that low-sodium diets are not helpful for hypertension. You see, magnesium deficiencies cause intracellular sodium and potassium levels to rise, which interferes with blood pressure regulation, so the magnesium deficiency appears to be the problem rather than the sodium intake.

Dr. Brownstein talks quite frankly about addressing high blood pressure with magnesium and other nutrients in his blog:

"Natural therapies such as magnesium, unrefined sea salt, B-vitamins, vitamin C and cleaning up the diet of refined foods should be the initial treatment regimen in a patient with elevated blood pressure.  Finally, drink enough water.  In my experience, dehydration is the number one cause of elevated blood pressure."

What most people don't know is that stress can triple (yes, triple) your need for not only vitamin C but also magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels relax muscles, including the heart muscle but you need more than you may think, even when you're not under particular stress. According to Dr. Rodier, "adequate" magnesium levels should be 1:1 ratio with calcium (in contrast with the conventional ratio of 3:1 favoring calcium).

Here are a few other important things to remember about magnesium deficiencies:
  1. Alcohol impairs the ability of the kidney to conserve magnesium. 
  2. Diabetes increases the risk for magnesium deficiency, and magnesium deficiency negatively affects insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetes.
  3. Migraines are associated with low levels of magnesium, which may contribute to cerebral arterial constriction.
  4. Heart arrhythmias are associated with low magnesium levels. 
  5. Intestinal problems reduce the body's ability to absorb magnesium.
  6. Restless leg syndrome may be related to magnesium imbalances.
  7. Adequate vitamin D is required for magnesium absorption (and most people are deficient in vitamin D).
  8. Boron appears to increase serum levels of magnesium. 
  9. Calcium can inhibit magnesium absorption from foods, so some recommend taking calcium supplements at bedtime and magnesium supplements with meals to optimize magnesium uptake.
Now for the other news about magnesium: when your body gets enough to , magnesium can act as a laxative. That's a great thing for folks who get constipated (you can achieve the same effect with vitamin C).

Magnesium is considered non-toxic at levels most people take in the form of supplements; and, just like hitting bowel tolerance with vitamin C, to return to normal, you just back down to the level of magnesium you were taking before getting loose stools.

Magnesium is a marvelous little mineral, one of my favorites. Are you getting enough magnesium? Drop a line if you have a magnesium story to share.

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