magnesium, arrhythmia, blood level, tissue level

Magnesium: The Other Major Mineral

Magnesium: The Other Major Mineral

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

I was asked recently what I would recommend for someone who is having an irregular heartbeat. “Magnesium deficiencies are the leading cause of abnormal heart rhythms,” I replied.

“She knows that she doesn’t have a magnesium deficiency,” the inquirer quickly responded, “she’s had a blood test.”

The body’s need for dietary or supplemental calcium is widely acknowledged and accepted. A very high percentage of individuals who come to me for a consultation have been supplementing calcium, despite having perfectly normal levels of calcium in their bloodstream. People seem to be aware of the fact that 99 % of the body’s calcium is found in the bones and teeth. Osteoporosis can and does occur with perfectly normal levels of calcium in the blood.

The body’s need for magnesium is nearly as great as its need for calcium, yet I rarely find a person who is supplementing magnesium, unless it happens to be incorporated in the calcium supplement they are taking. Most physicians assume that a normal amount of magnesium in the blood means that adequate stores of the mineral are present throughout the body. This is simply not correct.

Sixty percent of the body’s total magnesium is found in the bone, another twenty-five percent in the muscle, and the remainder in other soft tissues and fluids such as the digestive juices of the stomach. As in the case of calcium, only 1 or 2 percent of the total body magnesium is present in the bloodstream. Therefore, blood magnesium is a very poor indicator of how much magnesium is actually in the body.

Since magnesium concentrates in heart muscle at a level nearly twenty times higher than that found in the blood, it is not surprising that magnesium related heartbeat irregularities appear long before any deficiency is evident in the bloodstream. This also explains why areas that have a high level of magnesium in the water supply report a lower incidence of heart disease.

Magnesium plays other critical roles in the body. It regulates the absorption of calcium and it is involved in maintaining the integrity of bones and teeth. When magnesium is deficient bones may become dense, but they also become more brittle and more prone to fracture. Finland and the Netherlands, where the intake of calcium is four times that of magnesium, have the world’s highest incidence of osteoporosis.

Magnesium relaxes smooth muscle, which is found in the bronchial tubes of the lungs, arteries, uterus and bladder. It is therefore helpful in preventing asthma attacks, high blood pressure, menstrual cramping, and urinary frequency from an irritable bladder. It is also useful in the management of angina (heart pain), heart attacks, and strokes.

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