Does it surprise you to read that nutritional medicine experts have long warned that “people who supplement with calcium should also take adequate amounts of magnesium?”
In fact, “assuming that excess calcium intake without regards to magnesium intake may increase heart attack and stroke risk,” warns Life Extension.
Our health depends on the right balance of calcium and magnesium!
Magnesium: The Long-Underestimated Mineral
Magnesium is a mineral that is found in every cell of the body. It is necessary for enzyme activity (playing a role in countless critical biochemical reactions), energy production, digestion, protein synthesis, detoxification, calcium absorption and more essential functions.
One of the mineral’s main jobs is to keep calcium outside the cell membrane and thereby help the cell to handle stress. Without enough magnesium, calcium gets inside the cell and causes reactions that make the cell “active” and unable to fully rest (a stressed state). The best example is found in muscle cells, because they contract when they become active. (Calcium contracts our muscles; magnesium relaxes them). With the muscle-relaxing effects of magnesium missing, there is no balance. Additional magnesium is needed to balance this muscle activity, or we may suffer with muscle spasms or cramps, or even heart issues.
Magnesium works as a natural calcium channel blocker, which means that it keeps calcium from entering the cells of the heart and blood vessel walls. It is also vital for bone health, as the supplement is necessary for calcium to be absorbed in the body and to be built up in our bones. It makes bone less brittle.
After reading about many of the critical roles magnesium plays in the body, you’d think it would be a big priority for us to make sure we have enough. The bad news is that deficiency is common in the United States. Dr. Mercola estimates that up to 80 percent of Americans may be deficient in this important mineral. So, only about one-fifth of us may be getting the recommended daily value!
When we don’t have enough magnesium in our bodies, calcium levels in our cells rise, while the pace at which cholesterol and fats build up on our artery walls excels. This is due to the fact that calcium is a component of plaque. When plaque builds up in these tissues, it calcifies, or hardens, which then hampers blood flow.
Symptoms you may experience if you have low magnesium levels include:
- Muscle Tension
- Muscle Spasms
- Brittle Bones
- Abnormal Heart Rhythms
- Low Energy
- Muscle Cramps
The National Institutes of Health report that the individuals most at risk are those with gastrointestinal issues, diabetes or alcohol dependence, and older adults.
By now, the majority of us know how to get calcium in our diets, but magnesium can be another story.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are excellent sources of magnesium. Very good sources include pumpkin seeds, summer squash and turnip greens. The site also lists good sources of the nutrient as: soybeans, sesame seeds, black beans, quinoa, cashews, sunflower seeds, navy beans, tempeh, brown rice, barley, oats, tofu, almonds, papaya and flax seeds, to name a few.
If you don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods, supplements are available to help you bridge the gap.
by Pure Encapsulations by Douglas Laboratories
by Metagenics by Bluebonnet
People may take too much calcium thinking that they are providing even more bone support, when it can actually cause negative symptoms. By assessing your diet, you may find that you actually need greater amounts of magnesium, since most people consume more calcium each day.
You can learn more by watching this video from Great American Health.
One Last Note: You may have heard about some studies that show calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease. From what you’ve read here, you can probably guess that these participants were only taking calcium. It brings us back to the Life Extension warning above: “Excess calcium intake without regards to magnesium intake may increase heart attack and stroke risk.”
Did you realize there is a calcium/magnesium connection? Let us know your thoughts about this in the comments section below!