Natural Products Insider

MAR-APR 2019

INSIDER is the leading information source for marketers, manufacturers and formulators of dietary supplements, healthy foods and cosmeceuticals. Since 1997, INSIDER has been serving the needs of the global nutrition industry.

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72 INSIDER March/April 2019 Magnesium is a mineral nutrient integral to human survival. 1 It is vital for virtually all the body's life processes, 2,3,4 yet magnesium defi ciency is widespread in the United States. 5 Some 300 of the human enzymes that generate "energy currency"—adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—require this mineral, as do hundreds of the other enzymes, transporter proteins, receptors and signaling molecules that power the human body's trillions of cells. 2,3,4,6 In the cells, magnesium is essential to make DNA, package it into genes and chromosomes, add telomeres (linked to health and longevity 7 ) and translate the coded DNA into new protein molecules as needed. 1,2,3 Magnesium also counters damaging calcium buildup in soft tissues. 3 It is also linked to vitamin D utilization— magnesium defi ciency likely worsens vitamin D defi ciency. 8 Magnesium is fundamental to physical performance, 9,10 and it is indispensable for both heart muscle contraction-relaxation and for regulating the heartbeat. Magnesium supplements are increasingly being used to relax muscle cramping, including for migraine prevention, 4 as well as to calm the mind and improve quality of sleep. 11 Magnesium is also a cornerstone of circulatory health. 12-16 A recently published, 24-year-long study found low serum magnesium predicted higher risk for peripheral arterial disease, which refl ects atherosclerosis outside of the coronary arteries. 12 The human brain has an enormous energy appetite: It needs at least 20 percent of all the body's energy. 17 Making all this energy requires magnesium, and the brain's trillions of nerve cell connections (synapses) need this mineral to facilitate information processing networks. 1,18 Magnesium is also needed to keep the blood-brain barrier tight and help prevent unwanted agents from entering the brain. 19 Brain research with magnesium has accelerated in recent years. Good magnesium status is now proven essential to memory, learning, concentration, mood, behavior and even personality. 1,18,20,21 So much clinical research data is now available on magnesium's health benefi ts that "meta-analyses" are being published. When well-designed, such analyses increase the statistical power to detect benefi t (or lack thereof) by pooling the data from multiple clinical trials. Currently, meta-analyses link higher blood magnesium levels to lowered risk for hypertension, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, 22 as well as to healthy levels of CRP (C-reactive protein), a marker of infl ammation. 23 One meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million individuals linked higher magnesium intake to reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes and all-cause mortality. 24 Meta-analysis is revealing genes that link magnesium defi ciency to insulin resistance. 25 Bone supplements should always include magnesium, as calcium's incorporation into bone must be preceded by magnesium incorporation. Most of the body's magnesium is present in the bones, and magnesium plays several roles in facilitating bone cell proliferation and calcium crystal formation. 2 Higher magnesium intake is linked to lower risk of bone fracture. 26 Pregnant and breastfeeding women are another emerging demographic in need of magnesium supplementation. Not surprisingly, magnesium is fundamental both to the baby's development and the mother's health during pregnancy. 4 Plus, children on the autistic spectrum can benefi t from supplements that combine magnesium with vitamin B6. 27 Insuffi cient dietary intake of magnesium is widespread. Comprehensive surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated a majority of Americans aren't reaching the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of this vital nutrient. 4,6 With the continuing decline of magnesium content of vegetables and other foods in recent decades, 28 supplementing with magnesium is a worthwhile option. The true incidence of magnesium defi ciency is masked by inadequate lab test methods. 28 Though 99 percent of the body's magnesium is located inside the body's cells, the standard lab test measures only blood (serum) magnesium, located outside the body's cells. Factors such as stress, high alcohol intake, use of various over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs, diabetes, prolonged exercise, digestive or kidney problems and advancing age all contribute to magnesium defi ciency. 3,4 Most existing magnesium supplements are substandard. Magnesium can only get into cells in its ionized form—the magnesium atom with two positive charges (Mg2+). 1,2,3,28 To generate magnesium ions, the magnesium compound must dissolve in water. Magnesium oxide fails to dissolve in water and, in absorption studies, fails to deliver magnesium ions into the blood, 29 yet it continues to be widely used as a magnesium supplement ingredient. Compared to the oxide form, magnesium citrate, glycinate, malate and threonate dissolve into water far better, and all feature good to excellent absorption, tolerability and health benefi ts. 21,29-31 After decades of being underrecognized, magnesium is now in the spotlight. Hundreds of millions of people likely can benefi t from taking competently formulated magnesium supplements. This makes magnesium excellent nutritional health insurance. Parris Kidd, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in cell biology-zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. Beginning in 1984, while a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research investigator at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, he published authoritative texts on antioxidants that launched him into nutritional medicine. In 1994, Kidd helped establish phosphatidylserine (PS), then glycerophosphocholine (GPC). Kidd is chief science offi cer and director of quality for BrainMD Health. Magnesium Magnesium: Cornerstone of Nutritional Health Insurance by Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D. For a list of references, email

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