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What is Magnesium and Why Do You Need It?

Magnesium is one of the main electrolyte minerals in the body alongside sodium, calcium, and potassium.

The operation of over 40% of all enzymes in the body have magnesium as a co-factor, or are magnesium dependent. Enzymes are the catalysts of almost every function that happens within the body. 

Lets explore some content from "Therapeautic Uses of Magnesium" by Guerrera, M.P., M.D, Volpe, S. L., PHD, Mao, J. J., M.D. (2009) American Family Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-162.

"Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal metabolic function. Research has shown that the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining, and that magnesium depletion has been detected in persons with some chronic diseases... Studies have shown the effectiveness of magnesium in eclampsia and preeclampsia, arrhythmia, severe asthma, and migraine. Other areas that have shown promising results include lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, improving glucose and insulin metabolism, relieving symptoms of dysmenorrhea, and alleviating leg cramps in women who are pregnant. 

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant essential mineral in the body... Studies estimate that 75 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended dietary allowance of magneisum, which has raised concern about the health effects of magnesium deficiency. Lifestyle factors (e.g., poor nutrition, excess alcohol intake), some medications (e.g., diuretics), and lower mineral content in commonly eaten foods (e.g., fruit, vegetables) have led to an increase in studies evaluating the potential link of magnesium deficiency to a number of diverse medical conditions, and magnesium's possible effectiveness in supplementation."

When describing in detail some more of magnesium's roles in the body, they say
"These processes include protein synthesis, cellular energy production and storage, cell growth and reproduction, DNA and RNA synthesis, and stabilization of mitochondrial membranes. Magnesium is one of the minerals responsible for managing bone metabolism, nerve transmission, cardiac excitability, neuromuscular conduction, muscular contraction, vasomotor tone, and blood pressure. Magnesium also plays a significant role in glucose and insulin metabolism, mainly through its impact on tyrosine kinase activity, phosphorylase b kinase activity, and glucose transporter protein activity. Because of these vital roles, magnesium levels may be affected by stressors to the body, such as in certain disease states. Supplementation with magnesium may have therapeutic effects in these situations."

Lots to unpack here - but in simpler terms, Magnesium effects almost every physical process. It is a truly foundational piece of the biological puzzle. 

A large part of why the list goes on and on regarding Magnesium is because of that important enzyme concept. Enzymes facilitate most physical functions.

What does that mean? To properly process carbohydrates into biological energy - there are specific enzymes required. To provide oxygen to your tissues - specific enzymes required. To produce hormones like testosterone and progesterone from cholesterol - specific enzymes. All of these enzymes require minerals to work, one of the main minerals being Magnesium. 

If enzymes are impaired or inhibited, then functionality suffers. When functionality suffers, you get "X" symptom, or get labeled with "Y" condition. But in reality there is a larger issue at hand that can be addressed by looking at the very foundational pieces of creating health, such as mineral balance and nutritional sufficiency. Which, along with the mitigation of physical, mental, and emotional stressors, are at the root of every issue. 

So if you want to rid yourself of any symptom, it's important to look at the bigger picture. Even if it's something as benign as general fatigue, lack of motivation, or mental obstacles such as anxiety, insecurity, depression, or brain fog. It may very well be that the conductors of the entire orchestra are missing, and once that is addressed a lot of these issues will go away. Of course, also done in context with a diet filled with nutrient dense foods, not restrictive of sugar/carbohydrates (the primary fuel of the cell), and animal sourced protein. 

In other posts I'll go more into why everyone is Magnesium deficient in the context of post-industrial revolution life, how Magnesium is required for all biological energy production (it's not ATP, it's MgATP), and what's the best way to deal with that deficiency to optimize our physical function and overall health. 



1. Guerrera, M.P., M.D, Volpe, S. L., PHD, Mao, J. J., M.D. (2009). Therapeutic Uses of Magnesium. American Family Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-162.

2. J Lin, L P Pan, S I Chan. (1993). The subunit location of magnesium in cytochrome c oxidase. J Biol Chem. 1993 Oct 15;268(29):22210-4.

3. A Panov, A Scarpa. (1996). Independent modulation of the activity of alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex by Ca2+ and Mg2+. Biochemistry. 1996 Jan 16;35(2):427-32. doi: 10.1021/bi952101t.

4. Martha Rodríguez-Morán, Fernando Guerrero-Romero. (2003). Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1147-52. doi: 10.2337/diacare.26.4.1147.

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