scenario occurs often in American health care:
takes the blood pressure of a patient with no known health
problems and finds it elevated. A diuretic is prescribed to
reduce body fluids and return blood pressure to normal.
during a follow-up appointment, the personís blood pressure
is even higher, leading to more blood-pressure medications
such as a calcium channel blocker and perhaps an ACE
pressure finally begins to come down but then the next round
of blood work reveals high cholesterol, leading to a
prescription for statin drugs. Now on three, even four,
prescribed drugs, the patient is eventually diagnosed with
type 2 diabetes, with more prescriptions added to the mix.
one moment, now-embattled with a variety of diseases the next.
What went wrong?
are recognizing that such a domino effect of health problems
can result from a magnesium deficiency, with each prescribed
drug further depleting the important mineral and raising
very start, the person might have needed nothing more than a
really believe this happens," said Betsy Blazek-OíNeill,
a physician with the Allegheny General Hospital Integrative
Medicine Program. "The literature is out there about
nutrient deficiencies caused by medications but doctors are
not paying attention to it. They are not bad doctors but just
overloaded and arenít always paying attention to the effects
of drugs on certain nutrients."
Dean, an M.D. and naturopathic physician based in Maui,
Hawaii, who this year updated her 2006 book, "The
Magnesium Miracle," also said the scenario described
"is a very common one," based on emails and accounts
from her patients whom she says sheís helped overcome
certain health problems solely with magnesium supplements.
World Health Organization said, "Low magnesium status has
been implicated in hypertension, coronary heart disease, type
2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome," while
noting that up to 80 percent of Americans are deficient in the
National Institutes of Health recommend daily consumption of
420 milligrams for men and 320 milligrams for adult woman,
with slightly more for pregnant women. Dr. Dean goes further,
suggesting 700 milligrams of elemental magnesium daily, a
level difficult nowadays to get through diet alone ó through
leafy green vegetables, squash, broccoli, legumes, seeds,
nuts, whole grains and some meats and saltwater fish ó
because of soil that is depleted of magnesium.
magnesium levels in food have been declining for the past 60
years because of intensive, high-yield farming practices and
synthetic fertilizers that can dilute concentrations of
nutrients, including magnesium, according to a study published
in Nutrition and Health in 2007, as well as others.
drugs further deplete the stores of magnesium in the body.
Among these are proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux,
including Prilosec, Zantac or Nexium; statins; and blood
pressure medications, Dr. Dean said. The biggest magnesium
busters are drugs containing fluoride, she said, which also is
added to public water systems to prevent cavities.
provides so many benefits that doctors might be unable to
pinpoint the problem. "They canít define the one thing
it does," Dr. Dean said.
literature is clear, she said. Magnesium may be our most
important and most necessary nutrient.
and pain expert C. Norman Shealy, and a noted holistic
medicine proponent, has said that "every known illness is
associated with a magnesium deficiency," adding that
magnesium is necessary for "electrical stability of every
cell in the body."
is involved in 700 to 800 enzyme systems bodywide and
necessary for proper nerve, bone, muscle and heart function,
while playing an important role in energy and digestion. It
also is a building block for RNA, DNA and neurotransmitters,
Dr. Dean said.
immediate symptoms of deficiency include heart palpitations,
leg and muscle cramps, constipation, insomnia, migraines and
Americans are used to being told they need calcium, excess
intake is now linked to heart problems, and osteoporosis rates
continue to rise in the United States. The National
Osteoporosis Foundation in April 2013 said about 9 million
Americans have osteoporosis and 48 million adults 50 and older
have low bone mass, representing the rising toll of problems
involving bone health.
people, in addition to good nutrition, healthy bones are
maintained by regular exercise, not smoking and sensible
consumption of alcohol.
Dean said too much calcium, coupled with magnesium deficiency,
will leave bones brittle. With sufficient magnesium, she said,
the bone latticework becomes more flexible, less likely to
and magnesium should be at a 1-to-1 ratio in the body, Dr.
Dean said, with the need for adequate levels of vitamin D and
K2 that help with mineral absorption for optimum bone health.
She said people should strive for the right ratio of calcium,
magnesium and vitamins K2 and D, noting the proper ratio of
those nutrients to be found in a combination of cod liver oil
and butter oil.
serum blood tests donít usually reflect deficiency because
the body tends to keep a steady supply of magnesium
circulating in the blood to assure enough is available to
sustain heart function, with the left ventricle having the
highest concentration of magnesium in the body. Deficiencies
are more readily gauged with the Magnesium RBC test ó a test
of magnesium levels inside red blood cells, Dr. Dean said.
magnesium deficiencies also can be challenging. Most
supplements include magnesium oxide, which has a 4 percent
absorption rate. Dr. Dean recommends supplements using
magnesium citrate or picometer-sized magnesium, which have
higher absorption rates. She sells a supplement on her