Minerals are ionic (electrically charged particles) conductors of electrical activity. Dissolved in bodily fluids they activate nerve cells and muscle cells. They also act as necessary cofactors to regulate, effect and affect your body’s metabolism. They maintain body pH and allow the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes. And they are all deficient in our food supply because minerals are never used in fertilizers to replenish nutrients. Instead, most modern farming uses chemicals and pesticides which bind up half the minerals remaining in the soil, making our foods mineral deficient.
One of those minerals which is depleted from our soils and foods is “magnesium”. Over 75% of Americans do not get their Recommended Daily Allowance of this mineral which makes them to a greater or lesser degree deficient. This is not a surprising statistic since this mineral is difficult to get enough of from diet alone.
Magnesium is the most important building block for creating a healthy body, and this begins with good stable energy. With solid energy you will accomplish more, have refreshing and rejuvenating sleep, you can exercise more, and feel more confident about your increasingly healthy body.
Magnesium has 14 primary functions which are divided among 700-800 enzyme reactions in the body of which magnesium is a co-factor and many of which are interchangeable.
Magnesium is necessary for making protein, RNA, DNA, hormones, nitric acid and much more.
As you read what magnesium is capable of doing, just imagine how many necessary functions are interrupted when a person is magnesium-deficient.
#1. Energy Production
Magnesium’s most important function is the creation of energy in the trillions of cells making up our body. Magnesium is a cofactor in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) via ATP synthase. ATP is manufactured in the mitochondria and it must be bound to a magnesium ion (MgATP) in order to be biologically active. There are 1,000-2,000 mitochondria in each human cell and ATP is made in each one through a series of 8 steps called the Krebs cycle. What’s remarkable about magnesium is that it is indispensable in 6 of those 8 steps.
We think of the Krebs cycle as a pathway for the breakdown of glucose but it takes pyruvate from the glycolysis cycle to make ATP energy molecules. The Krebs cycle is also necessary for the breakdown of all metabolites: sugars, amino acids and fatty acids. Each of these groups of molecules has a pathway that leads into the Krebs cycle. In addition, intermediates from the Krebs cycle can go the other direction and be used to synthesize amino acids and fatty acids. With the help of magnesium, the Krebs cycle in the mitochondria is our basic life force.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is being investigated by both allopathic and alternative medicine but any treatment must begin with therapeutic levels of magnesium.
ATP has many other functions besides being an energy source. Transmembrane ATPase imports substances necessary for cell metabolism and exports toxins and wastes across cell membranes. A hydrogen-potassium ATPase creates the gastric proton pump, which acidifies the contents of the stomach. Many other pumps and transporters are all directed by ATPases with magnesium as its necessary co-factor.
The ATP energy of the body is a necessary fuel that you can’t create if you don’t have enough magnesium to make that energy.
#2. Membrane Stabilizer
Stabilization decreases excitation of nerves and contraction of muscle cell membranes. This action is what keeps muscles from twitching and nerves from zapping. Specifically it inhibits or abolishes “action potentials” from moving across a membrane. Membrane stabilization is the way local anesthetics work.
#3. Protein Production
This biotech process of generating a specific protein requires magnesium. Protein production involves the manipulation of gene expression in an organism. The most recent research found that magnesium is required for the structural integrity of numerous body proteins. To date, 3,751 magnesium receptor sites have been found on human proteins.
#4. RNA & DNA
Magnesium is required for the structural integrity of nucleic acids. Consequently, magnesium is a requirement for RNA and DNA production.
#5. GTP and Protein Synthesis
Magnesium is a cofactor for the enzyme guanosine triphosphatase. GTPase has many functions. It acts as a source of energy for protein synthesis and other biochemical processes such as:
(a) signal transduction, or “switching” on specific receptor proteins located on cell membranes and transmitting that signal to trigger taste, smell, and perception of light
(b) protein biosynthesis
(c) control and differentiation of cell division
(d) translocation of proteins through cell membranes
(e) transport of vesicles (think of vesicles as cellular envelopes that are used to transport materials from one place to another. Vesicles also function in metabolism and enzyme storage as well) within the cell and assembly of vesicle coats.
#6. Phospholipase C
Magnesium is a cofactor for the enzyme phospholipase C, which is a class of enzymes that split phospholipids at the phosphate group, creating signal transduction pathways. The most important one allows calcium to enter cells. Magnesium, at a concentration ten thousand times greater than that of calcium inside the cells, allows only a certain amount of calcium to enter to create the necessary electrical transmission, and then immediately helps to eject the calcium once the job is done. Otherwise, if calcium accumulates in the cell it triggers hyperexcitability and disrupts cell function. Too much calcium unregulated due to magnesium deficiency can deposit in soft tissues and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions such as some forms of arthritis, kidney stones, osteoporosis and calcification of the arteries leading to heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
#7. Adenylate Cyclase
Magnesium is a cofactor for the enzyme adenylate cyclase. This enzyme converts ATP to cAMP and pyrophosphate. Cyclic AMP is used for intracellular signal transduction of the effects of hormones like glucagon (glucagon is a hormone that helps the liver release glucose in order to raise blood-sugar levels) and adrenaline into cells because the hormones can’t pass through cell membranes. Cyclic AMP is involved in the activation of protein kinases and regulates the effects of adrenaline and glucagon. It also binds to and regulates the function of ion channels or gateways into the cell.
#8. Guanylate Cyclase
Magnesium is a cofactor for the enzyme guanylate cyclase. This enzyme synthesizes cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) from guanosine triphosphate (GTP) keeping cGMP-gated ion channels open, allowing calcium to enter the cell. Cyclic GMP is an important second messenger that transmits the message across cell membranes from peptide hormones and nitric oxide, and it can also function in hormone signaling. It can trigger changes requiring protein synthesis. In smooth muscle, cGMP is the signal for relaxation, which can regulate vascular and airway tone, insulin secretion, and peristalsis (the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine or another canal, creating wavelike movements that push the contents of the canal forward).
#9. 700-800 Enzyme Processes
Magnesium is a required cofactor for the activity of hundreds of enzymes processes. I quoted the standard number of 325 enzymes when I wrote the first edition of The Magnesium Miracle. However, the number 325 is far too low. Dr. Rosanoff says, “While it was estimated in 1968 that magnesium was a required cofactor for over 300 enzyme processes, that number is now more reliably estimated at 700 to 800”[i] The authors of “Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease” assure us that the number of magnesium enzymatic reactions is 600.[ii]
#10. Regulates Ion Channels
Magnesium is a direct regulator of ion channels, most notably via the other key electrolytes potassium, calcium and sodium. Magnesium is intimately involved in potassium transport.[iii] Magnesium and potassium depletion cause similar damaging effects on the heart. Furthermore, it is impossible to overcome potassium deficiency without replacing magnesium. That’s why hospitals seem to have such a difficult time finding the right electrolyte balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride, because they ignore magnesium and do not routinely measure it in their electrolyte panels and when they do test for it, they use the inadequate Serum Magnesium test.
Magnesium is intimately involved in calcium channels regulating the amount of calcium that enters and leaves the cell, orchestrating the exact amount of calcium that’s required to cause a muscle or nerve cell to contract and then flushing that extra calcium out to prevent excessive contraction. Thus, magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker. But instead of using magnesium to modify the effect of calcium on body physiology, allopathic medicine insists on using calcium-channel-blocking drugs that have many side effects, including the depleting of magnesium resulting in an even higher level of magnesium deficiency.
#11. Intracellular Signaling
Magnesium is an important intracellular signaling molecule itself. I’ve mentioned signaling several times; the role of cell signaling cannot be underestimated. Without intercellular communication the cells of the body would not be able to function at all.
#12. Oxidative Phosphorylation
Magnesium is a modulator of oxidative phosphorylation during which electrons are transferred from electron donors to electron acceptors such as oxygen in redox reactions, using magnesium as a cofactor. These redox reactions, called electron transport chains, form a series of protein complexes within the cell’s mitochondria that release energy or ATP.
#13. Nerve Conduction
Magnesium is intimately involved in efficient nerve conduction. Although calcium is vital for proper nervous system function, too much calcium is dangerous. Excess calcium is pro-inflammatory and can excite nerves to the point of cell death.
#14. Muscle Function
Magnesium is intimately involved in efficient muscle function. The mechanisms are varied and include oxygen uptake, electrolyte balance, and energy production. Magnesium makes muscles work properly, allowing calcium to cause muscle contraction and then push calcium out of the muscle cells to allow the relaxation phase. In the same way that nerve cells can be “excited to death,” muscle cells stimulated by too much calcium can go into uncontrollable spasm, resulting in tissue damage such as occurs in a heart attack.
Magnesium is critical to overall health. Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium citrate powder is highly absorbable and can be mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or or at home throughout the day.
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle, 2017 Edition Now updated with 30 percent new material, the only comprehensive guide to one of the most essential but often-overlooked minerals, magnesium—which guards against and helps to alleviate heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and asthma.
[i] Andrea Rosenoff, www.prohealth.com/library/ print.cfm?libid=14606.
[ii] de Baaij, JHF. et. al. “Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease” Physiological Reviews. Jan 1, 2015 Vol. 95 no. 1, 1-46.
[iii] Shi J, et al. Mechanism of magnesium activation of calcium-activated potassium channels. Nature 2002;418(6900):876-80.