Tag Archives: magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, anxiety, and chronic degeneration

Inspirational quote: “Whenever I have a problem I sing, then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problem.” (and I feel better about my problem).

And then I take an Epsom salt bath to help treat irritability and the muscle cramps that can result from a magnesium deficiency. Some people may be more at risk for chronic magnesium deficiency due to intestinal malabsorption of the nutrient. Calcium may be preferentially absorbed within the intestines instead of magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency may affect levels of the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which may cause mood changes if it is not in balance with other more calming neurotransmitters. [Neurotransmitters and mood] The supplement choline is a precursor for acetylcholine and some users have noticed depressive affects with use of a high dose. [Acetylcholine and mood]

Taking the calcium supplements seemed to help reduce the elevated parathyroid hormone level but more recently they have seemed to cause a very rapid increase in muscle cramps and severe irritability. A magnesium bath every morning helped my mood change from rage to feeling like singing. It was kind of incredible to have my mood change so rapidly for reasons that were actually physical events — first I felt extremely angry shortly after swallowing a 100 mg calcium supplement and then I felt joyful after soaking in a bathtub for twenty minutes (soaking forty minutes or more can actually be dangerous because too elevated magnesium blood levels can cause an extreme slowing of the heart rate — don’t try that at home).

I haven’t had a psychiatrist tell me about the risks of magnesium deficiency to the mood or the benefits of an Epsom salt bath for the mood but I can hope, I can share information, and I can enjoy the benefits of Epsom salt baths while I wait. Eventually maybe psychiatry will recognize that the brain is connected to the body and that it is built out of nutrients, not out of pharmaceuticals.

Not surprising: People Reward Angry Men But Punish Angry Women, Study Suggests. Magnesium is effective and inexpensive and proton pump inhibitors are dangerous but patent protected. Get angry because the advice being sold as healthcare at an expensive profit may be causing harm over time. [PPIs and fracture risk, C difficile risk, FDA warning]

There may also be a gender bias regarding creativity, and provision of pain medication. There is also gender inequality in autoimmune disease — the majority of sufferers are female and the length of time between first onset of symptoms and diagnosis can be many years or even decades. Fifty million Americans are estimated to be suffering from some type of autoimmune disease (AD) and 75% of them are estimated to be female for reasons that are not clear at this time. [AARDA, Autoimmune disease in women]

“AARDA-conducted studies reveal a lack of trust in prescribing physicians, very likely fostered by the fact that the average AD patient may see more than four doctors in as many years before receiving a correct diagnosis. Also, more than 40 percent of AD patient report they have been told they were “too concerned about their health” or that they were hypochondriacs.”   –AARDA Launches “3-Second Adherence” Public Service Campaign.

I have been told that my physical symptoms are all psychosomatic so often that I really have no desire to go back  to anyone claiming to provide evidence based medicine. The evidence suggests to me that fifty million people are at risk from a system that doesn’t know what causes their condition or how to help them but who at the same time are willing to make random expensive guesses because after all they are just gambling with the patient’s time, money and long term health not their own.

Maybe eventually more health professionals will succumb to autoimmune illness themselves and then they will be more motivated to find more effective treatments that actually work on the underlying problems of nutrient deficiencies and metabolic imbalances. The body needs to be well nourished in order to make sialic acid for white blood cells to be able to properly identify damaged or improperly labeled cells such as the improperly labeled autoimmune antibodies and then to destroy the defective cells with a magnesium fueled enzymatic death (apoptosis).

I can hope, and I can share, and I can continue to try to take care of my own health.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


Kidney dialysis may be a side effect of sugarcane production in Nicaragua; a link

Chronic kidney disease has become a problem for almost half of the adult men in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The disease seems to the linked to the men’s work cutting sugar cane. The exact cause of the problem is unknown but it is suspected that dehydration is a factor due to the hot working conditions with limited time for breaks. Read more: [1] Chronic kidney disease might be less of a risk associated with their jobs if sugarcane workers were allowed enough time to take breaks to prevent dehydration from occurring, as dehydration itself can cause long term harm to the kidneys. [2]

As a consumer of sugarcane products I care about whether sugarcane workers are allowed their right to protect their health during their workday. As a human I care about the worker’s pain and shortened lifespans and about their families. Chronic kidney disease and kidney dialysis treatment require the patient to follow a very restrictive diet and the treatment requires the patient to stay attached to the dialysis machine for hours every few days.  Providing adequate breaks to the workers now seems like an easier strategy in the long run, to me.

There is also a question of gender representation — Why aren’t half of the women suffering from chronic kidney failure too? If the disease was caused by something in the environment it would show up in a more even distribution, men and women would be sick in equal numbers. If the disease is associated with cutting sugarcane then maybe women aren’t getting it because more men then women are working as sugarcane cutters. Likely cutting sugarcane is very physically demanding work and male skeletal structure and muscle mass on average simply is stronger and larger than female anatomy. Machines able to navigate sugarcane fields might be invented to do the job but that solution would be taking away yet more jobs from humans and a risky job, unfortunately, is better than no job for many people because, unlike corporations, people have to eat to survive.

Working in hot conditions causes a loss of fluid and electrolytes contained in sweat and overheating may further increase the amount of sweat that is produced. Evaporation of sweat can have a cooling effect on the body. Intense physical exercise in hot and humid conditions may cause losses of up to three liters of sweat which is almost equivalent to the water content of the body’s blood supply.  [3] Workers need to have enough time to drink, eat and cool down to help prevent the risk of acute dehydration and the risk of it causing lasting damage to the kidneys.

Allowing workers frequent breaks in the shade might give their bodies time to cool down and slow down the loss of nutrients caused by excessive sweating, and allow them enough time to drink water and have a salty magnesium rich snack to replace the nutrients that were lost in sweat or used by the kidneys. The water and potassium in a piece of fruit and a salty magnesium rich snack like tortilla chips would help replace the water, sodium, potassium, and magnesium that are essential for the kidneys function. [4] The kidneys have to have enough nutrients to be able to filter out the toxins that are produced daily as a normal part of physiology and any extra toxins created by a job with hard physical labor and then still have enough nutrients to filter out any additional toxins that may have been absorbed from working around the agricultural chemicals.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./

Actually we do know quite a bit about ALS

The Life Extension Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on research into preventative health strategies. The company does sell supplements, books, and a few other products but it also helps fund research in preventative health care. The foundation publishes an academic type journal and an article from the journal is available on their website which provides a review of the current theories and research available regarding Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). [1]

The article ends with a quote or two about the limited effectiveness and negative side effects associated with the medication that is currently prescribed for ALS patients. The sad point is that at least then the doctor can feel like they provided a service by writing a prescription but if it doesn’t really help slow progress of the disease and adds negative side effects then is that prescribing doctor really “Doing no harm.”?

The article doesn’t provide vitamin or supplement recommendations or provide other preventative guidance. It is a review of current research which did provide enough information to suggest to me several strategies that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS. I’m motivated because I fall into one of the ‘you may be at more risk for ALS if you also have this condition’ categories.

Studies suggest that ALS is more associated with some autoimmune and chronic infectious diseases and with some nutrient deficiencies or imbalances and with exposure to some environmental toxins.

A few points gleaned from the article that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS:

  1. Avoid mercury, lead, aluminum, manganese and other heavy metal toxins.
  2. Be careful if working with herbicides and pesticides to reduce exposure.
  3. Have adequate intake of calcium and magnesium – in balance. Excess calcium and too little magnesium may increase degenerative calcification of the central nervous system.
  4. Avoid excess intake of free glutamates. There are many sources of free glutamates in the diet as they are used as flavoring agents. MSG is one better known example. *The article doesn’t recommend avoiding glutamates, it mentions that ALS is associated with glutamate toxicity. One study found plasma levels of glutamate to be significantly elevated in ALS patients compared to controls (Plaitakis et al, 1993). One theory suggests that there may be a glutamate transport problem that allows the elevated levels to accumulate. [1] *Having adequate zinc and magnesium levels helps the cells control intracellular glutamate levels. [3], magnesium also helps control transmembrane movement of the other electrolytes: calcium, sodium and potassium. [4]
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/amlatscleral.html#sthash.ErWUopES.d
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/amlatscleral.html#sthash.ErWUopES.dpuf
  5. Have adequate but not excessive intake of selenium as it helps the body remove mercury. Two Brazil nuts per day provide about 200 micrograms of selenium which is the recommended daily goal. Excess selenium can cause toxicity symptoms so be careful not to take supplemental one-a-day or other mixtures that contain selenium in addition to taking selenium as an individual supplement or in addition to eating Brazil nuts regularly. Toxicity wouldn’t occur in a few days but might develop if multiple sources were eaten over a longer time period.
  6. Growth factor deficiency may be involved in development of ALS. Touch is important for stimulating human growth factor. Therapy pets and massage may also help stimulate internal production of human growth factor. *The article doesn’t mention the therapeutic benefits of touch. It only mentions that reduced growth factors are an underlying problem associated with ALS and pharmaceutical sources have been found helpful for slowing progress of the disease in some (but not all) studies. However touch can also help stimulate innate production of growth factors without needing a pharmaceutical company. [2]
  7. Spinal compression may increase risks of a similar nerve degeneration problem that can resemble ALS so /speculative/ regular exercise such as swimming might help or regular use of an inversion board at a gentle 10 degree slope might help relieve spinal pressure. /Disclosure, I do use an inversion board and find it helpful for headache and back problems but they can be dangerous so please seek individual guidance regarding their use./
  8. Some infections with long term chronic phases are associated with ALS type symptoms including Lyme’s disease, poliomyelitis, HIV/AIDs, and tertiary syphilis.
  9. Some endocrine and autoimmune diseases such as the hyperthyroid condition Grave’s disease and  Diabetic Amyotrophy are associated with ALS risk. Maintaining lower thyroid levels and avoiding thyrotoxicosis may help reduce risk of developing ALS.
  10. Some other conditions associated with ALS like problems include the neurological diseases: Pick’s Disease and Kennedy’s Syndrome; and the genetic enzyme disorders: Superoxide Dismutase, Hexosaminidase A, and Alpha-Glucosidase.
  11. /Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see an health professional for individual health care purposes./
  1. Lyme disease and poliomyelitis
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic Lateral Scleros

Magnesium might help protect against beta amyloid placques

Working on experimental medications for a prenatal population places the infants at risk in addition to the female patients. In my professional experience instructing clients about raw pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet frequently helped prevent preeclampsia or high blood pressure problems from reoccurring for patients with a history of having had the problem during a previous pregnancy. Pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds, both are good sources of magnesium and many other nutrients. The DASH diet promotes eating a serving of nuts, seeds or beans daily as a source of magnesium. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. [1]

Additional note: *Raw pumpkin seeds were my recommendation because the toasted salted ones can be very salty which would dilute the amount of magnesium naturally available in the seed compared to the large amount of sodium available from the added salt. Excess sodium can cause increased urinary losses of magnesium in the average person and may increase risk of high blood pressure in people who are salt sensitive. [5]

In a recent study conducted in 19 hypertensive patients after 2 months of adherence to a low (50 mmol/d) and high (200 mmol/d) sodium intake, the investigators observed an increase in intracellular (erythrocyte) calcium and sodium concentrations and a reduction in magnesium concentration during salt loading, primarily in salt-sensitive subjects.82 [5]

Nutritional strategies recommended to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease include increasing intake of magnesium. Research has found that low levels of magnesium promoted build up of  beta amyloid protein while high levels of magnesium promoted breakdown of the misshapen proteins.

“Lab studies show that magnesium modulates enzymes involved in amyloid beta production; at low levels, magnesium favors amyloid beta buildup, while at higher levels it favors amyloid beta breakdown.101,102″ [2]

That article also contains good news for coffee drinkers; drinking 3 to 5 cups of caffeinated coffee per day is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The article suggests that the caffeine content itself seems to provide the protective effects. [2] Coffee is also a good source of magnesium, perhaps that is a coincidence. However three to five cups of coffee is more than is recommended during pregnancy; one cup per day is likely safe while six cups of coffee per day may be harmful for pregnancy. The article also recommends blueberries and curcumin (found in turmeric which is commonly used in mustard and in curry powder) which would be safe during pregnancy.

The misshapen proteins have a protective effect against bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans so a chronic lowgrade infection may be an underlying cause of the accumulation of beta amyloid placques. [3] [4]

/Disclaimer: This information is for educational or entertainment purposes, see a health professional for individual medical guidance./

Obesity in America – look in your glass and then in your mirror

I know something about obesity. I have had success with my own over-weight problem and have worked with women and young families regarding their personal concerns – high or low weight gain. A loved infant who isn’t gaining weight can tug your heart strings as much as the youngster who can hardly move well from too many rolls of flesh in the way.
     Weight control is a multi-faceted problem. I have peeled off several layers of lifestyle and health problems that hindered my progress towards a stable healthy weight. Pysch-social features can be as difficult as lack of money or knowledge. I have been fortunate in having access to healthy foods and the money and knowledge to use them but I still struggle with choosing to take care of myself versus living in the moment of work or pleasure. Quick easy snacks don’t nourish in the long run as well as balanced meals, but I choose a carrot and an apple a day to help keep the cancer surgeon away. I also choose water as my main beverage choice.
     Juice, milk, soda pop, sports drinks, sweet tea, and other beverages can add up in calories and acidity. The calories pack on weight in the obvious way – more in plus less out equals weight stored for the long haul. A piece of fruit has more concentrated calories than vegetables but juice is even more concentrated. A 12 ounce soda or glass of juice has around 180 calories – roughly the calories of three small apples. The apple would fill up the stomach sooner and send a stop eating signal to the brain. The fiber would also help strengthen the intestinal jelly lining, the glycocalyx, and help strengthen immunity.
      The acid content of most beverages promotes obesity by draining magnesium stores. The kidney uses magnesium to flush excess acid waste in the urine. Our long term stores in the bones start running out as we get older or have had children. Anorexics, alcoholics, intensive care patients and burn victims are a few types of people that use excessive amounts of stored nutrients quickly and can show deterioration in health over a short time. Coffee can pack on calories and weight from sweeteners and creamers but the acidity of black coffee may add to weight problems too.
      The body’s reaction to magnesium deficiency is to increase insulin levels. Insulin increases appetite which increases eating. Historically, our ancestor’s food supply would have provided plenty of magnesium from most foods. Our farm soil, however, is no longer as rich and there isn’t much magnesium in most fertilizers. More calories are required to be eaten in order to provide the same amount of magnesium that was provided in the past, unless more nutrient dense food sources are chosen. Our appetite is telling us we are missing something and “will power” has to rein in the subconscious hunger that is signaling a nutrient deficiency and eventually eating too many calories ultimately leads to weight gain.
     Choosing low calorie pH neutral beverages can help make weight gain  a problem for other people worry about instead of you.
     I may be over encouraging the nut/bean/seed group as good magnesium sources; potatoes also have magnesium and our nation is eating fewer whole potatoes. Deep-fried fries aren’t great, potato chips are simply crispy salt delivery units in my mind – a negative treat – but American skillet fries or oven baked potato wedges are good and good for us.
     Portion control and variety is key to good health. A half cup of root vegetable with a cup of lower calorie vegetables like onions, peppers and broccoli would make a good skillet scramble. Add a half cup of tofu or an egg or 1/8th cup of walnuts for protein an you have a great brain wake up for the day.
     /Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Electrolytes are essential, magnesium helps protect brain cells

     Our bodies are like an ocean, not a fresh water lake. Our blood and cell fluid has a balance of salts and proteins that are essential for keeping things flowing and interacting as needed. Salts in our body are called electrolytes and they work in a buddy system.
Sodium and potassium are buddies that chemically can donate one electron for chemical bonds or energy interactions and calcium and magnesium can donate two electrons each. These minerals power nerve signals, muscle contractions and the movement of chemicals across cell membranes. All four are equally essential to have in our diet everyday.

Salt (Sodium chloride) has been a valuable trade commodity in ancient cultures. Seafood and salt mines are good sources.

Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables.

Calcium is found in hard water, in dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, greens, canned fish, fortified foods.

Magnesium is found in hard water, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains, chocolate and a little in most foods.

     We can die with too much or too little of any of the four essential electrolytes. Salt is not bad for us, we just need potassium in similar amounts. Processed foods tend to be overly salted and low in potassium. If we eat that way occasionally, no big deal, but if we eat that way most days then we may become low in potassium.

We lose electrolytes everyday in sweat and in the urine and feces. Muscle cramps can be a symptom of potassium deficiency and heart attacks can occur with abrupt drops in potassium. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom of magnesium or calcium imbalances.

Sweating a lot can leave us low in sodium and other electrolytes. Heatstroke can be due to excess heat [3] but it may also be due to hyponatremia or low sodium blood levels which can leave you feeling weak, dizzy and confused. Drinking plain water without also having a salty food may leave you feeling sick to your stomach if you are too dehydrated. Having a little salt or salty food first and then sipping the water might feel better when trying to rehydrate after a workout. The stomach controls what it lets into the more fragile intestine. If the stomach fluid is too thin and watery or too concentrated and acidic then the stomach will reject the fluid and cause vomiting. If the body has enough stored fluid and electrolytes then the stomach has systems for drawing in what it needs to digest whatever you eat. If you are dehydrated from excessive sweating then your stomach would not have those extra stores to use.

Magnesium may not be as familiar of a nutrient as calcium but it is just as essential to life. Excessive sweating during sports has been associated with sudden stroke later in the day in young athletes. It has been suggested that a sudden drop in magnesium from sweat losses may be the cause. Magnesium acts as the gate keeper in cell membranes and prevents calcium from flooding in from the blood. Calcium turns things on in the body and magnesium turns them off.

Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax again. Calcium activates the energy production in the cell’s mitochondria and too much calcium flooding into a brain cell at once can overwork the cell to the point of cell death.

Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids that also act as brain neurotransmitters and their movement is carefully controlled by the protein channels in our cell membranes. Magnesium keeps the protein channels shut, so a sudden drop in magnesium may also cause stroke due to excessive flooding of brain cells by glutamate or aspartate. It might be better to avoid drinking beverages that contain Nutrasweet (Aspartame contains aspartate) by themselves in sweaty situations. A magnesium containing electrolyte beverage like Glaceau’s “Smart Water” would provide the brain cells with magnesium which is needed to prevent calcium, glutamate and aspartate from entering the cell.

 Sweaty situations call for rehydrating with water, and a potassium rich fruit or vegetable or juice and having a salty snack. Have beans, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds with your salty snack and you have your magnesium losses replaced as well.

Re-hydrating is also important if you are losing fluid in diarrhea or vomit. It’s also worth remembering to hydrate after night sweats or during high fevers. Darker yellow urine is a sign that you are dehydrated. Dry, chapped lips and skin are also symptoms.

No extra money is needed for a fancy bottled beverage when you understand your body’s electrolytes and know which foods and drinks are good sources. Dehydration is a frequent reason that people go to the hospital emergency room but with planning it is a problem that can be prevented.

Thinking about good hydration may help to be more aware of thirst signals. It can be easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, so sometimes you can save calories and cut back on mindless snacking by trying a drink of water first.

Excerpt: Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks, By Jane E. Brody (NY Times, Pub: January 31, 2011) [link]

“The authors noted that “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death have been reported, as well as five separate cases of seizures associated with consumption of energy/power drinks.” Additional reports include an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing; a healthy 18-year-old man who died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull; and four cases of mania experienced by individuals known to have bipolar disorder.”

/Speculation/ The seizures, cardiac arrest, death after athletics, and mania could all be due to sudden changes in magnesium and potassium levels. The caffeine increases urine volume and urinary magnesium losses and the athletes also lost magnesium in sweat. The protein channels that have inadequate magnesium allow calcium to over-flood cell interiors. The calcium can trigger muscle spasms which may lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. Brain cells would also be vulnerable to over-excitation by calcium or the free amino acids, aspartame and glutamate. Brain cells that are constantly active could be associated with mania or seizures.

We could help prevent brain damage by adequately protecting our cell membranes with more frequent intake of magnesium containing foods and beverages. Seizures, strokes, migraines and mania are related to brain cells getting over stimulated and  the resulting lack of oxygen and energy stores can lead to cell death. The glutamate receptor rich areas of the brain are frequently the most devastated in the brains of sufferers of senile dementia.

 An Easy Solution: put magnesium back in beverages – it is in ground water and it is an essential electrolyte. The U.S. regulated it out in the past and bottlers have been removing it ever since – our intestines are suffering. [water policy history review – a 1920 Water Power Act had to do with hydroelectric water rights more than mineral content. I haven’t found more information about a bottled water act yet, [waterencyclopedia.com]
Every sip of a beverage that does not contain magnesium requires magnesium to be drawn to the intestines and stomach from our stored reserves – which are our bones – our structural support. If we want to stop osteoporosis then we need to be sipping and eating foods with a reasonable quantity of magnesium throughout the day. Any time we consume foods or fluids that have an electrolyte content that doesn’t match the concentration that is normal for our body requires our bodies take nutrients out of the reserves stored within our bones, those reserves run out eventually, leaving bones brittle from osteoporosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./