The dangers of magnesium deficiency

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magnesium-deficiency(NaturalHealth365) Probably the single most important property of magnesium in the body is its ability to act as a natural biological antagonist to calcium. As most adults have excess calcium throughout their bodies, it is this reciprocal relationship between magnesium and calcium that makes most people in need of regular magnesium supplementation.

In fact, the more you have of one, the less you have of the other. When calcium levels are high in the cells and the extracellular fluids, as they are in most adults, magnesium levels are corresponding low. And, because of this unique relationship, taking regular sizeable doses of supplemental magnesium works to mobilize and excrete calcium – which is one of the healthiest effects that can result to the typical body overloaded with calcium.

The medical myth surrounding calcium and the importance of getting enough magnesium

Deficiency of calcium is common in aged bone, but, in contrast to what is believed by many doctors and supplement takers, there really is no such thing as a body-wide deficiency of calcium, only normalcy, which is rare, and excess, which is very common.

So what does magnesium do for us?

Just like the class of prescription drugs known as calcium channel blockers, magnesium appears to have the ability to block calcium channels. This ability to block these channels that extend across the cell membranes results in a limitation of the calcium quantity that would otherwise be taken up by the cells – effectively lowering the intracellular concentrations of calcium in the cells throughout the body.

Largely because of this effect on excess calcium inside the cells of the body, supplemental magnesium has been documented to be beneficial in asthma, eclampsia, migraines, hypertension, convulsive disorders, stroke, atherosclerosis, acute myocardial infarction, and inflammation in general.

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Increased smooth muscle tone is one common denominator among these conditions, and magnesium, like a prescription calcium channel blocker, can very effectively bring down elevated blood pressures.

Do you suffer with osteoporosis? (Read this)

Because of its unique relationship to calcium, along with its ability to largely normalize calcium metabolism when present in sufficient amounts, magnesium is a very effective anti-osteoporosis agent.

As a monotherapy, it has demonstrated the ability to increase bone density and to decrease fracture incidence. In addition, magnesium can dissolve abnormal calcium deposits outside of the bone and keep them in solution until re-utilized in normal calcium metabolism or excreted in the urine.

It has also been documented to decrease elevated intracellular levels of calcium – a very important component of all chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer. The ‘flip side,’ a magnesium deficiency, has been documented to promote abnormal calcium deposition, increase the calcium levels inside cells, initiate the pathology of osteoporosis, and even promote the growth of cancer cells.

What are the other biological effects?

Magnesium has been documented to be a important player in the regulation of insulin action in the body. It has been found to have anti-atherosclerotic effects, and some studies have indicated it plays a role in improving brain function and learning.

Its role as an essential enzymatic cofactor is enormous, as its presence is required in more than 300 different enzymatic reactions. Basically, adequate magnesium levels, within the body, will decrease the chance of dying from anything.

In large studies, magnesium has been documented to decrease all-cause mortality. This means that the effect of magnesium is so important in the body that its deficiency makes all diseased cells sicker, while its restoration improves the health of all those compromised cells.

Although a large body of work has looked at the effect of magnesium in lessening the chances of death from coronary heart disease, some of these studies have also shown, seemingly unintentionally, that it decreases the chances of death from anything.

The very powerful effects of supplementation were demonstrated exceptionally well in two such studies. Both studies looked at the effects of a continuous magnesium infusion over either a 24 or a 48-hour period, in patients with suspected or established heart attacks.

A total of 22 grams of magnesium sulfate was given in the patients treated for 48 hours. In both studies, the treated patients had a decreased all-cause mortality rate for a full 5 years following the studies.

Few, if any, other medicines, nutrients, or other beneficial agents administered for the general support of good health can be given in any dose for only a period of 1 to 2 days and have such a profoundly positive impact for such an extended period of time.

The best magnesium for human consumption

While there is much more significant information on the positive effects of magnesium supplementation, it is beyond the scope of this brief article. When supplementing any mineral like magnesium, you want to have a supplement form that supplies both a desirable anion along with the cation, in this case magnesium. While not the only good supplemental form of magnesium, my recommendation is magnesium glycinate – which also is supplementing an amino acid that is needed in abundance by the body.

Large amounts of magnesium in any oral form can cause diarrhea, and the individual needs to determine what their bowel tolerance is for the supplementation form that they take. While any amount of magnesium supplementation is good, if the bowels allow it, a desirable supplementation amount would be between 300 to 500 mg.

There is nothing wrong with taking more if you tolerate it, but having the guidance of a knowledgeable doctor would be a good idea – if you want to go higher. And, if you can only tolerate 100 mg, – then still go ahead and take that amount.

About the author: Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD is a board-certified internist and cardiologist. He is also bar-certified for the practice of law. He has written extensively on the importance of eliminating toxins while bolstering antioxidant defenses in the body, with particular focus on vitamin C.  His book entitled Magnesium: Reversing Disease is now available at or  For more information about Dr. Levy – visit:

Sources for this article include:

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Lee in San Francisco
Lee in San Francisco
6 years ago

First of all, I’m always glad to read anything authored by Dr. Levy. After your recent Sunday interview with Dr. Levy (regarding his excellent book, “Death by Calcium”), I began taking magnesium glycinate tablets, which is a cost effective method. It was great to learn here what the recommended possible doses are for considering taking “extra” magnesium.

Another form of magnesium is that which is applied transdermally, using magnesium oil and/or bath salts. I wonder what Dr. Levy would say about it, as compared to magnesium glycinate?

One big pay-off of using magnesium transdermally is that it is enormously relaxing (far better than a sleeping pill!). Magnesium bath salts also make the bath feel very silky. Another advantage is that magnesium applied transdermally fosters DHA, whereas the tablet form of magnesium does not. With transdermal magnesium application, there is apparently no risk of over dosing, either, because the skin, as part of the body’s intelligence, will not absorb more than magnesium than it can use. (I apologize that I cannot cite a source here for this information, which I read somewhere along the way.)

Several years ago, I heard an interview with Dr. Mercola, in which he stated the three main nutrient deficiencies of the American public. They were magnesium, iodine, and Vitamin D3, so this information is very timely and relevant. I hope that everyone takes heed of it!

G Clay
G Clay
Reply to  Lee in San Francisco
6 years ago

I believe you are citing Dr. Mark Sircus about the Transdermal Magnesium Therapy and Magnesium oil. And YES it works, it has saved me from physically suffering the rest of my life after almost forty years of misery.

6 years ago

It is one of the very best forms of magnesium. Dr. Carolyn Deane MD has a website that you can search through. Her book “Magnesium Miracle” is very interesting. – By the way Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate is the one I have been using for about 10 years, and love it. Very helpful.

6 years ago

I think what you mean is edible.

Adriane Peterson
Adriane Peterson
6 years ago

I don’t believe there is an edible magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt). It is used to soak in the bath or in a foot bath as you will absorb the magnesium thru your skin. In the article when Dr. Levy mentioned magnesium sulfate given in a continuous infusion, that means thru an IV, not orally, and under a doctor’s supervision. Stick with the magnesium glycinate orally. You can get it from and they ship internationally.