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Magnesium

Magnesium seems to be involved in several hundred enzyme pathways, all essential for optimum health. Not surprisingly, therefore, a lack of magnesium can lead to a great diversity of symptoms.

Many of magnesium's important functions are connected with the nervous system. Lack of magnesium causes a state of over excitability, with twitching, tremors, anxiety, hyperactivity, cramps, convulsions and insomnia. Because it counters such symptoms, magnesium has been christened 'Nature's tranquillizer'. Correction of some of these symptoms due to magnesium deficiency may be vital to the allergic patient, who may mis-assign them to am allergy.

Paradoxically, a lack of magnesium is a major factor in fatigue (a depressed, rather than excited state). This is almost certainly because magnesium is essential for phase I xenobiotic detoxification pathways. Lack of it can lead to an increase in unwanted metabolites such as chloral hydrate ('Mickey Finn', giving rise to a 'spacey' and tired feeling.

Another mechanism that could implicate magnesium in fatigue is that it is vital for splitting adenosine triphosphate (the body's principal energy-carrier molecule) into adenosine diphosphate. Without magnesium, this tissue energy is not bio-available.

A lack of magnesium can also lead to raised blood-pressure and heart abnormalities. PMT seems to benefit greatly from magnesium supplementation, probably because it is needed in metabolizing essential fatty acids. So does musculoskeletal pain; magnesium can be a great help to backache sufferers.

Despite its importance, there is no known test to substantiate how much magnesium is that the average diet provides only about 40 per cent of even the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)! Soils are depleted of magnesium due to acid rain; food processing removes a great deal of magnesium and high phosphates in the diet interfere with its absorption (colas and other fizzy drinks are high in phosphates).

Those especially at risk are alcohol drinkers, individuals with inflammatory gut disease, whether due to infection or allergies, and joggers and health buffs, who sweat a great deal. Overdoing it in the gym, without supplementing magnesium, may not be so healthy.

Orthomolecular levels: 200 to 400 mg daily. Care may be needed in supplementations as it can lead to diarrhoea and a worsening in magnesium status, due to a loss of electrolytes from the colon.

MAGNESIUM STATUS TEST

Dr Sherry Rogers of Syracuse, New York has devised a test to check for magnesium status in individuals. The test presupposes that the body retains magnesium if it needs it. Hence sharply excreted magnesium indicates a plentiful supply within the body. However, one cannot rely similarly on a low magnesium excretion - that may mean deficiency or that the patient is not absorbing it from the gut. Clinical judgement by the physician is required.

Urine samples are taken over a 24-hour period, to measure a baseline level of magnesium.

The individual is dosed with magnesium chloride tablets, 62 mg (two tablets) three times a day (372 mg daily).

After 48 hours a second urine sample is taken. The patient can report subjective changes (i.e. feelings of any improvement) at this time.

Percentages are found by dividing the baseline magnesium by the second level. Results of over 50 per cent suggest the person is absorbing magnesium poorly or that the magnesium is being retained because the patient is deficient.

Intravenous Magnesium

If the patient's status warrants it, intravenous administration of magnesium may be recommended by a physician. One gram is administered in a 2-ml saline shot, given slowly into a vein in the arm. We call this a magnesium "push". A recent article in the Lancet by leading clinical ecologists demonstrated conclusively that magnesium injections were beneficial for ME sufferers, confirming what clinical ecologists have been saying for years.

By the way, clinical ecologists in the know like to give each other magnesium IV for backache!

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