Minerals, such as magnesium, are essential for maintaining the body's health and play multiple roles. A balanced diet of ordinary foods can usually provide enough magnesium for the body’s needs. However, many people lack proper nutrition, so dietary supplements are a good way to ensure a proper level of magnesium intake. Naturopathic medicine promotes a holistic approach to health with minimal use of surgeries and drugs. Please make sure to consult your physician before attempting naturopathic remedies at home.
Magnesium is essential to the body’s health and well-being. The Office of Dietary Supplements, ODS, a division of the National Institutes of Health, states that about one-third to one-half of the magnesium taken in is absorbed by the body. About half of the magnesium in the body is in the skeleton, while only 1 percent is in the bloodstream. The remainder is inside cells for use in various functions like energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Special physiological mechanisms are in place to ensure magnesium levels in the blood are maintained at a certain level. This is because magnesium is a key component of hundreds of chemical reactions inside cells. Magnesium is required for muscle and nerve activity, maintains the normal heartbeat and keeps the immune system healthy.
Levels of magnesium circulating in the blood are regulated by the kidneys. These organs are the body’s filters, excreting unwanted substances and retaining those in need. The ODS explains that if the kidneys are damaged by conditions such as diabetes, infection or hypertension they can fail to function properly and may not filter out magnesium. The result can be an overabundance of serum magnesium. In contrast, some types of kidney damage may cause indiscriminate excretion of magnesium so that the body becomes depleted. This can occur with alcoholism and with certain medications. Too much or too little magnesium can cause similar symptoms including nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and weakness. More severe imbalances can lead to tingling and numbness, cramps, muscle spasms, seizures and heartbeat anomalies.
The word chelation comes from the Greek word for claw. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition information charity, chelation means that a mineral is held in place by a larger molecule, such as an amino acid or other organic molecule. The mineral is held much like a claw would hold a small object. Almost any mineral, such as magnesium, can be held in that configuration. Chelation prevents a normally reactive mineral or ion like magnesium from interacting with other reactive substances. Chelation is common in naturally occurring chemicals but it can also be produced artificially for processing substances like magnesium when used in dietary supplements.
Chelation can make it easier for the body to absorb magnesium. Magnesium used in dietary supplements can be chelated to any number of compounds. Often, these compounds are amino acids. Such chelation imitates the natural form so that the body can absorb it readily. Naturally chelated magnesium is found in substances such as chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color. This is why leafy green vegetables are a good source of magnesium. Additionally, nuts, seeds, peas, some beans and unrefined whole grains are good sources of magnesium.
According to the ODS, the daily recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 400 mg in men and 300 to 320 mg in women, ages 19 to 30. The RDA is 420 mg in men and 320 mg in women over 31. The daily RDA for pregnant women, depending on age, is 350 to 400 mg.
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