Cal-Mag – A Dynamic Duo!

There have been countless TV commercials over the years talking about calcium and how it is important for strong bones and teeth.  Calcium is the primary mineral in your bones, which hold more than 99% of the calcium stored in the human body.  Since the body is constantly regenerating bone tissue it is important to consume an adequate amount of calcium daily.

That said, there’s WAY more to it than that…you also need magnesium in the right proportion.

Magnesium is a perfect partner for calcium because it is needed for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form that aids in the absorption of calcium.

For years it was believed that a good combination of calcium and magnesium would be in a 3:1 ratio.  That belief has been traced back to a French scientist named Jean Durlach, who stipulated that a 3:1 ratio was a not-to-be-exceeded level when your total intake of calcium is considered.  While he meant that to be a maximum number, his statement was apparently interpreted by many to be the recommended level.  

The more recent findings strongly suggest that a 1:1 ratio is optimal.  

The medical director of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association is Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, and she supports the new findings of a 1:1 ratio.  If you take too much calcium without adequate magnesium to help the body absorb it, the excess calcium won’t be utilized correctly and may become toxic.  As a result, that toxicity may cause some forms of arthritis, prostate cancer, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and calcification of the arteries, leading to heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, yikes!

Focusing primarily on magnesium, there are specific functions it performs in the human body.  First and foremost is bone health.  Magnesium is believed to improve bone health both directly and indirectly because it helps to regulate calcium and vitamin D levels, which are vital nutrients for bone health.  Magnesium is also linked to higher bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis after menopause.

Cardiovascular health is also improved with proper magnesium levels in the body, and deficiencies have been linked to higher risks of congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and clinical outcomes are generally worse.

Research indicates that an increase in magnesium intake can lower a person’s risk of stroke and to a small extent it may help lower blood pressure, reducing hypertension.

Diabetics also benefit because of the important role magnesium plays in glucose control and insulin metabolism.  A 2015 review in the World Journal of Diabetes indicates that most people with diabetes have low magnesium levels and that shortage may worsen insulin resistance.  It is unclear whether insulin resistance causes low magnesium levels, however, a systematic review in 2017 suggests that taking magnesium supplements can improve insulin sensitivity in people with low magnesium levels.

Migraine headaches may also result in part from low magnesium in the body.  Migraine sufferers generally improve with magnesium therapy with daily doses of 400-500 mg per day as a prevention method.

Depression and anxiety are also potentially helped by increasing your levels of magnesium, partly due to activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a set of three glands that control a person’s reaction to stress.  Scientists are at the earliest stages of this research and the evidence is only now being compiled.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms may also be reduced with magnesium, with research suggesting that magnesium supplements could help to reduce bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings.

It is important to remember that magnesium is just one factor in healthy bones because calcium and vitamin D are also critical nutrients and they work together to improve absorption and metabolism.

The other necessary component is collagen–which we already covered in another blog post. 🙂 

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