Magnesium plays a key role in more than 350 enzymes in the body. Magnesium is involved in virtually every metabolic process occurring in the body. Dr. Zittermann’s new editorial on magnesium (Mg) and vitamin D is important. I have been stressing the importance of Magneisum for the last several years with all my functional medicine patients.

In his editorial, Dr. Zittermann highlights the importance to start looking at magnesium deficiency as a serious and common health problem.

Unfortunately, we do not have a great way to measure magnesium status. For example, serum Mg represents only 1% of Mg stores. Magnesium is homeostatically controlled in the serum and measuring serum Mg levels provides many false negatives. By the time your serum Mg is low, you are very deficient as the body cannot maintain the serum Mg levels.

How does one know if you are Mg deficient? Serum magnesium is not the answer. Magnesium, RBC is definitely better and can be done by most lab and all functional medicine labs. This is probably still not reliable enough. As of today, a Mg intake assessment is the only way to know if one is Mg deficient. That means counting all foods in your diet and then looking those foods up on Mg content of foods table.

When we assess Mg intakes, repeated studies show the average American has inadequate intakes of Mg. Mg consumption is particularly low among adolescent females, adult females, and elderly men, with one study showing that 85%, 80%, and 75%, respectively, of the population groups having mean Mg intakes below their respective RDA.

It is a fact that more than 50% of Americans are Mg deficient, and we have no good way to assess Mg status. My recommendation is to take supplemental Mg 500mg/day (500 mg/day is certainly safe, unless one has renal failure).

Magnesium plays a huge role with overall cardiovascular health, blood pressure regulation, muscle relaxation, etc. I personally use Magnesium Malate Chelate for my patients.


Vitamin D Council Newsletter. Magnesium: A common deficiency that we can’t measure. Nov. 5, 2013

Zittermann A. Magnesium deficit: overlooked cause of low vitamin D status? BMC Medicine, 2013.

Douban S, Brodsky MA, Whang DD, Whang R. Significance of magnesium in congestive heart failure. Am Heart J. 1996 Sep;132(3):664-71. Review

Quamme GA. Magnesium homeostasis and renal magnesium handling. Miner Electrolyte Metab. 1993;19(4-5):218-25. Review.

Beyenbach KW. Unresolved questions of renal magnesium homeostasis. Magnesium. 1986;5(5-6):234-47. Review.

Elin RJ. Assessment of magnesium status for diagnosis and therapy. Magnes Res. 2010 Dec;23(4):S194-8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2010.0213. Epub 2010 Aug 24.

Morgan KJ, Stampley GL, Zabik ME, Fischer DR. Magnesium and calcium dietary intakes of the U.S. population. J Am Coll Nutr. 1985;4(2):195-206.

In one NHANES study, none of the African Americans studied met the RDA for Mg.

Fulgoni V 3rd, Nicholls J, Reed A, Buckley R, Kafer K, Huth P, DiRienzo D, Miller GD. Dairy consumption and related nutrient intake in African-American adults and children in the United States: continuing survey of food intakes by individuals 1994-1996, 1998, and the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2000. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Feb;107(2):256-64.

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