In December, the Desert Sun ran an informative article entitled Is Magnesium Deficiency a Clue to Many Ailments? by David Templeton of TNS Global. It stated that 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium according to the World Health Organization, and that low magnesium levels have been implicated in hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Adding to the problem are many common medications like proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux (Nexium, Prilosec), statins, and blood pressure medications that deplete magnesium, while the phytates in breads and grains reduce magnesium absorption by 60 percent.1

Yet when I ask many of my friends who take these medications or have suffered from heart palpations and/or A-Fib, many are unaware of the need to supplement.

In his book Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, Palm Springs cardiothoracic surgeon Steven Gundry, MD, states that most adults become profoundly deficient in magnesium which is essential for muscle contraction, nerve conduction and healthy bones.2 He informs us that this mineral is so essential that all heart surgery patients receive 1 to 2 grams intravenously during and every six hours after their operation to normalize their heart rhythm and control blood pressure.

Cardiologist William Davis, MD, of our lead feature agrees, adding that a diet rich in “healthy whole grains” virtually assures deficiency, which has become the rule versus the exception.

The recommended daily allowance is 420 milligrams per day for men and 320 mg for women, although Gundry advises working your way up to as high a dose as you can tolerate (between 500-1,000 mg per day) without having loose bowels. “Working your way up” should not be taken lightly, and you may consider starting at 50 mg. As Gundry notes, the laxative isn’t named Milk of Magnesia for nothing! (On my general advice to take magnesium, a family member started at 500 mg and will, unfortunately, never take it again).

Gundry also notes that when magnesium and calcium are combined in a supplement, you actually get less of each.

According to Davis, the most effective way to replenish magnesium (short of intravenous transfusion) is to make your own magnesium bicarbonate from unflavored Milk of Magnesia and seltzer water. The recipe, which is available online (www.afibbers.org/Wallerwater.pdf) and in Davis’ new book Wheat Belly Total Health, should be followed as outlined and can help alleviate loose bowels from capsules or powder.

In my interview with Davis, he indicated that there are no heart medications that interact negatively with magnesium, although if you take medications, you should always check with your doctor before adding a new supplement. “The only danger to magnesium is if someone has kidney disease,” he states, “because we lose magnesium in our urine, and if we stop clearing magnesium, we can start accumulating magnesium and it can become toxic.” On the contrary, he adds, there are some medications that become lethal in the presence of magnesium deficiency such as some antibiotics, anti-depressants and some heart rhythm medications.

As preventative or restorative, check with your health care practitioner and consider adding magnesium to your daily regime.

References: 1) From Davis’ Wheat Belly Total Health; noted source:T. Bohn et al., “Phytic Acid Added to White-Wheat Bread Inhibits Fractional Apparent Magnesium Absorption in Humans,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79, no.3 (March 2004): 418-23; 2) Steven R. Gundry, M.D. Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, Random House, New York. 2008. Pg 93.

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