Food, magnesium, Vitamin K2 and D3 - the balance for health

Food and Magnesium – some simple truths

  • An estimated 80 percent of any western population is deficient in magnesium. The health consequences of deficiency can be quite significant, and can be aggravated by many, if not most, drug treatments. Difficult to measure with a blood test, it is however possible to see a snapshot of 8 weeks of your current magnesium levels through Hair Mineral analysis
  • Magnesium performs a wide array of biological functions, including activating muscles and nerves and creating energy in your body by attaching adenosine triphosphate (ATP); also the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function all depend upon good levels of magnesium.
  • Magnesium is very important for heart health. Excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death. Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure as well.
  • An ideal ratio between calcium and magnesium is thought to be 1:1. The recommended daily dose is around 700 milligrams of each
  • One of the best ways to optimize your magnesium level is by consuming plenty of organic green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Foods with exceptionally high magnesium content include seaweed, coriander, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened cocoa powder, and almond butter
  • If you take a magnesium supplement, you also need to pay attention to your ratios of calcium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D, as these nutrients work together synergistically
  • Magnesium also plays a role in your body's detoxification processes and therefore is important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins. Even glutathione, your body's most powerful antioxidant that has even been called "the master antioxidant," requires magnesium for its synthesis.

The above bullet points sets out the basics about magnesium. This article will now set out some of the details. Here are some early signs of magnesium deficiency to watch for: loss of appetite, headaches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Later this can manifest as numbness and tingling, muscle contractions and cramp (think IBS) seizures, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, personality changes (anxiety and despair being the most common)

If you suspect you are low in magnesium one of the best ways to consume this mineral is through organically bound magnesium, found in whole foods. As explained in the featured article:

"Chlorophyll, which enables plants to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy, has a magnesium atom at its center. Without magnesium, in fact, plants could not utilize the sun's light energy. "

In many ways chlorophyll is the plant's version of our blood and hemoglobin. They share a similar structure but have magnesium plugged in the middle rather than iron. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source.  Blending vegetables (rather than juicing which takes out the fiber) is an excellent option to ensure you're getting enough of them in your diet.

Eating a varied, whole-food diet is of vital importance. (I have a beginner’s nutrition plan which I shall introduce in a later document). There are other factors too, that can make you more prone to magnesium deficiency, including the ailments listed below. If any of these conditions apply to you, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure you're getting a sufficient amount of magnesium in your diet, or, if needed, from a magnesium supplement, in order to avoid magnesium deficiency.

An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.)

Alcoholism -- up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium4

                                                                                    Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine

Age -- older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption

Diabetes, especially if it's poorly controlled, leading increased magnesium loss in urine

Certain medications -- diuretics, antibiotics and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency

Foods with the Highest Amounts of Magnesium

Most people can keep their levels in the healthy range without resorting to supplements, simply by eating a varied diet, including plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. One important point to mention though is that the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they're grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium instead of magnesium.

Seaweed, agar, dried (770 mg)

Spices, basil, dried (422 mg)

Spice, coriander leaf, dried (694 mg)

Flaxseed (392 mg)

Dried pumpkin seeds (535 mg)

Almond butter (303 mg)

Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened (499 mg)

Whey, sweet, dried (176 mg)

Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

If for whatever reason you decide you need a supplement, be aware that there are a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market because magnesium must be bound to another substance to be absorbable. It’s not possible to have a 100% magnesium supplement. The substance used in supplement combination can affect the absorption and bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits:

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency. Best for anxiety, insomnia and mood disorders including OCD.

Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium, and has stool softening properties. Difficult to absorb compared to some other chelates although recent studies suggest it is superior to magnesium citrate both for bio-availability and clinical benefits. Magnesium citrate also has laxative properties.

Magnesium chloride / Magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium

Magnesium sulfate / Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it's easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed

Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium

Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind plus a hypertensive or blood pressure lowering effect. Low magnesium status impairs the release of nitric oxide resulting in vasoconstriction. Taking this opens the deliver of blood to all parts of the body.

Magnesium malate is malic acid bound to magnesium and is an intermediary in the Krebs cycle involved in energy production. It improves energy production and helps with lactic acid relief for athletes.  

Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane, and may be the best magnesium supplement on the market

Balance Your Magnesium with Calcium, Vitamin K2 and D

One of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole food diet is that you're far less likely to end up with too much of one nutrient at the expense of others. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper amounts for optimal health, which takes out the guess work. When you're using supplements, you need to become a bit more savvy about how nutrients influence and synergistically affect each other.

For example, it's important to maintain the proper balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity.

Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you're K2 deficient, added calcium can cause problems by accumulating in the wrong places instead of being laid down into bones. Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 can lead to vitamin D toxicity symptoms, which includes inappropriate calcification. A thorough knowledge of supplementation is essential to avoiding the pitfalls which is why I do not recommend casual shopping in places like Health Food shops.

While the ideal or optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be elucidated, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue (search for her on line for more information) suggests that for every 1,000 IU's of vitamin D you take, you may benefit from about 100 micrograms of K2, and perhaps as much as 150-200 micrograms (mcg). The latest vitamin D dosing recommendations, which call for about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D3 per day if you're an adult, means you'd need in the neighborhood of 800 to 1,000 micrograms (0.8 to 1 milligram/mg) of vitamin K2.

Magnesium may actually be more important than calcium if you are going to consider supplementing. However, maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio is important regardless. Research on the paleolithic or caveman diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet that our bodies’ evolved to eat is 1-to-1.. Americans in general tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.

Magnesium will also help keep calcium in your cells so they can do their job better. In many ways it serves as nutritional version of the highly effective class of drugs called calcium channel blockers, used in the treatment of high blood pressure, angina, and abnormal heart rhythms. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

If you're taking any of the following: magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3 or vitamin K2, you need to take all the others into consideration as well, since these all work synergistically with each other.

The above clearly indicates why I undertake a Hair Mineral Analysis with each patient even though I suspect the person may have a chronic magnesium deficiency  Telephone 07599 520406 and ask to speak to Cynthia Sillars for more information and to make an appointment.

Vitamin K2 is found in sauerkraut and is beneficial in many co-factors. K2s role in the body extends far beyond blood clotting and includes protection from heart disease, ensuring healthy skin, forming strong bones, promoting brain fuction, supporting growth and development and helping to prevent cancer, to name but a few benefits.