(NaturalNews) For years, the medical establishment has recommended that aging folks supplement with calcium to maintain strong bones and avoid developing osteoporosis. And more recently, science has revealed vitamin D as a necessary nutrient co-factor in the proper absorption of calcium. But millions of people are still grossly deficient in magnesium, an important mineral compound that Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., says is absolutely vital for maintaining proper bone health.
In a piece published earlier this year by The Huffington Post, Dr. Dean explains why a lack of magnesium, rather than a lack of calcium, is often the true culprit in age-related bone loss and other chronic health problems. So little is said about the importance of magnesium by the mainstream media, in fact, that most people have no idea that they are probably not taking in enough magnesium on a daily basis to stay healthy.
According to Dr. Dean, magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the human body, as more than 325 different enzyme systems depend on it in order to function properly. As it turns out, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body overall, and roughly half of this total body magnesium resides in human bones. This means that elemental magnesium is just as important as calcium when it comes to bone health, if not more important.
In order for calcium to properly assimilate into the human bone structure, a proper balance of both vitamin D and magnesium is essential. If either one of these critical calcium co-factors is lacking or altogether missing, calcium alone can actually lead to long-term health problems, including the eventual calcification of the kidneys, artery walls, gall bladder, muscles, breasts and various other soft tissues throughout the body, which in turn results in chronic disease.
"Most people think that calcium is the most important factor in bone health," writes Dr. Dean. "Some are now realizing that vitamin D is also a necessary component. However, it's not well known that magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can turn on calcium absorption."
Too much vitamin D with not enough magnesium can create more magnesium deficiency
On the same token, taking too much vitamin D apart from magnesium can also cause problems. According to extensive research conducted by Dr. Dean, the enzymes that metabolize the vitamin D hormone in your body also require magnesium in order to perform this important function. Without enough magnesium, vitamin D, especially when taken in high doses, can actually rob your body of any remaining magnesium and cause even worse deficiency.
"When you take high doses of vitamin D and if you are already low in magnesium, the increased amount of metabolic work drains magnesium from its muscle storage sites," adds Dr. Dean. "That's probably why muscles are the first to suffer magnesium deficiency symptoms -- twitching, leg cramps, restless legs and charlie horses. Angina and even heart attacks affecting the heart muscle are all magnesium deficiency symptoms."
Dr. Dean suggests taking 600 milligrams (mg) daily of elemental magnesium -- leafy greens, nuts, seeds and bananas are excellent food-based sources of magnesium -- in conjunction with between 1,000-2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3. If your daily vitamin D intake from supplements and/or natural sunlight is higher, you may wish to take in even higher levels of magnesium to achieve a healthy balance.
"What I do for my mineral balance is exercise daily; eat lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds; (and) take a magnesium supplement," concludes Dr. Dean. "And for my other important minerals, I take an eighth of a teaspoon of sea salt in each pint of water that I drink."
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