Everything in life is about balance. When we only get one side of the story, we become out of balance and suffer the consequences. This holds true as we look at the relationship between calcium and magnesium. We have been so hung up on “calcium for your bones” for so many years, we have forgotten about, or never even knew about, the importance of magnesium.
The roles of Calcium and Magnesium in bones
Yes, calcium gives bones their strength, but magnesium keeps them flexible. Calcium makes muscles contract and magnesium relaxes them. Calcium thickens the blood; magnesium prevents it from thickening too much. Calcium excites the nerves and magnesium calms the nerves.
Because we have been worrying about getting enough calcium to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis, our western population as a whole has made sure to consume lots of dairy, look for calcium fortified foods, and dedicate to daily calcium supplementation. In this quest, we forgot about magnesium.
Calcium and Magnesium ratios
Some of the most current research indicates that ratios of calcium to magnesium should actually be at least equal, if not a bit higher in magnesium. This is the recommendation for “normal”. Take into consideration that we get a lot of calcium from the ways listed above, and conversely, where the heck are we getting our magnesium?
These days the average intake ratio is so high in calcium that when it becomes backward like this, it makes it really easy for bone loss, blood sugar imbalance, cardiovascular issues, cramps and stress to occur.
Worldwide, where magnesium intake is lowest, osteoporosis is more prevalent. Populations with the strongest bones are not taking in massive amounts of calcium, but always have daily intakes of magnesium that are robust.
Calcium and Magnesium and your health
Keep the word calcification in your mind when you doubt the importance of magnesium. This is the accumulation of calcium salts in any body tissue. This is great if it is IN the bones, but if that accumulation happens in the kidneys, gallbladder, ON bones and joints, or in the vascular system, problems occur. We may know these as kidney and gallstones, bone spurs, tartar on teeth, arthritis, or arteriosclerosis.
In addition to a lack of Magnesium, another part of the problem is the poor quality forms of calcium people take. Many calcium supplements are sourced from rocks, chalk, bone, coral, etc. These are not always necessarily bad sources, but they have to be processed into a form that humans can absorb. We don’t have any enzymes in our digestive system to break down rocks. We should also mention that other nutrients are involved with preventing improper calcification like K2 and D. But this is a post really on the importance of magnesium.
So what do you have to lose? The most common side effect of magnesium supplementation is loose stools. This is usually not a problem if you buy a good form and start slow. The loose stools happen when you take more than you need and that is easily remedied by reducing your dose.
As always, along with everything we talk about on this blog, speak with a qualified health professional regarding your unique needs. If you have kidney disease, magnesium supplements may not be for you.
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