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The Most Important Supplement

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It’s magnesium. In fact, if you wake up one morning and say, “I’m not taking another supplement in my life” (not that I’m recommending this), don’t toss your magnesium.

Most experts in clinical nutrition believe that when it comes to magnesium, we’re all seriously depleted. This has occurred because our food and soil have changed: vegetables, once our major magnesium source, now grow in soil that has less magnesium than it did a few decades ago.

It’s difficult to measure magnesium in your body. Blood sugar or cholesterol levels are easy to measure because they’re found in the liquid component of blood (serum), but most of your body’s magnesium is in your cells and inaccessible to convenient testing.

Magnesium is involved in so many functions that a shortage of it can cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated problems and symptoms. Magnesium is an important part of more than 350 chemical reactions and is needed for, among other things:
• Energy and metabolism
• Nerve transmission and muscle relaxation
• Manufacture of bones and teeth
• Protein synthesis
• Detoxification
• Creating neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain)
• Temperature regulation

Alan Gaby, MD, the physician who taught nutritional medicine to thousands of doctors through his books and seminars, was so impressed by the variety of symptoms caused by magnesium deficiency–and by the number of illnesses prevented by regular use of magnesium supplements–that he wrote an entire book on the subject.

Magnesium has not gone out of print since it appeared in 1994.

Here’s a very abbreviated list of conditions for which I prescribe magnesium:
• Heart arrhythmias, angina, high blood pressure
• Asthma, hyperventilation, and shortness of breath
• Fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and migraine headaches
• Osteopenia (early osteoporosis) and osteoporosis
• Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation
• Chronic fatigue syndrome, poor focus, and concentration
• Raynaud’s syndrome (tingling in hands and feet, sense of feeling cold)
• Menstrual cramps and PMS
• Muscle twitching and tics
• Mitral valve prolapse
• Anxiety and panic disorders

Each of these conditions, Dr. Gaby points out, has increased in frequency during the past few decades, in direct correlation to the decline of magnesium in our diets and falling levels of magnesium in our bodies.

You need at least 800 mg of magnesium per day. For best absorption, I recommend magnesium glycinate, inexpensive and easy dosing. If you’re using magnesium for chronic constipation, the best choice is magnesium citrate.

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