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Magnesium Helps Direct Calcium

Calcium's role in the body is vast: not only is it the main component of healthy bones, but in all its other locations it participates in the proper balance of electrolytes that facilitate communication between cells as well as the production of enzymes, neurotransmitters, and our immune response. But, here's the thing: there are many places you only want calcium as a communicator (living in the body's fluids) and not as the kind of rigid deposit it forms in our bones. You don't want calcium forming deposits in your soft tissues: calcific tendinitis and bone spurs create painful and strength-limiting problems. Even more importantly, you don't want little streaks of calcium lining the blood vessels, especially the ones that keep your heart muscle healthy. Blood vessels must be the opposite of the bone: strong but ultimately supple, not rigid.

A groundbreaking study, described on the Designs for Health website blog here, studied over 30,000 people who underwent very sensitive imaging studies of their heart as well as a serum magnesium calculation. The calcification in the heart's arteries correlated well with low levels of serum magnesium. If your magnesium levels aren't high enough, you are at particular risk for developing what we used to call "hardening of the arteries" around your heart, and therefore at increased risk of heart disease, such as heart attacks.

The article makes two very important observations that bear repeating: over recent decades we have been encouraged to take more calcium!! while our food supply has become deficient in magnesium, leading to widespread magnesium deficiency. Estimates range to over 50% as the proportion of adults currently deficient in magnesium. What we should be doing is avoiding extra calcium, normalizing vitamin D (which enables us to absorb calcium from food) and actually supplementing with magnesium!

The second important point is that regular lab tests do not routinely include magnesium, and often clinicians mistakenly order just "magnesium" in which case the magnesium in the blood or serum is measured. Our body regulates that level of magnesium carefully, if need be sacrificing the far more important stores of magnesium which accumulate in the body's cells, outside of the blood stream. The appropriate measure for your true magnesium level is the level of magnesium in your red blood cells, written as "RBC magnesium." 

So now we add magnesium to vitamin K2 as all-important elements that serve as traffic cops for calcium. Yes, calcium is essential to bone health, but it must be watched carefully: it misbehaves badly when it accumulates in soft tissues and blood vessels!

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