Magnesium Plays Important Role in Fatigue

The metallic element magnesium is important for participating in maintaining proper cell membrane potential. This in turn allows for proper passage of hormones, nutrients, neurotransmitters and other electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride. Hormones involved in transport across the membrane include: insulin, estrogen, testosterone, thyroxine and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is made by the adrenal gland and is a precursor of sex hormones. Magnesium also plays a role in the transport of neurotransmitters like dopamine, catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine), serotonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Magnesium is also an important cofactor that activates certain enzymes important for metabolism. Deficiencies in magnesium causes other minerals such as potassium and calcium to be lost in urine and calcium may be deposited in a number of tissues and organs. Insufficient magnesium contributes to heavy metal build up in the brain and body as well. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: fatigue, nausea and weakness.

Magnesium is an important cofactor aiding in the activation of more than 300 enzymatic reactions and is the most abundant divalent cation in the body. Unfortunately, until more recently, magnesium has been overlooked as being necessary to supplement. Recent studies indicate that magnesium should be used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), angina, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup), arrhythmias, heart attack, mitral valve prolapse, diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome to mention a few.

Since magnesium is found in every cell of the body and important for maintaining membrane potential, a deficiency will essentially affect every tissue and organ of the body. Low magnesium levels in skeletal muscle disturb internal calcium levels making muscle contraction difficult. This in turn produces muscle twitches, cramping (Charlie Horse) and muscle soreness. Magnesium deficiency may also affect smooth muscle associated with blood vessels, bladder, uterus and the gastrointestinal tract. Constipation is often experienced in the intestine and difficulty swallowing. Unusual contraction along the urinary tract are common and uterine menstrual cramps may be experienced. Lack of proper amounts of magnesium in the nervous system produces fluctuation in neuronal cell membrane potentials that alter ion flows through their channels and the release and re-uptake of neurotransmitters.

Symptoms often associated with low levels of magnesium include: sleeplessness, anxiety, hyperactivity, restless leg syndrome, panic attacks, numbness, tingling, and agoraphobia. Individuals often experience carbohydrate, salt and chocolate cravings. All of these symptoms may bring about severe fatigue, general overall weakness and stomach upset. Take a look at the picture at the beginning of this paragraph. Just pay attention to calcium, sodium and potassium ions and ignore the binding sites on the channel itself and barbituate (for people with anxiety) This is a channel in a neuron that is activated by the transmitters glutamate/aspartate. Notice that magnesium is sitting in the channel effectively blocking it preventing the flow of potassium, calcium and sodium. This is one example of how magnesium has control over membrane potential.

Let’s take a look at chelates in general. Chelates come in three different forms all of which the body uses to some extent but some more than others. The three chelate forms are salt, organic and amino acid chelates and are readily available in supplemental form. For example, potassium comes as potassium chloride (salt chelate), potassium gluconate (organic chelate) and potassium aspartate (amino acid chelate). It is best to take a supplement that has all three forms however, the salt and gluconate forms are sufficient. This is also true of magnesium. Many foods contain a number of mineral chelates and it is important to take in a lot of different vegetables and fruits to support your needs. Insufficient amounts of potassium and magnesium can easily generate syncope. Syncope is a loss of consciousness, faint feeling and general weakness and you end up collapsing. It can be difficult to diagnose a magnesium deficiency because most of your magnesium is inside your cells and not in blood. So, a blood sample may not be enlightening. However, to see how magnesium levels have fluctuated in you body over time, hair samples can be collected and analyzed. Your hair holds a magnesium record that can help determine if you have a long-term problem.

Magnesium is crucial for maintaining membrane potential that is important for import and export of hormones, other electrolytes (calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride etc.) and neurotransmitters. A deficiency causes problems for every tissue and organ in the body all of which manifest themselves in chronic fatigue, general weakness and nausea.