Magnesium Deficiency, Symptoms, Benefits, Supplements - Page 2

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Magnesium Deficiency, Symptoms, Benefits, Supplements - Page 2
Reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of the Life Extension Foundation

Magnesium is crucial for maintaining arterial health, normal blood pressure, and normal heart rhythm.  In addition, there is strong evidence that magnesium (along with feverfew, butterbur and Vitamin B2) is an important nutrient in dealing with headaches and/or migraines.  Also, scientific evidence shows an important relationship between magnesium deficiency and Pre-Menstrual syndrome (PMS).

Blood Flow
Magnesium helps muscles, including those surrounding arteries, to relax, and this may be why a deficiency of this mineral is linked to headaches and/or migraines.  Researchers have learned that some of the same things that deplete our bodies supply of magnesium - including stress, alcohol, and pregnancy - can trigger pain in susceptible people.

Bound and Free
While magnesium may help, not just any kind of magnesium will do.  The two forms of magnesium that circulate in the blood are bound and free.  The bound form is tied to other substances and is relatively inactive.

The free form is not bound to other substances and remains active, a characteristic that researchers believe enables it to counteract ill side effects in various ways.

Up to half of the people who suffer from head pain are deficient in the free and active form of magnesium, which is known as serum ionized magnesium.4  If free magnesium levels fall too low, the vessels supplying blood to the head area may clamp down inappropriately, hindering blood flow to the head.  These vessels may become stuck in the contracted state, leaving the pain switch jammed in the on position.  Inflammatory substances may be released that heighten pain sensations.

Measuring Magnesium
Through the 1990s, the relationship between
headaches/migraines and magnesium was unclear.  This confusion was due to problems involved in measuring magnesium.

Researchers were able to measure only the total magnesium in the blood and not the free-form.  When a technique for measuring free magnesium was finally developed, it became clear that a deficiency in free magnesium was a definite risk factor.

In 1993, two different studies were performed by Alexander Mauskop, MD, one of the nations leading authorities and author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You.5,6  Mauskop and his team found that people in the throes of a head pain had lower levels of free magnesium in their blood.

Their next step was to determine whether replacing the missing magnesium would lessen the pain.  In 1995, Mauskop and his colleagues gave intravenous injections of magnesium to patients who were in the throes of pain and also had low levels of free magnesium.7  The magnesium injections lessened the pain, sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.  Mauskop found that the lower the initial level of free magnesium in migraine sufferers, the more substantial and long lasting was the relief offered by the injections.  The following year, Mauskop published a study reporting equally good results among 40 people.8

After learning that an intravenous infusion of magnesium could lessen pain in progress, researchers wondered whether taking daily magnesium supplements could keep head pain from striking in the first place.  German researchers addressed that question in a study of 81 subjects.9  The volunteers in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, suffered from various head pain for an average of 3.6 times each month.  For 12 weeks, half of the subjects were given 600 mg of elemental magnesium daily, while the other half received a placebo.

Encouraging Results
Among those taking magnesium, the number of medications required dropped significantly.  An earlier Italian study performed exclusively on women suffering from menstrual pain also found that magnesium supplementation could support issues associated with
Pre-Menstrual syndrome (PMS).10

Dr. Mauskop agreed that magnesium supplements could indeed help with pain, noting, a trial of oral magnesium supplementation may be recommended to a majority of sufferers of headaches and/or migraines.4

Deficiencies of magnesium are widespread and significant percentage of Americans suffer from chronic magnesium deficiency.11  Even minor magnesium deficiencies may be enough to trigger pain in susceptible people.  A daily dose of 300-800 mg of elemental magnesium appears to be effective for most people.  Most informed health experts recommend splitting the dose by taking each half with one meal early in the day and the other half later on in the same day.

Alexander Mauskop, MD, Discusses Supplements
As a physician, I've been particularly impressed by the efficacy of
elemental magnesium which I have been researching for the past 12 years.  At least, fifty percent of people are deficient in elemental magnesium and can enjoy dramatic improvement if they supplement their diet with this mineral.  I know they can, because I've seen it happen over and over again.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Dr. Mauskop continues, Although the results with riboflavin (Vitamin B2) alone are not as impressive as those seen with magnesium, the combination of the vitamin and the mineral is potentially strong.  You need to take megadoses of riboflavin, 400 mg, and should be prepared to wait two to three months to enjoy the benefits.

Feverfew and Butterbur
Dr. Mauskop adds, Feverfew has been tested in five double-blind studies.  There is a clear trend showing that it is better than a placebo which means it has definite benefits.  As for butterbur, one of the two major studies on the butterbur root extract was centered here at my New York Center.  The test showed that it was much more effective than a placebo.  We can always use more studies, but its safe to say that a large percentage of sufferers can be helped by supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin, feverfew, and butterbur.

Alexander Mauskop, MD, is one of the nations leading authorities.  A neurologist with 20 years experience treating patients, Dr. Mauskop is director of his New York Center, and an associate professor of neurology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.

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