April 26, 2017
Physicians are experts in disease care. We spend hours and hours of our medical training studying all aspects of disease. When the right symptoms present and when the associated tests confirm it — a disease is diagnosed. Treatment plans are developed which usually entail pharmacotherapeutics (drugs), surgery, radiation and other modalities. I like to tell patients — stay healthy and avoid getting a disease. The lack of disease is wellness. Very few of us in medicine actually educate patients about being well and how to maintain health. It takes time and it takes patience. Doctors tend to know very little about vitamins and minerals and how to advise patients about their use.
There is one wellness mineral that I like to introduce to my patients. It is not a drug and it has great benefits when supplemented correctly. It’s Magnesium. I find that very few patients understand its potential benefits and know how to take it.
Here is what we know generally. Most adults, probably about 2/3rds are magnesium deficient. Our standard western diet (SAD) does not provide us with adequate magnesium intake. Use of certain medications like proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, Prilosec, etc) deplete our body stores of magnesium. Heavy intake of sodas and carbonated beverages also depletes our magnesium.
There are specific symptoms and diseases that are really improved with magnesium supplements. They are asthma, hypertension (elevated blood pressure), poor sleep and constipation.
New research is now showing incredible benefits with magnesium supplementation. Having higher levels of magnesium can markedly decrease risk for cardiovascular disease and pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer. The risk of developing type II diabetes is also lower with higher intakes of magnesium.
Optimal magnesium intake daily for men is 420mg and 320mg for women. I do not find lab testing is that helpful and usually I will just ask patients to start a supplement regimen and slowly increase their daily dose until one thing occurs — watery stools. Too much daily magnesium will cause looser stools and when that happens, patients just need to lower their dose slightly.
Magnesium oxide is the least preferred supplement form. I recommend magnesium glycinate or magnesium chelate. I personally have found my dose is 450mg per day. I take 150mg in the morning with breakfast and 300mg at supper. Magnesium like all minerals needs to be taken with food.
Magnesium is the number one supplement for constipation — it works miracles. I have seen countless female patients in the menopause who tell me that regular bowel movements for them can be once weekly! I recommend they eat more fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables and legumes and add magnesium and it works wonders.
Patients already know that magnesium benefits sleep. We know that people who take Epsom Salt baths where they use 1 cup of Epsom salts in the warm bath water will usually sleep soundly. Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate and it is absorbed through the skin. So most of my patients supplementing with magnesium sleep better.
Talk to a wellness expert about taking magnesium and if indicated then start supplementing for your health and wellness. Do not buy a combined calcium-magnesium supplement. Calcium supplements are generally harmful. Magnesium should be taken solely.
Don Fisher D.O.
Medical Director/ Physician
The BEST Program, Inc.