Are Patients too Impatient to Understand the Real Cause of Their Problems?
Not many doctors are keen to tell their patients the whole truth about how and why people become insulin resistant. Today's patients are usually in a hurry to get a professional diagnosis and take prescribed medications. They don't really care about the causes of the problem, even if it affects their heart - providing their medical aid covers the expenses. This is how the magnesium deficiency came to be ignored. According to a number of leading researchers, the first thing to treat in the case of insulin resistance is the magnesium deficiency. If this is not attended to, the body begins to retain sodium and flush out the dwindling magnesium reserves.
The underlying cause of the two most common health problems we have, namely diabetes and cardiovascular disease are primarily due to basic mineral imbalances. Magnesium in particular is overlooked by doctors who immediately prescribe drugs like Metformin or Glucophage to lower their patient’s blood sugar levels. Statin drugs with dangerous side effects are used to “control” cholesterol that is also due to a magnesium deficiency. The drugs that are given to control blood pressure that is directly connected to a magnesium deficiency are automatically being prescribed and they have a number of can have dangerous and unpleasant side effects. As a result of not attending to the magnesium deficiency, calcium begins to accumulate in the soft tissues, especially inside the arteries. (We call it atherosclerosis, but it is basically another magnesium deficiency). Kidney stones also begin to develop as a direct result of a magnesium deficiency. The easiest way to get enough magnesium is to eat a lot of leafy green vegetables or to take a simple mineral supplement.Credit: Sue Visser
High Blood Pressure Can be Caused by a Magnesium Deficiency
We often assume that high blood pressure is immediately a reason to rush off to a cardiologist. Before you do, investigate insulin resistance because high blood pressure is an early symptom, a warning that there is a severe magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is required to enable insulin to process glucose and carbohydrates. Even before high blood sugar levels are detected, blood pressure rises because they are both precursors to syndrome X or insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance makes one retain sodium which inhibits the uptake of magnesium, the mineral that keeps blood vessels relaxed and flexible. As a result, magnesium is excreted by the kidneys. Levels of insulin as well as fat increase. If the intake of fructose is too high, more uric acid is formed. Uric acid blocks the relaxing effect that nitric acid has on blood vessels. Vitamin B 3 is required to activate it but high blood sugar levels block the action of all our B vitamins which protect our blood vessels. These include vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid and are needed to control homocysteine.
Without foods that supply the raw materials required for insulin function such as magnesium, chromium, zinc and vanadium, insulin resistance sets in. Medications given to treat high blood pressure need to be justified in such cases. They do not supply the nutrients we need to support insulin sensitivity. They don't supply nutrients for keeping normal blood pressure within healthy limits namely magnesium, potassium and Omega 3.
We Are Unaware of The Role Magnesium Plays in Insulin Resistance
1 Doctors diagnose you as pre-diabetic and immediately give you medications to lower blood sugar. If they checked your magnesium levels it would be obvious enough that you need magnesium, not medications to correct the insulin resistance. A change of diet is the other obvious choice, to include plenty of natural sources of magnesium such as dark green leafy vegetables that are also rich in chlorophyll. The balance of calcium to magnesium is critical for the control of glucose and insulin sensitivity. People who are insulin resistant lose magnesium because it is excreted by the kidneys instead of being returned to the bloodstream.
2 The next routine blood test most doctors do is to check the cholesterol profile. The “bad” LDL or low density lipids are out of control when you are deficient in magnesium. Without adequate magnesium it is impossible to raise the “good” HDL or high density lipids. But you are generally given drugs called statins (not magnesium) to lower the triglycerides. Their side effects can cause dementia and they deplete levels of valuable antioxidants like Co- enzyme Q10.
3 On the same visit, doctors usually notice a rise in blood pressure if you have symptoms of insulin resistance (magnesium deficiency.) So instead of checking the magnesium levels and wondering what causes the blood vessels to constrict, they take their pick from a bunch of drugs that are used to control blood pressure. Some of them have grim side effects and none of them correct the magnesium deficiency. At best, the beta blockers try to stop you from getting tense.
4 Some people may consult practitioners of alternative health and if they are fortunate enough, they will first be given an adequate supply of magnesium and a chance to rectify the cavalcade of mishaps that can lead one into the trap of instigating diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
5 Unfortunately not many doctors of Integrative Health are aware of the primary link between insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. Too many of them prefer to focus on the resultant inflammation, high levels of homocysteine, chaotic lipoprotein profiles and high blood sugar levels. These are important to address but only as effects of a magnesium deficiency.
It is Important to First Check the Magnesium Levels
“We begin to understand the intimate connection between diabetes and heart disease when we look at the closed loop between declining magnesium levels and declining insulin efficiency. (Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P)
Insulin resistance is associated with a lower serum (blood) magnesium concentration. Most of the magnesium is recycled from the kidneys, so it is better to check the urine for higher than usual magnesium level, especially after the patient ingests a trial amount of glucose. This will immediately show the magnesium excretion. The blood will then also indicate higher than usual sodium levels. The first time a young woman experiences menstrual cramps she is displaying a magnesium deficiency. She is given painkillers and becomes dependent on drugs to alleviate what are symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an important co factor for enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium replacement and maintaining its supply can markedly reduce cramps; improve insulin sensitivity and reduce triglyceride (bad cholesterol) levels.
Insulin plays a central role in storing magnesium but if our cells become resistant to insulin or if we do not produce enough insulin the magnesium leaves the cells and it gets excreted in our urine. (A simple urine test will indicate that this may be the case – a magnesium wasting disease). Insulin resistance and magnesium depletion result in a vicious cycle of worsening insulin resistance and a steady decrease in intracellular magnesium.
What Causes Magnesium Depletion?
The main culprits are prescription medications such as diuretics, antibiotics, painkillers and cortisone, which can deplete magnesium levels in the body by impairing absorption or by increasing excretion by the kidneys.
Caffeine also causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium. Caffeine is present in tea, coffee, some medications, tonics and caffeinated beverages.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetics have an increased rate of magnesium excretion and sodium retention as a consequence of general kidney dysfunction. Studies using the magnesium loading test have further confirmed magnesium deficiency in diabetes. Magnesium depletion is due to increased magnesium excretion as well as a lack of potassium.
Magnesium affects glucose homeostasis by influencing insulin secretion as well as glucose uptake by cells. Magnesium deficiency inhibits the acute phase of insulin release in response to a glucose challenge. Magnesium also plays a role in glucose disposal and/or insulin sensitivity, and magnesium deficiency is associated with insulin resistance.
Magnesium prevents calcium from accumulating in soft tissue and ensures that it connects to a transporter protein (called chelation) and latches back onto your bones. . The inorganic structure of bone resembles the crystalline mineral called apatite. It is composed of calcium phosphate, combined with magnesium, silica, sodium, potassium, chlorine and fluorine with bicarbonate, citrate and water. This porous section of the bone has to bond with the organic structure known as collagen tissue to give the bone strength and flexibility. The bonding of these two materials can only occur within a chemically created electrical field for which the presence of copper is critical.Credit: Sue Visser
Calcium and Magnesium Carry Out over 300 Metabolic Functions
The most abundant mineral in our body is calcium and it depends on magnesium at a 3:1 ratio to maintain key metabolic functions concerning pH control throughout the body. Our bones weigh about 2 kg and 99% of the calcium is deposited in them. As little as 200 mg of our calcium is circulated in the bloodstream at any given time. Without this critical amount serious problems can occur. So the bones act as a backup system to keep our vital organs functioning. Bone density has to be sacrificed when the blood becomes acidic (below a pH of 7.4) if calcium, magnesium and other alkalizing minerals are not being supplied at a sufficient level. Minerals that circulate around the heart have a critical ratio of calcium to magnesium and sodium to potassium for regulating the heartbeat. Calcium and magnesium are vital to the metabolism of every living cell and we need both of them to enable the heart muscle to contract and to relax rhythmically.
The body can only absorb 20% of the calcium you consume so it is better to have it in small quantities throughout the day. The easiest way to do this is by drinking it in your daily water, fruit juices or sports drinks. We also need calcium before bedtime as most of the “reject” calcium is excreted at night.
Controlling Blood Pressure Without Medications
The most common deficiencies that cause high blood pressure are magnesium, potassium and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Insulin resistance blocks the uptake of magnesium and prevents the excretion of sodium. A lack of magnesium is one of the primary causes of high blood pressure. When we become dehydrated (neglect our water intake) high sodium and sugar levels increase the blood pressure. Magnesium acts like a calcium channel blocker to stabilize the contractions (constriction) of heart muscle and vascular membranes. Magnesium supplementation can lower blood pressure by at least 10 %. It also helps to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. (300 mg of magnesium chloride a day is the suggested dosage.) Naturopaths often use magnesium to treat heart problems, especially ones that require the heart muscles and blood vessels to relax and contract rhythmically. Most of our magnesium is found in the heart and especially in the left ventricle. (It is worth considering a magnesium supplement in preference to a calcium channel inhibitor. The side effect of these drugs include cancer.)
A teaspoon of a powdered mineral supplement mixed with a little water once or twice a day is what the average person needs to replace mineral loss and build up bone tissue as well as supply calcium and magnesium and trace elements for over 300 enzyme-based processes that take place on a continuous basis. People who suffer from routine constipation are surprised at how a little magnesium "sets them free". Even a teaspoon of Epsom salts was once considered to be the best way to relieve constipation in the good old days.
Minerals are hard to obtain from food today, especially with our bad eating habits! When you take a calcium and magnesium supplement, some results begin to show almost immediately: stronger, harder finger nails, no more cramps and a good peaceful night's sleep. There should be an improvement in insulin sensitivity and a drop in blood pressure the next time you have a medical check-up. The cholesterol profile will improve, especially if you pay more attention to your diet.
Adequate magnesium will help to lower excessive blood sugar levels because insulin needs to be chemically bonded to cell receptors with the help of magnesium. Over time bone density will steadily increase once the body begins to heal itself. A pleasant way to absorb more magnesium is with a good old-fashioned soak in a hot tub. A tub full of hot water and a few cups of Epsom Salts. What a lovely way to alleviate cramps – and improve insulin sensitivity!
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