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The metal magnesium cannot be synthesized by the body, but is present in every cell of every living organism. It is abundant in the earth’s crust and is absorbed by plants that pass the mineral up through the food chain.

• More than 45% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. ( Are you one? Get your magnesium level measured.

• Long-term Mg deficiencies are associated with higher rates of many age-related diseases but the short-term symptoms (physical weakness, lack of energy, sleep disorders, hyper-emotionality and cognitive disorders) may be attributed to normal aging and thus can be overlooked. The trend toward hypomagnesemia (insufficiency or deficiency) is worsened by age-related changes in magnesium intake, intestinal absorption and wasting of magnesium by your kidney, resulting in accelerated aging.

• Unless someone is taking extreme amounts of Mg in supplement form, hypermagnesemia (excess Mg > 1.1 mmol/l) is normally not an issue in healthy people.

• Normal magnesium levels may contribute to better muscle and lung function and better bone strength (fewer fractures), mental health; and less type 2 diabetes, telomere disruption, and cognitive decline with aging. A study of more than 1,000 Japanese participants over 60 years old and followed for 17 years found that those with higher Mg intake had 37% lower risk of developing any type of dementia and 74% less chance of developing vascular dementia.

A short-term (12 weeks) randomized controlled trial suggested that Mg may help in improving cognitive abilities in elderly subjects with memory complaints (160). Long-term prospective randomized clinical trials with Mg supplementation are needed to confirm if Mg-rich diets may help in preventing dementia and/or cognitive impairment.

• Multiple studies demonstrate that low serum Mg levels are strongly associated with increased all-cause mortality. In a German population study of 4,203 subjects followed for approximately 10 years, death rates in subjects with serum Mg ≤0.73 mmol/l (1.78mg/dL) were significantly and dramatically higher for all-cause deaths (10.95 death per 1,000 person years), and cardiovascular deaths (3.44 deaths per 1,000 person years) in comparison to subjects with higher serum Mg concentrations (1.45 deaths from all-cause per 1,000 person years, 1.53 deaths from cardiovascular cause per 1,000 person years). Who knew?

From the above, I concluded that I should:

• Enjoy more foods, such as (unsalted) pumpkin seeds (168 mg/1 oz serving), almonds (80 mg), cashews (74 mg), peanuts (63 mg), spinach (78 mg), avocados (44 mg/ cup), black beans (60 mg), edamame (50 mg/ 1/2 cup), whole peanut butter (50 mg /2 Tbls), salmon (34 mg/4 oz) and dark chocolate (50 mg/ oz) that are rich in magnesium and love my (your) body back.

• Get my (your) serum magnesium level measured once a year, and take a supplement (400 mg a day for men and women) if less than 0.85mMol/L or 2.1 mg/dL, and you have normal kidney function and take it at a time different from certain drugs like antibiotics.

Getting your magnesium level to greater than 0.85 mMol/L or 2.1 mg/dL will do what we call slowing of aging: rejuvenation. When cells replace themselves, they copy the errors they have accumulated. Slowing aging by rejuvenation makes you slow your rate of aging by your cells copying cells younger than those of your high school classmates.

Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland and Columbus Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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