Reduce Leg Cramps, Hypertension and Diabetes

6 December, 2011 at 07:44 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food | 1 Comment
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On Health with Dr. W. Gifford JonesBy W. Gifford-Jones, M.D.

“Doctor, am I taking enough or too much calcium?” It’s a question I’m often asked by patients. But I can’t recall a single instance when a patient has asked the same question about magnesium.

It’s ironic, as studies show that many North Americans are not obtaining sufficient amounts of this important mineral. In some cases this can be a fatal error. Now there’s a simple, natural way to prevent this.

Calcium has always enjoyed star status for good reason. Without sufficient calcium, bones develop osteoporosis, and a minor fall, or a big hug, can snap a bone. But few realize that magnesium is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

For instance, a magnesium deficiency can result in hypertension, muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, diabetes, migraine attacks, emotional trouble, fatigue, and an irregular heart rate.Magnesium is nature’s natural muscle relaxant, but this fact went unnoticed for years.

Magnesium is nature’s natural muscle relaxant, but this fact went unnoticed for years. Then in 1979, Dr. J. R. Chipperfield reported in the British Journal Lancet that patients who suffered from angina often had low blood levels of magnesium, and that by prescribing this mineral, the spasm of coronary arteries and pain could be eased.

This important finding helps to prevent heart disease, man’s No. 1 killer. But in addition to expanding coronary arteries, magnesium adds oil to the circulation, preventing platelets (small particles in the blood) from clotting, and sudden death.

Magnesium plays another vital role. Each beat of the heart is controlled by an extremely complex electrical system. Low blood magnesium can toss a monkey wrench into this process, triggering an irregular heart rate called auricular fibrillation. In extreme cases, this can result in ventricular fibrillation and death.

Whether or not you die from a heart attack depends on several factors such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and blood cholesterol. But one dilemma, which has been difficult to explain, is why 50 percent of people who die from coronary attack have normal blood cholesterol. Low blood magnesium may be a factor.

The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) showed that this major killer could also be calmed by a diet high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. In another study of 30,000 male health professionals, it was found that the incidence of hypertension was less in those who had a greater intake of magnesium.

A deficiency of magnesium is also fueling the epidemic of diabetes. A report from the University of Virginia showed that a low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased insulin resistance.

In this study, patients were placed on a diet deficient in magnesium for a mere three weeks. Researchers found that, not only did the cells become lacking in magnesium, but also insulin became less efficient in transporting sugar (glucose) from the blood into cells.

Since 1976, Harvard University has carried out a huge study called the “The Nurses Health Study.” During this time, researchers followed 85,000 nurses and 43,000 men. They discovered that nurses who consumed 220 milligrams (mg) of magnesium daily were 33 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those consuming 340 mg of magnesium each day.

So how can you get 350 mg of magnesium daily?

A good start would be the following:
• One baked potato with skin (55 mg)
• One-half ounce of almonds (43 mg)
• One shredded wheat biscuit (40 mg)
• One cup of plain low fat yogurt (43 mg)
• One-half cup of brown rice (42 mg)
• One banana (32 mg)
• Three-ounces of grilled salmon (23 mg)
• One slice of whole wheat bread (24 mg)
• Fruits and vegetables, of course.

Since most people don’t consume 350 mg of magnesium daily, it’s important to use magnesium supplements. Tablets and capsules are available from a number of companies.

Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is He may be contacted at

via Reduce Leg Cramps, Hypertension, and Diabetes | Nutrition | Health | Epoch Times

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1 Comment »

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  1. Great info Doc!

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