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Summary of Magnesium Seminar Jan. 9, 1995


Prof. Ragnar Rylander of Goteborg University, Sweden, was the lead speaker at a seminar on magnesium in Emeryville, Ca., on Jan. 9, 1995. Prof. Rylander is the author of Magnesium And Calcium In Drinking Water And Cardiovascular Mortality, and has written many other papers on magnesium and public health. Prof. Rylander is a consultant to the Swedish government concerning the health impacts of magnesium deficiency and public health policy.

Prof. Rylander has kindly given me permission to summarize my notes on his talk for distribution on the Internet. Prof. Rylander had to catch a plane, so he has not reviewed these notes, and any errors are mine alone. -- Paul Mason

Prof. Rylander began by noting that there is an abundance of literature on the health impacts of hard water, indicating that hard water is healthier than soft water.

Prof. Rylander noted that serum Mg levels have been a poor indicator of intra-cellular Mg levels, and it is the intra-cellular levels that really count. At the moment there is no good indicator of intra-cellular Mg levels.

Mg is involved in 300 enzymes, which gives some indication of its importance.

Intake of Mg is not the same as Uptake. When Mg is ingested with fatty foods, it turns to Mg soaps, and passes through without doing much good; perhaps only 1% is then utilized by the body. Calcium also reduces the body's uptake of Mg.

Mg uptake is increased by protein, sodium, and phosphorus.

Mg deficiency has many clinical symptoms. In muscles the symptoms include weakness, tremor, convulsions, ataxia, nystagmus. In the central nervous system Mg deficiency causes apatia. Mg deficiency in the heart muscle causes tachycardia, fibrillation, arterial hypotension, atherosclerosis, and sudden death. And in the metabolism Mg deficiency causes sensitivity to digitalis and hypocalcemia.

There is an extremely high plausibility of a causal connection between Mg deficiency and heart disease.

Studies in Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden all noted that when the Mg content of drinking water exceeds 10-15 mg/L, the rate of mortality falls in comparison to neighboring communities having lower Mg in drinking water.

Some problems presented by Mg are:

1. Why is Mg in water so critical compared to Mg in food? 2. Why is the Mg relation (mortality) weaker for females than for males? 3. Does Mg protect only people genetically susceptible to Mg deficiency, or is everyone protected? 4. More intervention studies need to be done. The only big one so far for dietary Mg was Dr. R. B. Singh's in Moradabad, India, which for 10 years gave one group 1,142 mg/day while the control group got 418 mg/day. The higher-intake group had a much lower rate of death. Effect Of Dietary Magnesium Supplementation In The Prevention Of Coronary Heart Disease And Sudden Cardiac Death. RB Singh, Magnesium and Trace Elements, 1990;9:143-151.

The data supporting the importance of Mg in preventing heart disease is "quite convincing".

The Mg deficiency problem is as important as the smoking problem.

The case for the Mg deficiency problem is more solid than the case for air pollution as a health problem.

As a public health problem, Mg deficiency should have a "high priority".

Many Thanks to Prof. Rylander for his informative presentation, which may be a first step toward solving the Mg deficiency problem in California.

Paul Mason

This page was first uploaded to The Magnesium Web Site on September 30, 1995