Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
October 18, 2014
One of the contraindications for taking magnesium is kidney failure, which means the patient is on kidney dialysis. That’s because when you are not able to urinate, your kidneys can no longer eliminate excess minerals, like magnesium, which can build up in your body.
Unfortunately the public, and many doctors think that if you have any kind of kidney disease you should avoid magnesium. That’s just not true, even the National Kidney Foundation does not tell you to limit your magnesium intake if you have kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease has become so common that it has its own initials (CKD) and it develops into MBD (Mineral & Bone Disorder).Modern medicine says CKD is epidemic because of obesity, hypertension, smoking, and lipid disorders but they admit they really don’t know exactly what’s causing it. The lab findings are: elevated serum phosphorus, elevated serum calcium, elevated PTH, and elevated FGF-23 (Fibroblast Growth Factor). CKD develops as the kidneys slow down their filtration of urine and hold onto calcium and phosphorous.
Even though medical texts say that calcium and magnesium compete with each other, and an excess of one can lead to excretion of the other, there was absolutely no mention of magnesium in the discussion of CKD. Because if calcium levels are high, then magnesium levels are going to be low.
What if the excess calcium and phosphorus come first and they cause kidney damage? Holding onto calcium is something the body does naturally. Whereas, magnesium is flushed out through the urine or bowels when the body is under stress or in at times when you have saturated yourself with magnesium. The likely reason is that early mankind lived near oceans with access to fish, seaweeds and thus plenty of magnesium, but with few calcium sources, like dairy and green leafy vegetables. Ocean water has three times more magnesium than calcium and twice more magnesium than phosphorus. Therefore enhancing calcium absorption and preventing magnesium excess were survival mechanisms that were encoded in our wiring millennia ago. Current promotion of calcium as supplements and fortified foods makes us a very calcified population.
This is what happens biochemically in CKD. It’s probably more information than you want but it helps explain why magnesium is necessary in CKD. Elevated calcium and phosphorous trigger an alarm in the endocrine system that responds by trying to keep calcium and phosphate serum concentrations in balance. Parathyroid hormone is increased to meet this challenge. However, elevated PTH, even though it does decrease phosphorous, also increases calcium. With CKD, vitamin D3 made in the kidneys, will decline, and that will decrease calcium. So there is a great push and pull in the midst of all these balancing mechanisms. As kidney disease progresses, the rise in serum calcium and phosphate and the decline in magnesium leads to calcification in soft tissues, particularly in blood vessels.
Since too much calcium will deplete magnesium, my first thought would be to treat CKD with magnesium, which would naturally diminish calcium and phosphorus. Since magnesium is required by about 700-800 enzymes systems in the body, you can be sure it’s required by the kidneys. Magnesium also has about 4,000 receptor sites on body proteins. However, as I mentioned above, doctors have been conditioned to avoid magnesium in kidney disease.
The medical treatment of CKD is focused on attacking phosphorous. They use calcium-based phosphate binders even while acknowledging that these drugs can cause hypercalcemia. Some doctors want to begin using these drugs in early CKD as a “preventive” measure. In their zeal to lower phosphorous, they allow calcium levels to rise – and still, they pay no attention to magnesium. Their second treatment is based on vitamin D3,which increases calcium absorption and decreases secretion of PTH. Both these therapies reduce magnesium levels.
Modern Medicine is also all agog about the newly-discovered hormone that regulates phosphate. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF-23) acts on the kidney in two ways. It causes the kidney to excrete phosphate bringing those levels down and it regulates vitamin D3 production, which adjusts phosphate absorption. Here again, they don’t mention that vitamin D3is also going to absorb lots more calcium bumping out magnesium in the process.
There is a strong association between kidney disease and heart disease but doctors say they don’t know why. I think it’s because the heart has the largest amount of magnesium in the whole body and when magnesium becomes deficient with all this excess calcium, it’s going to affect the muscular action of the heart.
Here’s what I recommend.
1. Use ionized magnesium testing so you know what’s really going on with magnesium levels in the body. Serum magnesium testing is highly inaccurate. It gives everyone a false sense of security about magnesium levels. Only about 1 percent of the total body magnesium is in the serum. And since magnesium is so crucial in preventing heart muscle spasms and arrhythmias, the body is going to drag magnesium out of storage any time the serum magnesium levels drop.
2. Obtain equal amounts of magnesium and calcium, about 700mg of each, in the total amount of your diet, water and supplements. Since our standard American diet only has about 200 mg of magnesium but around 700 mg of calcium, we need to supplement magnesium, not calcium. The U.S. RDA for calcium is 1,200mg, however the RDA for calcium in the UK and recommended by the WHO is 500-700 mg and those are the standards that I follow.
3. Use magnesium in liquid,picometer-ionic form (ReMag) to treat kidney disease. (See Susan’s case below.)
Another point of honor I’d like to mention is a suppressed study on kidney disease. A magnesium researcher asked a colleague, who is kidney disease specialist, to allow him to test his patients for magnesium. Ionized magnesium and serum magnesium testingwas done on 100 patients. The results were that people with chronic kidney disease (of all varieties) have the highest levels of serum magnesium and in the same sample, the lowest levels of ionized magnesium. When these patients took ionized magnesium liquid their blood ionized magnesium levels improved and they all got better. When the magnesium researcher asked if the kidney specialist would write about these amazing findings – he refused to publish the study ‘because everyone knows that magnesium can’t be taken in kidney disease!’
I have included the following story in my Completement Now! Online Wellness Program and in my Kindle and eBook, Invisible Minerals Part I – Magnesium. It illustrates the importance of absorption at the cellular level.
Susan is a dialysis patient. Her kidneys have failed completely. She requires a machine to clean her blood. She barely urinates.
Dialysis machines, however, are very poor at cleaning out excess minerals. Dialysis patients usually go on a strict diet where they limit their intake of potassium, sodium and phosphates to avoid build-up in their bloodstream. No dietary restrictions, however, are given about magnesium—because there is so little available in our diet it’s difficult to overdose. Calcium is monitored by serum blood testing but, as I mention below, this testing is often inaccurate.
(Just to clarify: If your kidneys function properly, dietary “overdosing” on magnesium is not a problem—you will simply urinate it out or it will be eliminated by having increased bowel movements.)
Susan started taking magnesium citrate before she consulted me. She took about 700mg a day because she had classic magnesium deficiency symptoms of cramping, insomnia and irritability. She quickly began to feel welcome relief once she went on the magnesium citrate. A week later, however, her condition worsened. She started to become very weak, nauseous, sleepless and suffered horrible headaches. She felt awful.
Her nurse ran a blood test and found that her magnesium levels were dangerously high. (Again, if your kidneys work fine, this will not happen to you. Magnesium is one of those minerals that will be released by your kidneys and your bowels when there is too much.)
But Susan wasn’t really taking all that much magnesium—only 700mg—less than she probably needed. When she first consulted me, I suspected that her body cells were not absorbing all the magnesium citrate. The rest was left circulating in the blood stream, unable to pass through her kidneys into her bladder. I immediately took her off the magnesium citrate. All her symptoms went away in a few days.
We then tried low-dose, pico-ionic magnesium (ReMag). This type of magnesium has been broken down to one trillionth of a meter in size, small enough to be immediately absorbed through picometer-sized mineral ion receptors in cells. Several days later Susan felt much better, had no more magnesium deficiency symptoms and a week later her blood work showed that her magnesium levels were fine showing no excess build-up.
In this one anecdotal case, the pico-ionic magnesium absorbed a lot better than the magnesium citrate. The evidence is in the blood work and in how Susan feels.
So, just like the magnesium researcher found, Susan’s serum levels of magnesium were high…but they never tested her ionized magnesium levels. However, by taking pico-ionic magnesium, her serum magnesium levels went down and she was getting the benefit of magnesium at the cellular level.
In Summary: Take magnesium in a well absorbed form like my ReMag. Lobby for ionized magnesium and calcium testing in your local lab or hospital. The ionized magnesium and calcium electrodes are made by Nova Biomedical. There are only 140 labs of 5,000 in the U.S. that do the ionized magnesium test.
� 2014 Dr. Carolyn Dean MD, ND - All Rights Reserved
Dr. Carolyn Dean is a Medical Doctor and Naturopathic Doctor on the cutting edge of the natural medicine revolution since 1979. She is working on several patents for novel health products including the iCell, the basic ingredient of RnA Drops. She also produces aunique magnesium: ReMag and a multiple mineral product: ReLyte that are 100% absorbed at the cellular level. Dr. Dean is the author/coauthor of 33 health books (print and eBooks) including The Magnesium Miracle, Invisible Minerals Part I and Part II, Death by Modern Medicine, IBS for Dummies, The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, Future Health Now Encyclopedia, Everything Alzheimers, and Hormone Balance and over 110 Kindle books! Dr. Dean is on the Medical Advisory Board of the non-profit educational site - Nutritional Magnesium Association, Her magnesium outreach has won her an award from the Heart Rhythm Society in the UK for “Outstanding Medical Contribution to Cardiac Rhythm Management-2012.” She was also awarded the Excellence in Integrative Medicine Award at the Sacred Fire of Liberty in Washington. Dr Dean has a free online newsletter and a valuable online 2-year wellness program called Completement Now! and runs a busy telephone consulting practice. Find out more at Dr. Dean’s Website and her RnAReSet website.
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