For PEAK DAILY HEALTH, a blend of calcium-magnesium chelate with zinc is essential to nourish our skeleton, for muscle contraction and heartbeat, blood pressure stability, nerve transmission, for healthy blood clotting after injury, and for sleep and optimal weight. Energy production in every cell and enzyme functioning to regulate blood sugar all depend upon adequate magnesium and zinc.
For bone density, calcium, magnesium and zinc are basic and crucial nutrients to build and protect bone density. Our bones are constantly remodeling, like all tissues: osteoclast cells break down old material and osteoblasts lay the foundations for new bone. Many factors including hormones, liver and kidney function, diet, exercise and more than 24 nutrients play into bone health. However, calcium, magnesium, zinc and boron are the most essential building blocks to form the solid bone architecture. They are used for mineralization, which is deposition of minerals into the skeletal cartilage framework to make bones firm.
For optimal bone-building, we recommend calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, predominantly in chelate form, with adequate zinc and boron. A small amount of vitamin C, a gentle natural acid, enhances the availability of calcium.
Mood and sleep benefit from calcium and magnesium. Both of these minerals have a calming effect on the central nervous system and also on peripheral nerves. They can help soothe anxiety and insomnia, and ease restless legs and muscle cramps.
Calcium has multiple beneficial actions in the body:
- It is necessary for critical metabolic functions like muscle fiber contraction, including the heart muscle.
- Calcium is also crucial for conduction of impulses along all nerves, including heart rhythm.
- It has key roles for normal blood clotting
- Calcium is required for activating many key enzyme-like hormones.
Since this mineral is so important, the body carefully regulates serum levels of calcium. The parathyroid glands produce a hormone that tightly controls the proportions of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Bone is used as a storage reservoir, and if needed the body will pull calcium from the bones to maintain constant concentrations in blood, muscle, and intercellular fluids and tissues.
Calcium modulates the inflammatory response, and it can lower cardiovascular disease risk by reducing cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. In a 1993 study, subjects with cholesterol levels in the high range of 240 to 260 reduced their total cholesterol by 6% when they took extra calcium each day. In addition, LDL–the bad cholesterol that is implicated in coronary artery and vascular disease and strokes–dropped by 11%, meaning that these subjects reduced their heart-risk ratio.1
For peak daily health, studies have shown that calcium plays a key role in maintaining a healthy body weight via improved fat metabolism. A study in 2005 found that an increase in dietary calcium intake, together with a normal protein intake, led to improved fecal fat excretion, the equivalent of burning 350 calories of energy each day.3
For optimal long-term digestive health, data from epidemiological, observational, and experimental studies strongly indicate that calcium can protect against colorectal cancer. A population-based study in 1999 obtained data from about 4,000 subjects. The researchers noted that higher intakes of calcium from foods or supplements are associated with a significantly decreased risk of colon cancer.3 This finding has been confirmed many times since then.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body; about 60% of the body’s magnesium is found in bones, 25% in muscle, and much of the rest concentrates in the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. Magnesium is abundant inside cells, where it is the predominant mineral, and so it is generally measured as red blood cell magnesium; serum levels do not reflect its true status.
Magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common; it is estimated that half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium. We frequently find low red blood cell magnesium levels in our patients with palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome. Habitually low intakes of magnesium can interfere with essential biochemical pathways that can increase the risk of illness over time, so adequate intake via supplementation is advised. Although small amounts of magnesium are widely available in plant and animal foods and in some fortified foods, U.S. dietary surveys consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts. This could be due to poor absorption if the oxide supplemental form is taken, or from health conditions which impede assimilation.
Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body. This includes protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Inside cells, magnesium is essential for activating enzymes and energy production which is necessary to maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
Magnesium is critical in the process that releases energy within the mitochondria of every cell and tissue. Cells need robust magnesium levels to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a crucial molecule for energy transport, and to generate energy and keep the metabolism at a steady pace.
Maintaining healthy magnesium levels improves hormone balance and increases energy production. Magnesium is important to lower insulin resistance, so the body is better able to maintain optimal blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. A meta-analysis of fifteen trials found consistent results indicating that a higher magnesium intake was associated with improved fasting glucose and insulin.7
Magnesium contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, which is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. Because magnesium is a muscle relaxant, it has major roles for helping asthma, high blood pressure, constipation, migraine and insomnia.
Given its ubiquity throughout the body and of multitude of important functions, it is likely that magnesium is a solution to many people’s frustrating health problems.
Zinc is a trace mineral present in all cells and it is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. Zinc is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes, which speed up the body’s biochemical reactions to a pace that sustains life. Zinc also has an important role in optimal insulin and hormone function. A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system.
Zinc has a major role in the immune system, supporting white blood cells in mounting a healthy response to microbial invaders. It is also key for skin health, and a specific preventive or remedy for acne. Because of its essential roles in enzyme function, blood sugar balance and hormone stability, zinc is required for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Evidence suggests that zinc intakes can be marginal among older adults and especially in homes that are food insufficient. In a 2006 study investigators considered intakes from both food and dietary supplements: They found that as many as 20% to 25% of older adults still had inadequate zinc intakes.
For peak daily health, we recommend our patients take calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, predominantly in chelate form, with adequate zinc and boron. This combination is absorbable and very rarely constipating. A small amount of vitamin C, a gentle natural acid, enhances the availability of calcium.
For optimal bone-building, this combination has contributed to improvements in bone density over many years for patients in our clinic. Our patients also experience better sleep, less anxiety, and reduced restless leg problems. Blood sugar balance improves, and they find achieving their optimal weight easier. We also use magnesium and calcium to help with lowering blood pressure and stabilizing a healthy heart rhythm.
We ask patients to avoid an excess of calcium: The average adult needs about 800 mg. daily for bone building and maintaining density. A calcium overdose that exceeds the amount that bones can use, or that the kidneys can remove in a day, leads to calcium build-up in the soft tissues. The body is left with an excess, which it tends to drop into connective tissues. This can result in calcification of artery linings which increases plaque risk, and also calcium deposits in breast tissues. Calcium accumulation in connective tissues, tendons or scars may contribute to tendinitis, stiffness, or discomfort. Calcium is a nutrient that we want just the right amount of, not too little and not too much.
Recommendation: Calcium in a chelate form (such as citrate, aspartate, glycinate): 750-1000 mg daily for women, 400-500 mg daily for men. Magnesium chelate 375-400 mg, Zinc chelate 10-20 mg daily, taken with meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Denke MA, Fox MM, Schulte MC. Short-term dietary calcium fortification increases fecal saturated fat content and reduces serum lipids in men. J Nutr 1993; 123: 1047-1053.
- Jacobsen R, Lorenzen JK, Toubro S, Krog-Mikkelsen I, Astrup A. Effect of short-term high dietary calcium intake on 24-h energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and fecal fat excretion. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005 Jan 18;
- Slattery M, Edwards S, Boucher K, Anderson K, Caan B. Lifestyle and colon cancer: an assessment of factors associated with risk. Am J Epidemiol 1999;150:869-77.
- Gröber, Uwe, Joachim Schmidt, and Klaus Kisters. “Magnesium in prevention and therapy.” Nutrients 7.9 (2015): 8199-8226.
- Rosanoff, Andrea, Connie M. Weaver, and Robert K. Rude. “Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?” Nutrition reviews 70.3 (2012): 153-164.
- Ervin RB, Kennedy-Stephenson J. Mineral intakes of elderly adult supplement and non-supplement users in the third national health and nutrition examination survey. J Nutr 2002;132:3422-7.
- Hruby, Adela, et al. “Higher magnesium intake is associated with lower fasting glucose and insulin, with no evidence of interaction with select genetic loci, in a meta-analysis of 15 CHARGE Consortium Studies.” The Journal of nutrition 143.3 (2013): 345-353.