From the Desk of Carolyn Dean MD ND

Let’s celebrate Leap Year with an excerpt from Total Body ReSet for Men.

Aging itself is a risk factor for magnesium deficiency; as we get older we become more deficient in magnesium and, therefore, require more in our diet and in supplement form. Telomeres, the deciding factor in aging, are protected by magnesium.

Carolyn Dean MD ND

Aging in industrialized societies is associated with an increasing prevalence of hypertension, heart disease, reduced insulin sensitivity, and adult-onset diabetes. Aging in general also means altered calcium and magnesium ion levels, indistinguishable from those observed in hypertension and diabetes.¹

Blood sugar management is extremely important in good health and longevity. Insulin resistance plays a major role in exacerbating hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes mellitus. Insulin-resistant states, as well as what is often thought of as “normal” aging, are characterized by the accumulation of calcium and depletion of magnesium in the cells. With this in mind, clinical researchers in this century are finally suggesting that an imbalance of calcium and magnesium ions might be the missing link responsible for the frequent clinical coexistence of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and metabolic disorders in aging.²

As is evident from animal experiments and epidemiological studies, magnesium deficiency and calcium excess may increase our susceptibility to cardiovascular disease as well as accelerate aging.³ In a study of nursing home residents, low magnesium levels were significantly associated with two conditions that plague the elderly, calf cramps and diabetes mellitus.4 Centenarians (individuals reaching a hundred years of age) have higher total body magnesium and lower calcium levels than most elderly people.5

“Smart drugs” such as piracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam, and aniracetam are thought to enhance learning, facilitate the flow of information between the two hemispheres of the brain, help the brain resist physical and chemical injuries, and be relatively free of side effects. Magnesium fits all the above criteria for “smart drugs,” but it is much less costly and has no side effects.


Seven Points on Magnesium & Aging

In 1993, Dr. Jean Durlach, a preeminent magnesium expert in France, summed up the existing research on magnesium and aging with the following seven points:6

  1. Chronic marginal magnesium deficiency reduces life span in rats.
  2. Magnesium deficiency accelerates aging through its various effects on the neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and endocrine apparatus; kidneys and bones; and immune, anti- stress, and antioxidant systems.
  3. In developed countries, magnesium intake is marginal throughout the entire population regardless of age: around 4 mg/kg/day instead of a minimum of 6 mg/kg/day recommended to maintain balance. However, diseases, handicaps, and physical or psychological impairments expose elderly individuals to more severe nutritional deficiencies and higher requirements.
  4. Around the age of seventy, magnesium absorption is two-thirds of what it is at age thirty.
  5. Various mechanisms of deficiency include intestinal malabsorption; reduced bone uptake and mobilization (osteoporosis); increased urinary losses; chronic stress; insulin resistance leading to diabetes with severe magnesium loss in the urine; lack of response to adrenal stimulation; loss caused by medication, especially diuretics; alcohol addiction; and cigarette smoking.
  6. Magnesium deficiency symptoms in the elderly include central nervous system symptoms that seem largely “neurotic’: anxiety, excessive emotionality, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, light-headedness, dizziness, nervous fits, sensation of a lump in the throat, and impaired breathing. Peripheral nervous system signs are common: pins and needles of the extremities, cramps, muscle pains. Functional disorders include chest pain, shortness of breath, chest pressure, palpitations, extra systoles (occasional heart thumps from an isolated extra beat), abnormal heart rhythm, and Raynaud’s syndrome. Autonomic nervous system disturbances involve both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, causing hypotension on rising quickly or borderline hypertension. In elderly patients, excessive emotionality, tremor, weakness, sleep disorders, amnesia, and cognitive disturbances are particularly important aspects of magnesium deficiency.
  7. A trial of oral magnesium supplementation is the best diagnostic tool for establishing the importance of magnesium.

B Vitamins and Aging

Even though my bias is towards magnesium, other nutrients are important. Research has shown that lifestyle and nutrition factors play a role in epigenetic aging, and that supplementation with specific nutrients may slow or reverse it. Researchers investigate epigenetic aging as related to the modification of our genes, specifically through DNA methylation, which may in turn directly affect the biological age of an individual. The genetic variations in the MTHFR gene create a breakdown in “gene transcription” – the ability to produce particular proteins.

While research that focuses on one nutrient at a time is important, we can’t lose sight of the fact that all well-absorbed nutrients are at play. The methylated B’s in ReAline® also play a role in modifying epigenetic aging. However, the bottom line is that methylation is ruled by magnesium with the help of vitamin B2 (riboflavin). And according to Rhonda Patrick PhD and Steve Horvath PhD, vitamin D and omega-3s also play a role. Which goes to show that the more research that is done on nutrients the more they will find that all the nutrients work together synergistically. Absence of proof is not proof of absence!

Aging and Inflammation

Inflammation correlates with aging. Common among inflammatory-based diseases is the disruption in the tightness and stability of endothelial and vascular tissues. Endothelial cells form the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels (veins, arteries, capillaries) and the lymphatic system. This disruption contributes to poor nutrient absorption, inflammatory cell migration, and abnormal clotting – shortening biological age. Both omega-3s and vitamin D have direct effects on the health of these cells. We also see that magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc have similar anti-inflammatory effects making them important longevity factors.

Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future

 1 Barbagallo M et al., “Cellular ionic alterations with age: relation to hypertension and diabetes.” J Am Geriatr Soc, vol. 48, no. 9, pp. 1111–1116, 2000.
2 Barbagallo M, “Diabetes mellitus, hypertension and ageing: the ionic hypothesis of ageing and cardiovascular-metabolic diseases.” Diabetes Metab, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 281–294, 1997.
3 Hartwig A, “Role of magnesium in genomic stability.” Mutat Research, vol. 18, no. 475 (1–2), pp. 113–121, 2001.
4 Worwag M et al., “Prevalence of magnesium and zinc deficiencies in nursing home residents in Germany.” Magnes Res, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 181–189, 1999.
5 Paolisso G et al., “Mean arterial blood pressure and serum levels of the molar ratio of insulin-like growth factor-1 to its binding protein-3 in centenarians.” J Hypertens, vol. 17, pp. 67–73, 1999.
6 Durlach J et al., “Magnesium and ageing. II. Clinical data: aetiological mechanisms and pathophysiological consequences of magnesium deficit in the elderly.” Magnes Res, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 379–394, 1993.