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Does more magnesium mean you need more calcium?

by (583)
Updated about 18 hours ago
Created October 21, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Ok so I'm not entirely clear on the calcium/magnesium situation. I'm definitely not getting a 1:1 ratio of them as is sometimes suggested.

It seems like taking loads of magnesium is not only safe, but could actually lower your calcium requirements. I don't take loads of magnesium but I do supplement it liberally and I do NOT supplement calcium. According to CRON-O-Meter, I don't get quite enough calcium so I'm going to aim for more of that through diet but I don't want to supplement it and I DO want to supplement magnesium (helps with constipation). Re-reading that paragraph it looks confusing but the issue IS confusing, hence my post.

Seems like I'm in the green. Am I missing something?

I konw it's been covered, for instance here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/144083/does-magnesium-compete-with-calcium.html#axzz2iNYeYngA but it still left me scratching my head.

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15 · October 24, 2013 at 1:05 AM

Where was the fracture and what is your background diet?

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1087 · October 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

The number that sticks in my mind is a factor three improved absorption from eating spinach with vinegar (pH=2.8). Surely Mg, which is way to the left in the Mendeleev table, gets absorbed much more. Today I ate grapes and apples for fruit, pH=2.8 and 3.4 respectively. but food combination has a lot of applications. Greens and olive oil for improved beta carotene absorption. Fats and proteins for better digestion. CLO and ghee.

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15 · October 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM

I think blood serum calcium is a poor indicator of calcium intake. Dietary calcium deficiency elevates PTH which mobilized calcium from the bones. The serum calcium will remain the same or even be higher than in well-calcium supplied people. PTH is a better indicator for your calcium-phosphate balance.

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2357 · October 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Well, I've learned something new today — thanks glib! I love red curry and tikka masala sauce, and I'll be glad to make use of this bit of information.

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2357 · October 23, 2013 at 2:12 AM

@glib — Touché on the bacteria. I consider them part of me, even though they reside in my lumen, which is technically outside of me. But please elaborate on how vinegar/acetic acid affects Mg. assimilation. Are you implying that vinegar enhances assimilation?

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1087 · October 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM

good post Jake. The next question is whether it is you or your bacteria who are poor Mg absorbers. Also, to touch on the chemical side of things, what happens if you eat everything vegetable with vinegar, or end all your meals with 1-3 fruits, both things I do.

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583 · October 22, 2013 at 9:41 PM

^BUMP^ - nobody?

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3 Answers

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1363 · October 23, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I think us paleo folks need more calcium in general.

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1087 · October 23, 2013 at 2:44 AM

Yes (sorry for replying like this, my comment was rejected as too long), back in my vegetarian days I came across at least two papers on the subject. It is a neolithic way to improve mineral absorption. Basically, anything acid with anything that is absorbed poorly. Acetic acid with greens is but one example. High ascorbic acid (say, kiwi) fruit at the end of a meal. Pasta with tomato sauce. The absorbable acids bind to minerals, and basically compete with phytic or oxalic acid. Numerous civilizations have this way of eating (fruits at the end of a meal, or acidic food combinations).

In regard to your bacteria, they can be changed. Of course we are very ignorant about them, but there is hope for the future.

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1087 · October 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

The number that sticks in my mind is a factor three improved absorption from eating spinach with vinegar (pH=2.8). Surely Mg, which is way to the left in the Mendeleev table, gets absorbed much more. Today I ate grapes and apples for fruit, pH=2.8 and 3.4 respectively. but food combination has a lot of applications. Greens and olive oil for improved beta carotene absorption. Fats and proteins for better digestion. CLO and ghee.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3
2357 · October 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Well, I've learned something new today — thanks glib! I love red curry and tikka masala sauce, and I'll be glad to make use of this bit of information.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3
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2357 · October 22, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Hi @Methodician,

Since I reviewed the other answer page you linked, I'll try to keep this a bit simpler without oversimplifying.

Calcium and magnesium work together to form a bio-chemical pump in and out of cells. The two minerals do need to be in some sort of balance, but as you've read, there's a debate about how much you need. The issue is muddier when you consider those on a paleo diet, because they're not eating the things that make you excrete calcium, e.g., sugar, and they tend to do things that help bone density, e.g., weight-bearing exercise. The end result is that there are conflicting opinions about the optimal ratio for people on a paleo food plan and very few (if any) valid clinical studies to support those opinions. Frankly, I don't know what to believe on this score anymore. Perhaps other, more informed people on this forum can chime in.

Second, the amount of calcium and magnesium you ingest doesn't indicate how much of each mineral you absorb/assimilate. As the other Paleohack page mentions, calcium in high-oxalate foods, such as spinach, is not bioavailable, so nutrition apps that use the USDA database aren't the best indicator of whether you're achieving your nutritional goals in this regard. Moreover, individuals differ in their abilities to incorporate these minerals into their bodies. If you're really interested in your internal status of these two minerals, you need to do two medical tests:

  • Calcium: a blood serum calcium test. This is a standard test in any lab.
  • Magnesium: the EXATest; this must be ordered by a healthcare provider.

The standard serum test for magnesium is not a good indicator of magnesium assimilation, because magnesium is primarily an intra-cellular mineral, whereas calcium is primarily an extra-cellular mineral. You'll need a healthcare provider willing to go "outside the box" to get the EXATest test kit.

It was through repeated EXATests that I found I'm very poor at assimilating magnesium. Taking 400 mg. of chelated Mg. supplements in addition to a diet rich in Mg. gets me into the lower end of the normal range of intracellular Mg. concentration. You might assimilate Mg just fine and not need any supplementation.

I hope this improves your understanding, even if it doesn't settle the matter.

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15 · October 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM

I think blood serum calcium is a poor indicator of calcium intake. Dietary calcium deficiency elevates PTH which mobilized calcium from the bones. The serum calcium will remain the same or even be higher than in well-calcium supplied people. PTH is a better indicator for your calcium-phosphate balance.

B82f2515ba5a800bed018c9536f9108d
1087 · October 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM

good post Jake. The next question is whether it is you or your bacteria who are poor Mg absorbers. Also, to touch on the chemical side of things, what happens if you eat everything vegetable with vinegar, or end all your meals with 1-3 fruits, both things I do.

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