Magnesium & pH

The role of magnesium on the body's pH balance

We are used to evaluating what we eat by calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and other substances. But everything we eat has another fundamental property as well—its acidity.

Early in the 21st century, American scientists discovered that the acidity of the food we eat is critical to our health. The acidity of a food, or its pH—which is a logarithmic measure of the hydrogen ions it contains—is a factor of various components which during metabolism have either an overall acidifying or alkalizing effect within the body.

Normal pH of different fluids in our body

The pH of many of the body's various fluids normally falls within a fairly tight, very slightly basic range. The digestive tract, where an acidic environment is crucial to digestion, is a somewhat different case. Here are average pH's of some of these bodily fluids:

      • Arterial blood: 7.35-7.45
      • Venous blood: 7.26-7.36
      • Lymphatic fluid: 7.35-7.40
      • Intercellular fluid: 7.26-7.38
      • Synovial fluid: 7.3
      • Saliva: widely fluctuating and variable among individuals; ideal ~6.75-7.0+
      • Stomach acid: 1.6-3.0
      • Urine: widely fluctuating and variable among individuals; ideal ~7.5 upwards

Unhealthy eating is the cause of chronic acidification of the body

Unfortunately, the eating habits of modern man are oftentimes characterized by an imbalance of hydrogen ions and bicarbonate. This imbalance can lead to chronic and pathogenic systemic metabolic acidosis (acidification).

According to anthropologists, the human diet in Paleolithic consisted of one-third lean flesh of wild animals and two-thirds vegetarian foods. For millennia, our primary diet was extremely alkalizing.

Nowadays our diet tends to be very rich in saturated and trans fats, refined and simple sugars, and acid, and very poor in fiber, magnesium, and calcium. What are some of the most frequent food choices of modern man? Pizza, chips, pastries, carbonated drinks, and so forth. These foods have highly acidifying properties. Daily intake of acidifying foods leads to a chronic acidification (acidosis) of the internal environment of the body.

During long-term imbalance of pH, the bones as the main storage of magnesium and calcium will become subject to a compensatory process whereby these elements are leached from storage.

At all costs, our body must regulate normal blood pH. But under acidified conditions within the body, this effort exacts a steep price. When there's a dearth of calcium and magnesium in the diet, for example, or when there is for excess intake of caffeine and sodas, the body will compromise the quality of its bones for the sake of its blood. In order to maintain pH balance in the blood, the alkaline buffers calcium and magnesium will be "spent" from the bones.

Bone health is just one of the reasons why it is so important for the body to maintain pH balance. The latest research studies show that bones lose magnesium first, then calcium, thereby accelerating the development of osteoporosis, muscle damage and chronic weakness. Weakness of bones and muscles leads to the damage of joints. Acidity of urine leads to kidney stones. Chronic kidney malfunction leads to the development of inflammatory diseases and kidney failure.

Acidity of saliva destroys teeth and causes stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth). Chronic acidification may also cause headaches, anxiety, and insomnia. Under acidified conditions, magnesium, calcium and potassium get washed out of the bone tissue and need to be restored.

Magnesium function in the body

Though we hear a great deal about the importance of calcium, magnesium is an element that is equally critical to our body as calcium due to its biological effects. Calcium cannot be absorbed by our body without magnesium. Magnesium balances the intake of calcium and prevents its removal, and is thus crucial to bone tissue. Within the body, about 60% of the magnesium in reserve is held in the bones and teeth, 20% in the muscle tissue, 19% in the heart, brain, liver, kidney etc., and 1% in the extracellular fluid.

The cause of magnesium deficiency

Fast food, sweets, carbonated drinks (soda), caffeine and other refined foods can all lead to magnesium deficiency. Yet inadequate magnesium levels can result not only from suboptimal food choices we make but also from the increased demands made upon us by physical, mental and emotional stress.

Other reasons for magnesium deficiency include digestive and intestinal problems, abuse of laxatives, and increased secretion of magnesium through the kidneys due to kidney disorders, diabetes, alcohol intake, and certain medication such as contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy, beta blockers, cardiac glycosides, antibiotics and cytostatics.

Various popular weight loss diets can also cause magnesium deficiency. Excessive consumption of animal protein (with certain high-protein diets, for example) shifts the pH in the body toward the acidic side, leading to increased excretion of uric acid.

The biological effects of magnesium

Magnesium is one of major suppliers of energy to the cells. It also has a significant impact on the absorption of calcium ions into the cell. In this case, magnesium acts as a physiological antagonist of calcium and prevents redundant functioning of cells. For example, it prevents excess contraction of muscles (muscle cramps, bronchial spasms caused by asthma, and bowel cramps).

Magnesium also protects the nervous system from the negative effects of mental and emotional stress. It supports cellular immunity and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effects.

In addition, magnesium keeps uric acid dissolved and prevents its concretion. Magnesium, especially in the form of citrate, reduces the absorption of oxalate in the gut. It is also involved in the removal of toxins in the liver and protects against radiation. It protects the body from lead and other heavy metals being absorbed into the system, and also removes them from metabolism.

We need magnesium for stronger bones, teeth, hair and nails, as well to run the body's muscles and keep its nervous system functioning optimally.

Magnesium citrate

A simple and effective way to increase alkalinity in our body is to take supplemental magnesium citrate. Within the body, pH balance is readily achieved through alkalinization of magnesium and citrates, which reinforce one another.

When it comes to magnesium and calcium, citrates are mineral molecular forms that serve as excellent conductors to the cells. Citrates reduce the withdrawal of calcium in the urine, promote absorption of vitamin C and certain minerals within the gut, and help neutralize toxins and nitrates.

Of course, the best way for us all to alkalize our bodies is through our diets. We can do this by eating ample dark green leafy vegetables and minimally processed foods, including refined sugars, fats and sodas. But even those who follow the perfect diet can experience the magnesium-depleting effects of stress. For those times when we simply cannot follow a perfect diet or fall subject to the stresses of modern life, supplements containing magnesium citrate are an excellent choice. Taking a high-quality supplement is an inexpensive and effective way to insure the long-term health of your teeth, bones, kidneys, hair, nails, muscles and nerves.