Magnesium is an important mineral that helps improve stamina, endurance, vitality, and energy levels. Magnesium is involved in several hundred enzymatic reactions, being required for cardiovascular function and the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to energy. It also functions in muscle relaxation and contraction, nerve transmissions, and the removal of excess toxic substances from the body. Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the soft tissues.

Magnesium is the “iron” of the plant world – as iron is to hemoglobin, so magnesium is to chlorophyll, the “blood” pigment of plants. The central atom of the chlorophyll structure is magnesium.

About 65% of our magnesium is contained in the bones and teeth. As with calcium, the bones act as a reservoir for magnesium in times of need. Elsewhere, most of it, like potassium, is found inside the cells. Usually, about 40-50% of the magnesium we consume is absorbed, though this may vary from 25-75% depending on stomach acid levels, body needs, type of magnesium, and dietary habits. The kidneys can excrete or conserve magnesium according to body needs. The intestines can also eliminate excess magnesium in the feces.

Magnesium has many essential metabolic functions in the body. It is important in the production and transfer of energy, in muscle contraction and relaxation, in nerve conduction, in protein synthesis, and in many biochemical reactions as a cofactor to enzymes. Magnesium also dilates blood vessels.


Almost all dietary magnesium come from the vegetable kingdom, though seafood has fairly high amounts. As a component of chlorophyll, the dark green vegetables are good sources. Beet leaves are an excellent source; most nuts, seeds and legumes have high amounts of magnesium; soy products, especially soy flour and tofu, and nuts such as almonds, pecans, cashews, and brazils are good examples. The whole grains, particularly wheat (especially the bran and germ), millet, and brown rice, and fruits such as avocado and dried apricot are other sources. Hard water can also be a valuable source of magnesium.

Requirements and Dosages

The current RDA is about 350mg for men and 300mg for women, increasing to about 450mg during pregnancy and lactation. Many authorities feel that the RDA should be doubled, to about 600-700mg. An average diet usually supplies about 120mg of magnesium per 1,000 calories, resulting in an estimated daily intake of about 250mg. Unless absorption is great, that is not going to produce adequate tissue levels of magnesium for most people. If you develop muscle cramps when taking magnesium, you may need to increase your level of calcium.

The calcium-magnesium balance is important. Magnesium and calcium have similar functions and can either encourage or antagonize each other. The role of these two minerals in muscle contraction is complementary: calcium stimulates muscles and magnesium relaxes them. Our body needs twice as much calcium as magnesium. Consumption of excessive amounts of magnesium inhibits bone formation, whereas excessive consumption of calcium produces symptoms that resemble magnesium deficiency.

To function optimally, magnesium must be balanced in the body with calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium chloride. If calcium intake is increased, magnesium should be increased also. Your doctor may alter this ratio, increasing your level of magnesium for a period of time. Toxicity due to magnesium overload is almost unknown in a nutritional context, as excesses are usually eliminated in the urine and feces. However, symptoms of magnesium toxicity are more likely if calcium intake is low.

The levels of magnesium used by nutritional physicians are commonly in the range of 600-1,000mg. Some calcium-magnesium combinations are formulated with hydrochloric acid and vitamin D to aid mineral absorption. Taking them before bedtime may be very helpful in increasing utilization of both these important minerals and lead to better sleep.

Magnesium chelated with amino acids is probably the most absorbable form. Less absorbable forms include magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium carbonate. Magnesium oxide is probably somewhat better than magnesium carbonate (dolomite). The newly available salts of magnesium aspartate or citrate, both known as mineral transporters, have a better percentage absorption.

When to take Calcium and Magnesium

There are conflicting recommendations about the best way to take calcium supplements. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus statement on optimal calcium intake recommends taking no more than 200mg doses, between meals. The recently published clinical guidelines for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists suggest taking supplemental calcium with meals and with a bedtime snack. The decision to take the supplements with or between meals may be based on the type of supplement you’re taking. Calcium and magnesium carbonate or hydroxide is more difficult to absorb on an empty stomach or in conditions where there is limited stomach acid. Therefore, absorption may be improved when it’s taken with food, especially acidic foods such as citrus juice or fruit. Calcium and magnesium can act as acid neutralizers.

The citrate form is better absorbed on an empty stomach because it does not require gastric acid for absorption. It is the preferred supplement for those lacking stomach acid, including older people, those who have had stomach surgery and those taking medications that block gastric acid production.

The type and amount of calcium and magnesium you take as a supplement should be based on your medical history and your average dietary intake of calcium. Supplements should be taken in smaller doses throughout the day if convenient. If you take an iron supplement, don’t take it at the same time as your calcium or magnesium supplement if they are in an antacid form.

One magnesium product that seems to work very well for some people is called Natural Calm. It comes in powder form and you add water (hot or cold) to make a drink.


Magnesium can help with the following


Alcoholism Recovery

Alcoholics tend to have low magnesium levels, and this mineral can be helpful during withdrawal.


Cocaine Addiction

Magnesium has been substituted for cocaine and can result in reduced cocaine intake.


Multiple Sclerosis / Risk

Please also see the article about the approach that Fred Klenner, MD used with MS.


Myasthenia Gravis

While magnesium is an important mineral and magnesium deficiency is somewhat common, a large dose of a magnesium may act as a muscle relaxant and cause extreme weakness in MG.


Mitral Valve Prolapse

Research has shown that 85% of patients with mitral valve prolapse have latent tetany due to chronic magnesium deficiency. A magnesium deficiency:



Magnesium is helpful in preventing blood vessel calcification (and thereby atherosclerosis). A daily dose of 50mg of vitamin B6 and 200-300mg of magnesium is often given. Generally though, magnesium doses should be higher than this.



A magnesium deficiency can produce electrical changes in the heart muscle and thus lead to arrhythmia. Magnesium is commonly given to patients with arrhythmias but is thought to drive potassium into cells, producing lower serum potassium if not enough potassium is available to maintain normal serum levels. When in doubt, it is best to supplement both potassium and magnesium together.

In 22 postmenopausal women it was found that a low magnesium diet caused a significant increase in both supraventricular and supraventricular plus ventricular beats compared to a diet higher in magnesium. [Am J Clin Nutr, 2002;75: pp.550-554]



Magnesium insufficiency-induced coronary artery spasm, more common in men than women, is now recognized as an important cause of myocardial infarction and may be of significance in angina pectoris.

Oral magnesium supplementation (700 – 800mg per day) can improve exercise tolerance and reduce exercise-induced chest pain in patients with coronary artery disease. [Am J Cardiol 2003;91: pp.517-521]


Platelet Aggregation Risk

Magnesium is a powerful antagonist of platelet adhesion. It acts as an anticoagulant, prolongs clotting time, stimulates fibrinolysis and is synergistic with heparin.



In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, it was demonstrated that oral magnesium resulted in a significant dose-dependent reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A mean reduction of 6mm Hg in diastolic pressure in patients with hypertension results in approximately 10% lower risk of coronary artery disease, and a 40% reduction in risk of strokes.

When magnesium levels are low, more calcium flows into the vascular muscle cells, which contracts them – leading to tighter vessels and higher blood pressure. Adequate magnesium levels prevent this.




When given orally in sufficient quantities, magnesium citrate or sulfate (Epsom salts) is not fully absorbed but attracts water into the colon and thus acts as an effective laxative. Most people have heard of milk of magnesia, a form of magnesium sold as a laxative in drugstores. It is completely natural, safe, and it works very well, aside from a slightly unpleasant taste. Other forms of magnesium, including magnesium chloride, have a higher absorption rate. They may not be quite as effective as laxatives but they don’t taste as bad, they are gentler and can help while at the same time also providing magnesium for the body.



Too much magnesium, more than can be absorbed by the time it reaches the large intestine, can increase bowel activitiy and cause more bowel movements.

Environment / Toxicity  

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Magnesium is thought to reduce lead toxicity and its buildup, possibly through competing for absorption.




The Immune System  

Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fatigue is sometimes reduced with magnesium (and potassium) supplementation. The many enzyme systems that require magnesium help restore normal energy levels. Treat any magnesium deficiency preferably with magnesium malate. Sometimes magnesium by injection or IV is used.

Lab Values  



Because of its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for depression.



Because of its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for nervousness and anxiety.

Magnesium is considered the “antistress” mineral. It is a natural tranquilizer as it functions to relax skeletal muscles as well as the smooth muscles of blood vessels and the gastrointestinal tract. Whereas calcium stimulates muscle contraction, magnesium relaxes them.


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD / ADHD)

Magnesium is often given as part of a treatment for hyperactivity in kids, usually along with vitamin B6.


Headaches, Migraine/Tension

Several researchers have provided substantial links between low magnesium levels and both migraine and tension headaches, based on both theory and clinical observations. A magnesium deficiency is known to set the stage for the events that can cause a migraine attack or a tension headache. Low brain and tissue magnesium concentrations have been found in patients prone to migraines, indicating a need for supplementation. One of magnesium’s key functions is to maintain the tone of the blood vessels.

Magnesium malate or other Krebs cycle chelates (citrate, fumarate, succinate, and alpha ketoglutarate) may be best. 600-1000mg of elemental magnesium per day in divided doses with meals may be required over a one to two month period.

Serum and urinary magnesium levels are only sometimes statistically lower in migraine sufferers than in controls. However, migraine sufferers retain more magnesium than controls when magnesium is given orally, indicating a more systemic deficiency [Headache 2002;42: pp.114-19]. Earlier studies have found reduced levels of magnesium in serum, saliva, red blood cells, mononuclear cells, lymphocytes, and cerebrospinal fluid in migraine patients.



Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Until further research is done, the best strategy may involve taking the following on a daily basis: magnesium, calcium and pantothenic acid. If bruxism subsides, it is advisable to continue taking these supplements, but perhaps at a lower dosage. If no improvement is observed after 2 months, another approach should be tried.


Headaches, Cluster

People who suffer from cluster headaches often have low blood levels of magnesium, and preliminary trials show that intravenous magnesium injections may relieve a cluster headache episode. Magnesium is a relaxant of smooth muscles. [Headache 1995;35: pp.597-600, 1996;36: pp.154-60]


Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)

A diet rich in magnesium may help reduce the incidence of metabolic syndrome, the cluster of conditions that can lead to diabetes and coronary heart disease, new research finds.

The study of more than 4,600 Americans, begun in 1985, found the risk of developing metabolic syndrome over the next 15 years was 31 percent lower for those with the highest intake of magnesium, according to a report in the March 28 issue of Circulation.

The components of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, elevated blood fats and low levels of HDL cholesterol: the “good” kind that helps keep arteries clear. Having at least three of these factors increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This is not the first study to link magnesium and metabolic syndrome. An analysis of data on 11,686 participants in the Women’s Health Study, published last year by Dr. Paul M. Ridker and others at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, yielded similar results, with a 27 percent lower incidence of the symdrome for women with the highest magnesium intake compared to those with the lowest.

This study does add something new, says study author Dr. Ka He, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University. It showed that “a higher magnesium intake was associated with a reduced risk of each individual component of the metabolic syndrome,” he says. [Circulation March 28 2006]



300 young healthy male military recruits undergoing two months of basic training were studied. The trainees were repeatedly exposed to high levels of impulse noises, with ringing of the ears as a consequence. Each recruit received daily either 167mg of magnesium aspartate or a placebo. Permanent hearing loss was significantly more frequent and more severe in the placebo group than in the magnesium group. [Am J Otolaryngol 1994;15: pp.26-32]




Because of its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for insomnia.



Taking this mineral with some thiamine (B1) and drinking extra water can help prevent hangover symptoms.




Hyperkalemia (Elevated Serum Potassium)

Magnesium (200mg two to three times per day) helps regulate potassium levels.



Osteoporosis / Risk

A high percentage of the American population is considered to have some degree of magnesium deficiency [JAMA 1990, 263: 3063]. In a study, magnesium supplements were given to 19 postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy with low bone density. After 1 year of magnesium supplementation 12 of the women no longer had low bone density [J Reprod Med 1990, 35: p.503]. Magnesium supplementation has been associated with a 1 – 8% increase in bone density [Magnesium Research 1993, 6: p.155].


Susceptibility To Cavities

Magnesium is helpful in preventing some problems of the teeth, including cavities. For these purposes, a daily dose of 50mg of vitamin B6 and 200-300mg of magnesium is often given.


Muscle Cramps / Twitching

See the link between Muscle Cramps and Magnesium Requirement.


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) / Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)

Magnesium deficiency, which is known to increase neuromuscular excitability, can also cause this syndrome. [Rom J Neural Psychiatry 31(1): pp.55-6, 1993]


Leg Cramps At Night

Because of its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for muscle cramps. Some people taking magnesium may get relief from leg cramps right away, but a long-standing deficiency can take weeks to overcome with supplements.

Nervous System  

Seizure Disorder

Through its nerve- and muscle-relaxing effect, magnesium may be helpful in reducing epileptic seizures caused by nerve excitability.


Organ Health  

Kidney Stones (Urolithiasis)

By increasing calcium solubility (especially in the urine) and reducing calcium absorption, magnesium can help prevent kidney stones, especially those composed of calcium oxalate. Research has shown this effect in a high percentage of people who form kidney stones regularly. It is thought that calcium oxalate stones are most likely to form in people who are magnesium deficient, so it may just be correcting that deficiency.


Kidney Weakness / Disease

If you have kidney problems, taking magnesium supplements may make you accumulate the mineral too quickly, which could be toxic.


Kidney Failure

If you have kidney problems, taking magnesium supplements may cause you to accumulate the mineral too quickly, which could be toxic. As kidneys fail, they lose their ability to remove excess magnesium. If you have kidney problems, you should check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.


Low Back Pain / Problems

Some doctors consider the use of magnesium (muscle relaxant) in back pain that may be due to muscle spasm and toxicity.



Magnesium supplements may reduce the bronchoconstriction in asthma by relaxing the muscle around the bronchial tubes. Intravenous solutions containing magnesium and other nutrients have been used successfully to break acute asthma attacks. Oral use improves breathing in asthmatics and the improvement correlates with serum magnesium levels.

In a preliminary trial, 18 adults with asthma took 300mg of magnesium per day for 30 days and experienced decreased bronchial reactivity. [Magnesium-Bulletin 1997;19: pp.4-6] However, a double-blind trial investigated the effects of 400mg per day for three weeks and found a significant improvement in symptoms, but not in objective measures of airflow or airway reactivity. [Eur Respir J 1997;10: pp.2225-9] The amount of magnesium used in these trials was 300 to 400mg per day (children take proportionately less based on their body weight).



Increased Risk of Hypertension

Magnesium has a mild effect on lowering blood pressure and so is used to treat and prevent hypertension and its effects.


Body Odor

See the link between Body Odor and Zinc.


Eclampsia / Preeclampsia

Magnesium has been used specifically to lower blood pressure in pregnant women with preeclampsia, which is characterized by edema, hypertension, and hyperreflexia. These problems could become more severe and lead to seizures (then termed “eclampsia”) as well. Magnesium also acts as a mild anticonvulsant in this case.


Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD

Menstrual cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention have been lessened by taking supplemental magnesium, usually given along with calcium and often with vitamin B6. Magnesium is often at its lowest level during menstruation, and many symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are relieved when this mineral is replenished. Supplementing magnesium in the same amount (or more) as calcium (about 500-1,000mg daily) is currently recommended for premenstrual problems. Women with PMS have been reported to be at increased risk of magnesium deficiency.

A 1998 study in The Journal of Women’s Health found that 200mg a day of magnesium reduced PMS fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating by 40%. Magnesium is important to regulate muscle relaxation, blood sugar, and to promote sound sleep – all particularly important during PMS.


Premenstrual Syndrome PMS H (Heaviness)

A deficiency in magnesium causes hyperplasia of the adrenal cortex, elevated aldosterone levels, and increased extracellular fluid volume. Aldosterone increases the urinary excretion of magnesium; hence, a positive feedback mechanism results, which is aggravated since there is no renal mechanism for conserving magnesium.

In laboratory animals, a pyridoxine deficiency at the renal level decreases the kidneys’ ability to secrete sodium. In addition, since pyridoxine requires magnesium for phosphorylation to its active form, a magnesium deficiency can lead to decreased B6 activity. Increased insulin secretion, in response to sugar consumption, results in sodium retention that is independent of aldosterone.


Premenstrual Syndrome PMS C (Craving)

In initial research, the supplementation of magnesium has resulted in the satisfying of chocolate cravings. Since both chocolate and cocoa powder contain high levels of magnesium (520mg/100gm and 100mg/100gm, respectively), your craving of chocolate may just reflect your desire to supplement this essential element. Additionally, there are links between low magnesium levels and the development of PMS symptoms, which may explain some women’s monthly chocolate binge.


Dysmenorrhea, Painful Menstruation

Menstrual cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression, and water retention have been lessened with magnesium, usually given along with calcium and often with vitamin B6. Magnesium is often at its lowest level during menstruation. In acute cases, magnesium and vitamin B6 intravenously can stop the cramping. Restoring magnesium sufficiency by consistent supplementation can work to prevent this problem.


Possible Pregnancy-Related Issues

Low magnesium levels are common among women suffering from severe nausea and vomiting, says Miriam Erick, M.S., R.D., dietetic manager of Clinical Obstetrics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Therefore, magnesium for these expectant moms is critical. Magnesium can also help treat pregnancy-related leg cramps [Dahle LO, et al. Am J of Obst & Gyn 1995;173: pp.175­180] and alleviate severe pre-eclampsia, a serious condition in which high blood pressure, edema and protein in the urine are present in pregnant women. [Brit J Obst & Gyn 1997;104(10): pp.1173­9] Taking prenatal magnesium may also reduce risk for cerebral palsy and mental retardation among very low birth-weight infants. [Schendel DE, et al. J of the AMA 1996;276(22): pp.1805­10]

In a study of 535 women who were expected to deliver within the one day, subjects received a loading dose of 4g of magnesium sulfate at a 0.5 g/ml concentration in a 60-ml bag compared with 527 women who received an isotonic sodium solution, both over 20 minutes, followed by a maintenance infusion at 2 ml/hour for up to 24 hours. At 2 years, the children of women who received magnesium sulfate had a reduction in total mortality (13.8% vs 17.1%), less cerebral palsy (6.8% vs 8.2%), and less combined death or cerebral palsy (19.8% vs 24.0%) compared with those who received the placebo. There was significantly less gross motor dysfunction and combined death or substantial gross motor dysfunction in the magnesium group versus the isotonic sodium chloride group. There were no serious harmful effects seen with the magnesium sulfate infusion. [JAMA. November 26, 2003;290(20): pp.2669-2676]


Premenstrual Syndrome PMS D (Depression)

Lead blocks the binding of estrogen to receptor sites and but has no effect on progesterone. A chronic magnesium deficiency may be a contributing factor as it results in increased lead absorption and retention, while decreasing resistance to stress. Hair mineral analysis has shown that, in general, PMS patients have higher heavy metal levels and lower magnesium levels than non-PMS controls. Menstrual cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention have been lessened with magnesium, usually given along with calcium and often with vitamin B6. Magnesium is often at its lowest level during menstruation. Supplementing magnesium in the same amount (or more) as calcium (about 500-1,000mg daily) is currently recommended for premenstrual problems.


Susceptibility To Miscarriages

A small study of infertile women and women with a history of miscarriage suggests that low levels of magnesium may impair reproductive function, and may contribute to miscarriage. Oxidation, a process that is damaging to cell membranes, can lead to loss of magnesium. The same study suggests that the antioxidant selenium protects the cell membrane, thereby maintaining appropriate levels of magnesium. The authors of the study suggest taking both magnesium and selenium supplements.

Women who have miscarried have lower levels of selenium than women who carry a pregnancy to full term. Although the authors of the above-mentioned study do not specify the exact amount to take, the recommended doses are generally 300 to 400mg per day of magnesium and 200mcg per day of selenium.


May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences
Avoid absolutely



An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.


Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.


Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.


The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.


Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.


An essential mineral. Prevents anemia: as a constituent of hemoglobin, transports oxygen throughout the body. Virtually all of the oxygen used by cells in the life process are brought to the cells by the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Iron is a small but most vital, component of the hemoglobin in 20,000 billion red blood cells, of which 115 million are formed every minute. Heme iron (from meat) is absorbed 10 times more readily than the ferrous or ferric form.


The oxygen-carrying protein of the blood found in red blood cells.


The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.


A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.


A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.


The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.


A substance that acts with another substance to bring about certain effects, often a coenzyme.


Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.


Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins or other nutrients as determined by the FDA. U.S. RDAs are more widely used than RDAs, and focus on 3 age groups: Infants of 0-12 months; Children of 1-4 years; Adults and children of more than 4 years.


(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.


Production of milk; period after giving birth during which milk is secreted in the breasts.


The second most abundant mineral in the body found in every living cell. It is involved in the proper functioning of both muscles and nerves. It is needed for metabolic processes of all cells, to activate many other nutrients, and to form energy-storage and energy-releasing compounds. The phosphorus content of the body is approximately one percent of total body weight. Phosphorus combines with fats to form phospholipids.


An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.

Hydrochloric Acid

(HCl): An inorganic acidic compound, excreted by the stomach, that aids in digestion.

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.


A disease in which bone tissue becomes porous and brittle. The disease primarily affects postmenopausal women.


Neutralizes acid in the stomach, esophagus, or first part of the duodenum.

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