According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, magnesium expert and Medical Director of the nonprofit Nutritional Magnesium Association (www.nutritionalmagnesium.org), approximately 30 to 40 years ago, doctors began prescribing calcium on a routine basis to many men and almost all women over the age of 40 to counter the effects of bone loss due to aging. The conventional wisdom was that bone loss is due to calcium deficiency. "After 40 years, it has become clear that taking calcium alone does not stop or even slow bone loss and does not prevent osteoporosis." 2
The new wisdom now emerging is that magnesium is actually the key to the body's proper assimilation and use of calcium as well as vitamin D. Dr. Dean says, "If we consume too much calcium without sufficient magnesium, the excess calcium is not utilized correctly and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions such as some forms of arthritis, kidney stones, osteoporosis and calcification of the arteries leading to heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
The effectiveness and benefits of calcium with respect to bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis are enormously impaired in the absence of adequate levels of magnesium in the body."
Many medical doctors, research scientists and nutritionists now believe magnesium supplementation is more important than calcium in order to maintain healthy bones as well as a healthy heart.
"Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in the blood. Without the proper balance of magnesium to calcium, about a 2:1 ratio, calcium ends up depositing in kidneys and can create kidney stones, in coronary arteries where it can lead to clogged arteries; and in joint cartilage, rather than in bones where we need it most. The more calcium taken without the balancing effect of magnesium, the more symptoms of magnesium deficiency and calcium excess you are liable to experience," Dr. Dean says.
New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Joseph Mercola concurs, "If you decide to supplement with magnesium it is important to understand that its complementary partner is calcium. So you should use both. Typically you would use twice as much elemental magnesium relative to the elemental calcium. That ratio works out quite well for most."
Dr. Guy Abraham, M.D., a research gynecologist and endocrinologist specializing in premenstrual syndrome and osteoporosis has found strong evidence to suggest that women with osteoporosis have a deficiency of the hormone calcitonin that is only made when they take twice as much magnesium as calcium. In fact, he has found that when calcium intake is decreased, it is better utilized than when it is high. Dr. Abraham is one of many doctors and biochemists who advocate taking more magnesium to correct calcium-deficiency diseases.
Dr. Dean adds, "Adequate levels of magnesium in the body are essential for the absorption and metabolism not only of calcium but of Vitamin D, because magnesium converts Vitamin D into its active form so that it can help calcium absorption. Magnesium also stimulates a particular hormone, calcitonin, which helps to preserve bone structure and draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones, lowering the likelihood of osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis, heart attack and kidney stones."
(1) BMJ. 2011;342:d2040. Epub 2011 Apr 19. PMID: 21505219
(2) Feskanich D; Willett WC; Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2003 Feb;77(2):504-11