Home / Juvenon Health Journal / Magnesium: An elemental contributor to cellular health? 4/08


Juvenon Health Journal volume 7 number 4 april 2008

magnesium: an elemental contributor to cellular health?

By Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D.

Micronutrients are essential to specific functions in the body. They stabilize tissue components (proteins, membranes, DNA-containing genetic code). They participate in the formation and activation of enzymes critical to keeping our heart pumping, energy production efficient, brain function active, etc.

But our bodies’ tissues can’t make micronutrients. This family of 40-plus substances must be obtained from our diet in specific daily amounts to maintain optimum health, especially in later life.

Vitamin micronutrients and their importance were the subject of a previous Juvenon Health Journal (December, 2006). The topic of this month’s Journal is another class of essential micronutrients, the minerals, specifically, magnesium.

Minerals A.K.A. Metals 
Most of us probably are not aware of the fact that calcium is a metal. It represents a significant percentage of our total body dry weight, as does another metal, magnesium. The bulk of both metals is found in bone, and is necessary for normal bone formation.

Magnesium participates in hundreds of different biochemical reactions.In addition to helping to maintain strong bones and stabilizing other structural components of the body, magnesium also participates in hundreds of different biochemical reactions. It is important to normal blood pressure, good cardiovascular health, supporting normal blood sugar and aiding sugar metabolism.

Who Needs More Magnesium? Estimates put the number of Americans who are magnesium-deficient at close to 50%.
The daily magnesium requirement is about 400-500 mg. But estimates put the number of Americans who are magnesium-deficient at close to 50%.* Why such a high percentage? The prevalence of processed foods, like refined grains, in western diets is one prominent theory.

Less Magnesium, More Research 
The high incidence of magnesium deficiency in this country, along with the potential consequences to American health, intrigued Dr. Bruce Ames. But the co-inventor of the Juvenon formula, also a world-renowned expert on anti-aging medicine, was frustrated by the lack of scientific information available.

To explain/examine the connection, Dr. Ames and colleague, Dr. David W. Killilea, undertook a study with an additional goal: quantifying how long it would take to impact health, at the cellular level, on a magnesium-deficient diet. (See this month’s “Research Update.”)

Cellular Study 
The Ames Laboratory cultured human fibroblasts (cells that make structural components which form tissue framework) in varying magnesium concentrations for extended periods of time. For comparison purposes, fibroblasts were also genetically altered and cultured under the same conditions.

After several months of low-magnesium incubation, normal human fibroblasts became “old.”After several months of low-magnesium incubation, normal human fibroblasts became “old,” as measured by specific cellular markers associated with aging. The low-magnesium cells’ ability to reproduce by division was also impaired. Consequently, the cell population declined with time, as compared to fibroblasts grown in higher magnesium concentrations.

Does this apparent correlation between magnesium deficiency and lack of cell repopulation help to explain how such a deficiency may impact our overall health and well being? (Additionally, the researchers speculate that the magnesium deficiency may also impair the cell’s oxidant defense system, allowing increased oxidative damage at the cellular level.)

Cellular Mutation
In contrast, the compromised fibroblasts in low-magnesium culture did not lose their ability to divide. This may be due to a mutation causing specific cell division check points, which normally require magnesium for activation, to remain permanently “turned on.” Studies of these cells are ongoing. They may have significant relevance in the future, potentially helping to reduce free radical damage at the cellular level.

Defense Against Deficiency
What steps can we take to avoid magnesium deficiency? Current recommendations include modifying our diets to include fewer processed and more magnesium-rich foods. In other words, eat more whole grains, legumes, green vegetables (like spinach), coldwater fish and shellfish. But keep in mind that, as a salt, magnesium can be lost in cooking.

For various reasons – age, stress, genetic profile, some of us may require more magnesium than even an improved diet can provide. Under these conditions, it may be beneficial to take a supplement: 400-500 mg of elemental magnesium per day.

One of the clinical symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is a decrease in serum calcium levels. The body automatically adjusts to maintain a set ratio of magnesium to calcium. So, it may be even more advantageous to supplement your diet with magnesium and calcium together.

*Intake estimates generated by national surveys, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).


Research Update

It has been estimated that over 50% of the U.S. population are not obtaining sufficient amounts of the element magnesium*, a micronutrient essential for maintaining cellular health and necessary to promote optimal health and well being. In a recent study, researchers in California, at the Nutrition and Metabolism Center, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, addressed the consequences of long-term exposure to moderate magnesium deficiency.

The purpose of the research, as published in the April 15, 2008 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was to learn more about the mechanisms that may underlie health issues reported by people on magnesium-deficient diets. The experiments involved human cells in culture and the results indicated that senescence is accelerated in cells grown in a nutrient environment moderately deficient in this mineral.

The study’s authors speculate that the senescent cells don’t divide and replace old, worn-out cells. They suggest this may partially explain an increased incidence of certain health conditions. They also hypothesize that magnesium deficiency may impair the tissues’ capacity to activate antioxidant defense mechanisms, potentially impacting free radical damage at the cellular level.

Click here to read the full article including procedures and analysis.
“Magnesium deficiency accelerates cellular senescence in cultured human fibroblasts”
PNAS | April 15, 2008 | vol. 105 | no. 15 | 5768-5773

*Intake estimates generated by national surveys, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

This Research Update column highlights articles related to recent scientific inquiry into the process of human aging. It is not intended to promote any specific ingredient, regimen, or use and should not be construed as evidence of the safety, effectiveness, or intended uses of the Juvenon product. The Juvenon label should be consulted for intended uses and appropriate directions for use of the product.

Ask Ben
Dr. Treadwell answers your questions about Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement

QUESTION:  Is your Juvenon dosage recommendation of two per day based on weight or some other variable(s)?   — B.

ANSWER: There are several factors involved in determining the optimum dose of the compounds in Juvenon Cellular Health Supplements. Our recommendation is based on Juvenon trials as well as a number of human clinical investigations, over the past 40 years, in which the compounds in the supplement were given individually in relation to various health concerns. 

A small percentage of people find two tablets per day to be too much (makes them too hyper) or too little. The variation in dose response can be attributed to weight, age, diet, gene profile and metabolism, among other reasons.

The best way to fine-tune your dose is to start with one tablet per day and, after a two-week period, increase the dose to two per day. After another three weeks, you may want to try three Juvenon per day to see if there is an additional boost in energy level.

Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D., is a former Harvard Medical School associate professor and member of Juvenon’s Scientific Advisory Board.

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