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Your Water May Be Killing You
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Much of your daily magnesium should come from drinking water, but tap and bottled water often contain little or none! Don’t let this deplorable deficiency jeopardize your plaque-control program.

Humans evolved in a world where drinking water flowed from natural streams, rivers, and lakes rich in mineral content. Our bodies adapted to obtaining minerals, especially magnesium, from natural water sources.

In the modern industrial world, municipal and home water treatment converts “hard” into “soft” water and most magnesium is removed. It is not uncommon to have nearly zero quantities of magnesium in city water supplies. American municipal water is a mosaic of quality ranging from excellent to virtually undrinkable. Just sample the water on a state-to-state drive and you’ll immediately be struck with the variation in taste.

It’s no wonder that many people have turned to bottled water in frustration, not to mention convenience. But bottled water has only served to worsen the situation. The great majority of brands sold in the U.S. contain little or no magnesium. If you rely exclusively on bottled water, you are likely obtaining no magnesium from your water.

Several studies have also demonstrated that magnesium intake is dropping precipitously because Americans indulge in magnesium-depleted processed foods. Soft drinks are manufactured using de-ionized water and are essentially devoid of magnesium. Carbonated beverages, like soda, contain phosphates that bind magnesium in the intestinal tract, making it unavailable for absorption.

As a result, the average American ingests substantially less than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 420 mg per day for men, 320 mg/day for women. Daily deficiencies of 30% or more each and every day are frighteningly common. In the cities with the greatest magnesium water content, only 30% of the RDA can be obtained by drinking two liters of tap water per day. More commonly, only 10–20% can be obtained.

Low magnesium—a worldwide health issue

Measurable increases in the numbers of sudden death victims have been reported in municipalities with the lowest water magnesium levels. These observations have caught the attention of national and international public health officials. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on the quality of drinking water cited 80 studies that have examined the relationship between cardiovascular death and water hardness (measured principally by magnesium and calcium content). The WHO concluded that magnesium content of water is indeed a cardiovascular risk and should become a priority for water supplementation.

“…results from the early epidemiologic studies suggest that sudden death rates in soft water areas are at least 10% greater than sudden death rates in hard water areas. If Mg supplementation causes even a modest decrease in sudden death rates a substantial number of lives might be saved.”

Mark J. Eisenberg, MD, MPH

McGill University

Magnesium—crucial nutrient for health

Magnesium is a crucial nutrient required for the proper functioning of approximately 300 enzymes in the human body. Functions as diverse as blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction, heart rhythm stabilization, and nervous system communication are all magnesium-dependent processes. Humans cannot survive without magnesium in the food or water supply.

Magnesium blood levels are routinely monitored in hospitalized patients, particularly if diuretics (e.g., furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide) are administered. It is an everyday fact of life in hospitals that when blood levels of magnesium are low, abnormal heart rhythms can suddenly develop. Dangerous ventricular rhythms (ventricular tachycardia and Torsade de Pointes) can result. People suffering from congestive heart failure are especially susceptible to these rhythms when magnesium levels are low. People prone to a common rhythm, atrial fibrillation, can suffer recurrences due to low magnesium levels. In the hospital, magnesium is easily replaced through intravenous supplementation.

Blood magnesium levels are, however, poor reflections of true body (intracellular) magnesium. If blood magnesium is low, you do indeed have low—very low— cellular magnesium levels. But if your blood magnesium is normal, you may still have low cellular or tissue levels of magnesium. The most striking reduction in tissue magnesium is found in heart muscle (myocardium). Unfortunately, determination of tissue magnesium levels is not easy to obtain in living, breathing humans. In one study, only 7.7% of coronary patients were low in blood measures of magnesium, while tissue levels were reduced in an astounding 53%. (Some cardiologists will therefore administer intravenous magnesium to patients with rhythm disorders, even when blood magnesium is in the normal range.) In effect, a blood magnesium test only helps if it’s low. Normal levels don’t necessarily mean anything.

Then how do you know whether your tissue magnesium level is low? Several signs can tip you off:

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