Magnesium, Potassium, Taurine: the Miracle Nutrient Trio
Majid Ali, M.D.
140 West End Avenue, New York, NY 1023
Magnesium, Potassium, Taurine
In 1986, I began formulating nutrient protocols for broad goals of health preservation, disease prevention, and reversal of chronic diseases. Recognizing the central importance of restoring bowel health and gut flora (gut microbiome, in the prevailing scientific terminology, I focused on protocols for bowel health. Of the twelve bowel formulations I composed and clinically tested, the one I found most valuable for all chronic diseases was the formulation presented below.
1. Magnesium Sulfate* 150 mg 1
2. Potassium citrate 50 mg
3 Taurine 250 mg
- As oxide, carbonate, sulfate, and hydroxide
I must confess I am very reverential to magnesium. Life began on our planet Earth with conversion of solar energy into chemical bond energy. Chemical bond energy is the thread which holds together the posies of life form flowers.Chlorophyll converts solar energy into chemical bond energy and is a magnesium chelate. ATPase and Acetyl CoA are premium molecules in human energy dynamics. Magnesium is a cofactor for both. Methionine-homocysteine-cysteine-taurine and cysteine-glutathione sulfhydryl systems are essential life-preserving antioxidant defenses of the body. These pathways are magnesium dependent. The first step in glucose metabolism is conversion of glucose to glucose-6-phosphate. This reaction requires hexokinase which is a magnesium-dependent enzyme. Delta-6-desaturase is a critical enzyme in the conversion of fatty acids of plant and animal origin into longer chains and unsaturated fatty acids essential for human metabolism. Delta-6-desaturase is a magnesium dependent enzyme. Magnesium serves as a cofactor in diverse reactions involved in DNA and protein synthesis. Magnesium is essential for many enzymatic reactions that use vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). These vitamins, in turn, are required for biosynthesis of essential neurotransmitter such as serotonin, GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) and melatonin.
Magnesium is a cofactor for the metabolism of yet other neurotransmitter such as acetylcholine. Increased intracellular levels of calcium poison cellular enzymes, hence the fascination of our drug industry with calcium channel blockers. Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker.
Magnesium serves as a cofactor in many biochemical reactions that are involved the maintenance of intracellular
concentration of other cations such as potassium, sodium and calcium. Magnesium is also a cofactor for a large number of enzymes such as kinases.
Acutely ill hospitalized patients almost always become magnesium-poor within a few days. Such deficiency almost always goes unrecognized because we continue to insist that a deficiency state must be documented with blood tests before embarking upon magnesium replacement therapy. The fact that only less than 1% of total body magnesium exists in the blood does not seem important to us (skeletal and intracellular compartments contain approximately 53% and 46% of magnesium respectively). We fail to see the obvious: Increased oxidant stress on cell membranes associated with illness and resulting in hospitalization leads to leakage of magnesium out of the cell and into the extracellular space. In addition, it masks the intracellular magnesium deficiency. The ideal test for functional magnesium deficiency, in my judgment, is an intravenous therapeutic trial It is my clinical observation that oral magnesium supplements frequently fail to replenish magnesium stores within the cells.
In patients with chronic fatigue, myalgia, fibromyositis, and persistent muscle spasms and pain, oral magnesium supplements often give poor results while intravenous magnesium therapy almost always gives rapid and satisfactory clinical benefits. The same holds for patients with asthma, irregular heart rhythm, and severe backache. I once used intravenous magnesium along with other micronutrients for one of my patients with severe depression in a desperate — and fortunately successful — attempt to avoid hospitalization (this patient had very traumatic memory of previous hospital admission for depression). Indeed, there is extensive evidence that disorders of mood, memory and mentation, and psychiatric symptoms such as confusion, disorientation, agitation and depression are common in magnesium-deficient patient (JAMA 224:1749; 1973).
Magnesium is often poorly absorbed; clinical studies indicate absorption rate ranging from 50% to 70% in healthy
subjects on normal diet (Shils, M.E. in Modem nutrition in health and disease Philadelphia: Lea & Fibiger, pp. 159-192).
The intestinal absorption of magnesium is further decreased in magnesium-deficient states ( Intern. J. Neuroscience 61:87; 1991). Indeed, correction of magnesium deficiency in many patients is so problematic that a genetic basis for reduced magnesium absorption has been considered (Cecil Textbook o f Medicine 1988).
I know my advice to use intravenous magnesium drip as a test for functional magnesium deficiency in states of accelerated oxidative stress will rankle many of my colleagues in mainstream medicine. I stand by my recommendation. It is one of the most valuable diagnostic tool for the clinician caring for people with unremitting suffering. I refer the professional reader to my review article Magnesium and Oxidative Cell Membrane Injury that appeared in the spring 1992 issue of The Environmental Physician published by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Denver, Colorado.
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The current AI for potassium for women and men ages 14 and up is 4700 mg. AI for pregnancy equals 4700 mg/day. AI for lactation equals 5100 mg/day. For infants 0–6 months 400 mg, 6–12 months 700 mg, 1–13 years increasing from 3000 to 4500 mg/day. As for safety, the IOM also sets Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for vitamins and minerals, but for potassium the evidence was insufficient, so no UL established.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) refers to the collective set of information as Dietary Reference Values, with Population Reference Intake (PRI) instead of RDA, and Average Requirement instead of EAR. AI and UL defined the same as in United States. For people ages 15 and older the AI is set at 3,500 mg/day. AIs for pregnancy is 3,500 mg/day, for lactation 4,000 mg/day. For children ages 1–14 years the AIs increase with age from 800 to 2,700 mg/day. These AIs are lower than the U.S. RDAs. The EFSA reviewed the same safety question and decided that there was insufficient data to establish a UL for potassium.
For U.S. food and dietary supplement labeling purposes the amount in a serving is expressed as a percent of Daily Value (%DV). For potassium labeling purposes 100% of the Daily Value was 3500 mg, but as of May 2016 it has been revised to 4700 mg. A table of the pre-change adult Daily Values is provided at Reference Daily Intake. Food and supplement companies had until July 2018 to comply with this change.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) sets Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), or Adequate Intakes (AIs) for when there is not sufficient information to set EARs and RDAs. Collectively the EARs, RDAs, AIs and ULs are referred to as Dietary Reference Intakes.
Diverse food choices are the best sources for meeting physiological requirement for potassium. Banana as a source of potassium is often recommended by doctors. There are far too many calories in sugar in this fruit so I do not consider it the optimal choice.
kiwifruit, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, coconut, avocados, apricots, parsnips and turnips are rich inn potassium contents .Foods with high ce, potatoes, bananas, coconut, avocados, apricots, parsnips and turnipsFoods with high sources of potassium include kiwifruit, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, coconut, avocados, apricots, parsnips and turnips, although many other fruits, vegetables, legumes, and meats contain potassium.
Common foods very high in potassium:
- beans (white beans and others), dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, and others), baked potatoes, dried fruit (apricots, peaches, prunes, raisins; figs and dates), baked squash, yogurt, fish (salmon), avocado, and banana;
- nuts (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, etc.) and seeds (squash, pumpkin, sunflower)
The most concentrated foods (per 100 grams) are:
- dried herbs, sun dried tomatoes, dark chocolate, whey powder, paprika, yeast extract, rice bran, molasses, and dry roasted soybeans
High blood pressure/Hypertension
A severe shortage of potassium in body fluids may cause a potentially fatal condition known as hypokalemia. Hypokalemia typically results from loss of potassium through diarrhea, diuresis, or vomiting. Symptoms are related to alterations in membrane potential and cellular metabolism. Symptoms include muscle weakness and cramps, paralytic ileus, ECG abnormalities, intestinal paralysis, decreased reflex response and (in severe cases) respiratory paralysis, alkalosis and arrhythmia.
Adult women in the United States consume on average half the AI, for men two-thirds. For all adults, fewer than 5% exceed the AI. Similarly, in the European Union, insufficient potassium intake is widespread.
Side effects and toxicity
Gastrointestinal symptoms are the most common side effects of potassium supplements, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. Taking potassium with meals or taking a microencapsulated form of potassium may reduce gastrointestinal side effects.
Hyperkalemia is the most serious adverse reaction to potassium. Hyperkalemia occurs when potassium builds up faster than the kidneys can remove it. It is most common in individuals with renal failure. Symptoms of hyperkalemia may include tingling of the hands and feet, muscular weakness, and temporary paralysis. The most serious complication of hyperkalemia is the development of an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), which can lead to cardiac arrest.
Although hyperkalemia is rare in healthy individuals, oral doses greater than 18 grams taken at one time in individuals not accustomed to high intakes can lead to hyperkalemia. Supplements sold in the U.S. are supposed to contain no more than 99 mg of potassium per serving.
Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid, but it is often referred to as an amino acid, a chemical that is a required building block of protein. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat and fish.
You may see taurine referred to as “a conditional amino acid,” to distinguish it from “an essential amino acid.” A “conditional amino acid” can be manufactured by the body, but an “essential amino acid” cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet. People who, for one reason or another, cannot make taurine, must get all the taurine they need from their diet or supplements. For example, supplementation is necessary in infants who are not breastfed because their ability to make taurine is not yet developed and cow’s milk does not provide enough taurine. So taurine is often added to infant formulas. People who are being tube-fed often need taurine as well, so it is added to the nutritional products that they use. Excess taurine is excreted by the kidneys.
Some people take taurine supplements as medicine to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure, liver disease (hepatitis), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), and cystic fibrosis. Other uses include seizure disorders (epilepsy), autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eye problems (disorders of the retina), diabetes, psychosis and alcoholism. It is also used to improve mental performance, to prevent the side effects of chemotherapy and as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells of the body from damage that results from certain chemical reactions involving oxygen (oxidation).
How does it work?
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why taurine seems to help congestive heart failure (CHF). There is some evidence that it improves the function of the left ventricle, one of the chambers of the heart. Taurine might also improve heart failure because it seems to lower blood pressure and calm the sympathetic nervous system, which is often too active in people with high blood pressure and CHF. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that responds to stress.