Magnesium: The Lamp of Life – Chlorophyll, DNA, DHEA and Cholesterol

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Inside chlorophyll is the lamp of life and that lamp is magnesiumd

The capture of light energy from the sun is magnesium dependent. Magnesium is bound as the central atom of the porphyrin ring of the green plant pigment chlorophyll. Magnesium is the element that causes plants to be able to convert light into energy and chlorophyll is identical to hemoglobin except the magnesium atom at the center has been taken out and iron put in. The whole basis of life and the food chain is seen in the sunlight-chlorophyll-magnesium chain.  Since animals and humans obtain their food supply by eating plants magnesium can be said to be the source of life for it is at the heart of chlorophyll and the process of photosynthesis.

A huge step forward for early life was the development of chlorophyll, a molecule that captures light energy from the sun in a process called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll systems convert energy from visible light into small energy-rich molecules easy for cells to use. The harnessing of the energy of visible light led to a vast expansion of early life-forms. Fossilized layers, three and half billion years old, have been found with evidence of  blue-green algae that lived on top of tidal rocks.

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Chlorophyll a (minus the alkyl side chain for clarity) with its magnesium core. Chlorophyll is recognized as one of nature’s riches sources of important nutrients where its rich green pigment is vital for the body’s rapid assimilation of amino acids and for the synthesis of enzymes.

Magnesium is needed by plants to form chlorophyll which is the substance that makes plants green. Without magnesium sitting inside the heart of chlorophyll, plants would not be able to take nutrition from the sun because the process of photosynthesis would not go on. When magnesium is deficient things begin to die. In reality one cannot take a breath, move a muscle, or think a thought without enough magnesium in our cells. Because magnesium is contained in chlorophyll it is considered an essential plant mineral salt.

Without chlorophyll, plants are unable to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide. There is no life without magnesium.

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Magnesium is a necessary element for all living organisms both animal and plant. Chlorophyll is structured around a magnesium atom, while in animals, magnesium is a key component of cells, bones, tissues and just about every physiological process you can think of. Magnesium is primarily an intracellular cation; roughly 1% of whole-body magnesium is found extracellularly, and the free intracellular fraction is the portion regulating enzyme pathways inside the cells. Life packs the magnesium jealously into the cells, every drop of it is precious.

Insulin and Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for both the action of insulin and the manufacture of insulin.

Magnesium is a basic building block to life and is present in ionic form throughout the full landscape of human physiology. Without insulin though, magnesium doesn’t get transported from our blood into our cells where it is most needed. When Dr. Jerry Nadler of the Gonda Diabetes Center at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California, and his colleagues placed 16 healthy people on magnesium-deficient diets, their insulin became less effective at getting sugar from their blood into their cells, where it’s burned or stored as fuel. In other words, they became less insulin sensitive or what is called insulin resistant. And that’s the first step on the road to both diabetes and heart disease.

Insulin is a common denominator, a central figure in life as is magnesium. The task of insulin is to store excess nutritional resources.This system is an evolutionary development used to save energy and other nutritional necessities in times (or hours) of abundance in order to survive in times of hunger. Little do we appreciate that insulin is not just responsible for regulating sugar entry into the cells but also magnesium, one of the most important substances for life. It is interesting to note here that the kidneys are working at the opposite end physiologically dumping from the blood excess nutrients that the body does not need or cannot process in the moment.

Controlling the level of blood sugars is only one of the many functions of insulin. Insulin plays a central role in storing magnesium but if our cells become resistant to insulin, or if we do not produce enough insulin, then we have a difficult time storing magnesium in the cells where it belongs. When insulin processing becomes problematic magnesium gets excreted through our urine instead and this is the basis of what is called magnesium wasting disease.

There is a strong relationship between magnesium and insulin action. Magnesium is important for the effectiveness of insulin. A reduction of magnesium in the cells strengthens insulin resistance. [1],[2]

Low serum and intracellular magnesium concentrations are associated with insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, and decreased insulin secretion. [3],[4],[5] Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity thus lowering insulin resistance. Magnesium and insulin need each other. Without magnesium, our pancreas won’t secrete enough insulin–or the insulin it secretes won’t be efficient enough–to control our blood sugar.

Magnesium in our cells helps the muscles to relax but if we can’t store magnesium because the cells are resistant then we lose magnesium which makes the blood vessels constrict, affects our energy levels, and causes an increase in blood pressure. We begin to understand the intimate connection between diabetes and heart disease when we look at the closed loop between declining magnesium levels and declining insulin efficiency.

Though it would be a long stretch of the longest giraffe’s neck to compare insulin with chlorophyll we are walking a trail at the very nuclear core of life.  It’s the magnesium trail and we find to our surprise that it takes us into intimate contact with the very structure and foundation of life. The dedication of this chapter is to the beauty of magnesium, to its meaning in life, in health and in medicine.

We were talking about chlorophyll and now insulin and putting magnesium in-between. Walking further along is the DHEA magnesium story and the DNA magnesium story. And then there is the cholesterol magnesium story. Every part of life is in love with magnesium except allopathic medicine which just cannot accept it in all its light, flame and beauty. Thousands of years ago the Chinese named it the beautiful metal and they were seeing something pharmaceutical medicine does not want to see for there is little money to be made from something so common.

Magnesium and DNA

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Mechanism of electric conductivity in DNA. Magnesium (silver circles)
with no surrounding water supplies holes (light-blue circles) to the DNA, which
is an insulator. The supplied holes move along the DNA (light-blue line).

Magnesium ions play critical roles in many aspects of cellular metabolism. Magnesium stabilizes structures of proteins, nucleic acids, and cell membranes by binding to the macromolecule’s surface and promote specific structural or catalytic activities of proteins, enzymes, or ribozymes. Magnesium has a critical role in cell division. It has been suggested that magnesium is necessary for the maintenance of an adequate supply of nucleotides for the synthesis of RNA and DNA.

Magnesium plays a critical role in vital DNA repair proteins. Magnesium ions synergetic effects on the active site geometry may affect the polymerase closing/opening trends. Single-stranded RNA are stabilized by magnesium ions.

Distinct structural features of DNA, such as the curvature of dA tracts, are important in the recognition, packaging, and regulation of DNA are magnesium dependent. Physiologically relevant concentrations of magnesium have been found to enhance the curvature of dA tract DNAs. The chemistry of water activated by a magnesium ion is central to the function of the DNA repair proteins, apurinic/apyrimidic endonuclease 1 (Ape1) and polymerase A (Pol A). These proteins are key constituents of the base excision repair (BER) pathway, a process that plays a critical role in preventing the cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of most spontaneous, alkylation, and oxidative DNA damage.[6]

Magnesium ions help guide polymerase selection for the correct nucleotide extends descriptions of polymerase pathways.[7]

Dr. Paul Ellis informs us that, “Magnesium ions are central to the function of the DNA repair proteins, apurinic/apyrimidic endonuclease 1 (Ape1) and polymerase A (Pol A). These proteins are key constituents of the base excision repair (BER) pathway, a process that plays a critical role in preventing the cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of most spontaneous, alkylation, and oxidative DNA damage.”[8] DNA polymerase is considered to be a holoenzyme since it requires a magnesium ion as a co-factor to function properly. DNA-Polymerase initiates DNA replication by binding to a piece of single-stranded DNA. This process corrects mistakes in newly-synthesized DNA.

DHEA – Magnesium – Cholesterol

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Low levels of DHEA are associated with loss of “pathology preventing” signaling between immune system cells.[9]

Dr. James Michael Howard says, “Cancer and infections are both increasing and one of the basic reasons is reduced availability of DHEA, which stems from magnesium deficiency.”  Also known as “mother of all steroid hormones” DHEA is converted in the body into several different hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. DHEA appears to restore immune balance and stimulate monocyte production (the cells that attack tumors), B-cell activity (the cells that fight disease-causing organisms), T-cell mobilization (infection fighting T-cells have DHEA binding sites), and protection of the thymus gland (which produces T-cells).[10] The data suggest that DHEA has a role in the neuro-endocrine regulation of the antibacterial immune resistance.[11]

All steroid hormones are created from cholesterol in a hormonal cascade. Cholesterol, that most maligned compound, is actually crucial for health and is the mother of hormones from the adrenal cortex, including cortisone, hydrocortisone, aldosterone, and DHEA. Cholesterol cannot be synthesized without magnesium and cholesterol is a vital component of many hormones. These hormones are interrelated, each performing a unique biological function with them all depending on magnesium for their function. Aldosterone interestingly needs magnesium to be produced and it also regulates magnesium’s balance.[12]

Dr. Mildred S. Seelig wrote, “Mg2+-ATP is the controlling factor for the rate-limiting enzyme in the cholesterol biosynthesis sequence that is targeted by the statin pharmaceutical drugs, comparison of the effects of Mg2+ on lipoproteins with those of the statin drugs is warranted. Formation of cholesterol in blood, as well as of cholesterol required in hormone synthesis, and membrane maintenance, is achieved in a series of enzymatic reactions that convert HMG-CoA to cholesterol. The rate-limiting reaction of this pathway is the enzymatic conversion of HMG CoA to mevalonate via HMG CoA. The statins and Mg inhibit that enzyme. Mg has effects that parallel those of statins. For example, the enzyme that deactivates HMG-CoA Reductase requires Mg, making Mg a Reductase controller rather than inhibitor. Mg is also necessary for the activity of lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase (LCAT), which lowers LDL-C and triglyceride levels and raises HDL-C levels.”[13]

Desaturase is another Mg-dependent enzyme involved in lipid metabolism which statins do not directly affect.

DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland and ovaries and converted to testosterone and estrogen. After being secreted by the adrenal glands, it circulates in the bloodstream as DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS) and is converted as needed into other hormones. Magnesium chloride, when applied transdermally, is reported by Dr. Norman Shealy to increase DHEA.[14] Dr. Shealy has determined that when the body is presented with adequate levels of magnesium at the cellular level, the body will begin to naturally produce DHEA and also DHEA-S.

Transdermal is the ultimate way to replenish cellular magnesium levels. Every cell in the body bathes and feeds in it and even DHEA levels are increased naturally, according to Dr. Norman Shealy

This effect is not seen in oral or intravenous magnesium administration and Dr. Shealy has a patent pending in this area. It is thought that transdermal application interacts in some way with the fatty tissues of the skin to create the affect. Studies link low levels of DHEA to chronic inflammation, immune dysfunction, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, Type-II diabetic complications, greater risk for certain cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis.


[1] Paolisso G, Scheen A, D’Onofrio F, Lefebvre P: Magnesium and glucose homeostasis. Diabetologia 33:511–514, 1990[Medline]

[2] Nadler JL, Buchanan T, Natarajan R, Antonipillai I, Bergman R, Rude R: Magnesium deficiency produces insulin resistance and increased thromboxane synthesis. Hypertension 21:1024–1029, 1993

[3]Ma J, Folsom AR, Melnick SL, Eckfeldt JH, Sharrett AR, Nabulsi AA, Hutchinson RG, Metcalf PA: Associations of serum and dietary magnesium with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, insulin, and carotid wall thickness: the ARIC study. J Clin Epidemiol 48:927–940, 1985

[4] Rosolova H, Mayer O Jr, Reaven GM: Insulin-mediated glucose disposal is decreased in normal subjects with relatively low plasma magnesium concentrations. Metabolism 49:418–420, 2000[Medline]

[5] Resnick LM, Gupta RK, Gruenspan H, Alderman MH, Laragh JH: Hypertension and peripheral insulin resistance: possible mediating role of intracellular free magnesium. Am J Hypertens 3:373–379, 1990[Medline]

[6] Magnesium Increases the Curvature of Duplex DNA That Contains dA Tracts. Bozidar Jerkovic and Philip H. Bolton. Chemistry Department, Wesleyan University. Biochemistry, 40 (31), 9406 -9411, 2001. 10.1021/bi010853j S0006-2960(01)00853-4

[7] Critical Role of Magnesium Ions in DNA Polymerase ?’s Closing and Active Site Assembly. Linjing Yang, Karunesh Arora, William A. Beard, Samuel H. Wilson, Tamar Schlick. Department of Chemistry and Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences,
New York University

[9] Verthelyi D, Petri M, Ylamus M, Klinman DM.  Retroviral Immunology Section, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA. Lupus. 2001;10(5):352-8.

[10] Le Vert, Suzanne, HGH: The Promise of Eternal Youth (New York: 1997, Avon Books), pages 25, 26, 93, 106, 153, 172. ISBN: 0-380-78885-3

[11] J. Med. Microbiol. 1999; 48: 425)

[12] 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. 

[13] Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 5, 501S-505S (2004) Comparison of Mechanism and Functional Effects of Magnesium and Statin Pharmaceuticals Andrea Rosanoff, PhD and Mildred S. Seelig, MD Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn (M.S.)

[14] http://www.betterway2health.com/cwr-dhea.htm (Last visited December 11, 2005)

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Comments:

  • R.

    your article is not correct: you write: “without magnesium plants are unable to convert light into energy”
    It is actually possible, they even do, they have carotenoids, which absorb in other wavelengths and transmit the energy to the chlorophyl in photosystem two,….and so on

  • rockesh

    very good post by our friend im from india and am very happy to know this information thank u

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  • http://britainswayforward.com steve

    Thanks for the information you have supplied, i was wondering if milk of magnesia, used for stomach upsets can be used as away of getting magnesium into the body?
    i have an interest in its use that i wont put here as it is personel and the wrong place to put the query.
    Thanks again for the information
    regards
    steve

    • Claudia French – IMVA Staff

      Dear Steve,

      Though some people think it can add to our bodily magnesium supplies, it generally is not the best or most effective way to do so. When taken orally as a laxative, the osmotic force of the magnesia suspension acts to draw fluids from the body and to retain those already within the lumen of the intestine, serving to distend the bowel, thus stimulating nerves within the colon wall, inducing peristalsis and resulting in evacuation of colonic contents, including the magnesium! But it has happened, though rarely, that toxicity can occur if too many laxative doses of MOM are taken.

      Small amounts of magnesium hydroxide (MOM) are sometimes used for cosmetic purposes, as an underarm deodorant, and it is even used as a common ingredient of home made magnesium bicarbonate.

      We at IMVA feel strongly that magnesium chloride, applied transdermally, is the best way to increase magnesium levels in the body.

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  • Patricus Patterson

    Thank you very much for the excellent information

  • http://www.advice-hgh.com MelvinH

    Is there a risk of skin irritation or discoloration from the transdermaldelivery method?

    • claudia

      MelvinH:

      There should not be any skin discoloration from the use of transdermal magnesium chloride.

      Some sensitive people report some irritation initially (itchiness), which ususally goes away after a period of adjustment. Magnesium chloride can be applied at a more dilute solution to overcome this (mixed 50-50 with pure water)

      Sincerely,
      Claudia French RN, LPHA