Did you know magnesium controls more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body? Or that it is a go-to medicine in hospital emergency rooms that is used to manage life-threatening arrhythmias, heart failure, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia?
Despite this, conventional medicine doesn’t pay much attention to the benefits offered by magnesium. It is both sad and unfortunate as magnesium is a remarkable mineral with many ‘talents’. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s role in detoxification and protecting against cardiovascular disease is simply amazing. Experts call magnesium ‘nature’s original chill pill’, stressing its incredible role in calming the nervous system and in relieving stress.
We are here to discuss the role of magnesium in providing protection against radiation exposure. The need for detoxification and chelation has never been so strong. We are living in a world where we are commonly and continuously exposed to heavy metals and man-made chemicals not to mention the fear of radioactive exposure from a number of sources. Well, this is a place where magnesium fits in perfectly.
Benefits of magnesium in radiation exposure
- Magnesium is an anti-oxidant
Exposure to radioactive elements and heavy metals causes excessive production of free radicals. These toxic molecules wreak havoc by destroying the delicate structure of cell membranes, proteins, lipids and DNA. DNA damage, in particular, can cause mutations leading to chromosomal abnormalities and unrestricted cell division (cancer).
Magnesium is a well-known anti-oxidant that destroys free radicals. And we are soon going to find out how magnesium is an integral component of the body’s DNA repair mechanism. Yes, our body has the inherent capacity to repair errors in DNA replication, but for that it needs nutrients and magnesium is an important part of this arsenal.
- Magnesium helps in glutathione synthesis
Ionizing radiations rob the body of its magnesium as well as glutathione stores. It is not difficult to figure out why. When exposed to radiations or heavy metals, our body makes use of magnesium, glutathione and other anti-oxidants to neutralize the damaging effects, exhausting their reserves. Clearly, you need to make sure your body is not deficient in these powerful helpers, and magnesium is an essential co-factor in the production of glutathione – one of the most important and powerful anti-oxidant that our body can make on its own.
Magnesium activates an enzyme called gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) that “plays an important role in the synthesis of glutathione. Out of all the enzymes involved in the gamma-glutamyl cycle GGT is the only one located on the outside of plasma cell membranes where it breaks down circulating extracellular glutathione and releases all-important cysteine for intracellular reassembling of glutathione” .
Glutathione, also known as the father of all anti-oxidants, helps the body to limit the production of free radicals and get rid of toxins, pollutants and heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic. Did you know glutathione is found in high concentration in our liver, lungs and kidneys, the major detoxing organs in the body?
- Magnesium in detoxification
Magnesium is utilized in various detoxification pathways. It helps in removing aluminium, cadmium, lead and mercury from the body. If you are deficient in magnesium, you will accumulate toxins, acid and heavy metals – leading to low grade, chronic inflammation, premature aging and all sorts of degenerative ailments. Studies have linked accumulation of heavy metals and toxins in the brain to neuro-degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Magnesium deficiency leads to the increasing production of free radicals and their by-products. This makes cells, tissues and organs in the body more susceptible to oxidative damage caused by radiation exposure.
In addition, low magnesium status means poor glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione, as we just discussed, helps the body to get rid of all kinds of toxins and chemicals around us, such as alcohol, cigarette smoking, drugs, pesticides and other chemicals. Glutathione also protects the body from the harmful effects of radiations. And guess what, our body needs magnesium to produce glutathione.
- Magnesium in DNA repair
The DNA is a two-stranded molecule that encloses critical genetic information needed for cell reproduction and to encode all the proteins in the body. Any change in the DNA structure can cause mutations and cancer.
Many factors compromise the integrity of this fragile hereditary material, such as errors in DNA replication and exposure to environmental toxins like UV rays, smoking, pesticides, X-rays and ionizing radiations.
DNA damage is happening all the time. Researchers estimates that an individual cell can suffer up to one million DNA changes per day. However, our body is equipped with natural mechanisms to repair this damage and prevent mutations. We will not go into too much of these details but chemical reversal, base excision repair, and double-stranded break repair are some of these repair processes.
Magnesium is not only required to make DNA and but also helps to stabilize DNA structures. The mineral also plays an important role in repairing DNA damage. More specifically, magnesium is required for the proper functioning of proteins or enzymes used in DNA repair. For example, it is an essential co-factor for DNA polymerase – an enzyme that plays an important role in DNA synthesis, replication and proof-reading (correcting errors during DNA replication).
Research suggests that “as essential cofactor in nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and mismatch repair, magnesium is required for the removal of DNA damage generated by environmental mutagens, endogenous processes, and DNA replication.” 
In a nutshell, deficiency in magnesium adversely affects your body’s ability to:
- Fight free radicals (that cause oxidative damage to cells and tissues)
- Flush out radioactive particles from the body
- Chelate heavy metals like aluminium, cadmium, lead and mercury
- Synthesise glutathione, an important anti-oxidant and detoxifying agent
- Repair DNA damage caused by radiations
It is important that your body has enough magnesium to counter the damaging effects of radiations, heavy metals and other toxins that seem to be all around us. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is more widespread than you can imagine. Taking magnesium supplements can help you increase your magnesium levels. However, transdermal magnesium (for example magnesium oil) is a much more effective strategy to get the mineral boost required. Oral magnesium can cause diarrhea and is not completely absorbed by the body. When applied on skin, magnesium bypasses the gastro-intestinal activity and is absorbed much faster and more effectively.
- Benefits of magnesium and its role as a glutathione cofactor. Immune Health Science.
- Hartwig A. Role of magnesium in genomic stability. Mutation Research [serial online]. April 18, 2001;475(1-2):113-121.