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You Ask, I Answer: Calcium & Magnesium

Posted Apr 08 2010 10:05pm

500_T1_W275_HThere are supplements that contain both calcium and magnesium, and yet I have read articles which suggest that these two minerals do not combine well and “compete” in order to enter cells.

Can you shed some light on this contradiction?

– Beth Guy
Portland, ME

Gladly.

Calcium and magnesium actually work in tandem in many ways.  That said, they also compete for absorption from receptors.  Consider them “frienemies”!

Competition for absorption is only a problem, though, when calcium to magnesium ratios are disproprotioante.

The ideal ratio for their consumption in one food or meal is 2:1 (calcium: magnesium).  Dairy products, for example, generally offer a 10:1 ratio.  Therefore, diets high in dairy can negatively impact magnesium absorption.

This, by the way, helps to explain why despite having some of the highest dairy intakes of the world, the United States also has such high rates of osteoporosis (remember, magnesium is key to bone health!).

If you’re buying a calcium supplement that also offers magnesium, make sure there’s a 2:1 ratio going on.  So, a 500 milligram calcium supplement should offer 250 milligrams of magnesium.  If it only offers 50 milligrams, put it back on the shelf.

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