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079: What to do when serum magnesium is high but RBC magnesium is low?

Masterjohn Q&A Files Episode 79


The magnesium in the blood and the hair is high. When you say blood, I'm assuming this is serum or plasma because the RBC magnesium is low. I'm hoping that's not whole blood magnesium in which case it would be hard to separate from the RBC magnesium. But I mean even for whole blood, if the RBC magnesium is low and the blood magnesium is high, then the magnesium that's in the blood that's high is in the serum or plasma, not in the RBCs obviously.

Clearly this means that you're deficient in magnesium transport. You're not deficient in magnesium. So, the last thing that you should do is start blasting high-dose magnesium at that. Because not only is it not going to help, but you basically have two or three times the risk of harm from supplementing high-dose magnesium, because the harm of high-dose magnesium comes when your serum levels go to double the upper limit of the reference range. If your serum level is high, and your RBC is low, and you start blasting.

In other words, you want your serum magnesium to be a little over the top of the upper reference range in order to try to drive magnesium into the red blood cells. But you still need to measure it regularly so that you know that you're not anywhere near twice the top of the upper reference range. Then just do what you can to maximize the other factors. Insulin, salt, and B6 is what I think there.

This Q&A can also be found as part of a much longer episode, here:

Harnessing the Power of Nutrients
Recording and Transcript of Ask Me Anything About Nutrition | March 4, 2019
Watch now (157 min) | On March 4, you joined me in a live Zoom meeting to ask me anything about nutrition, and here’s the full recording! We talk about things like: How much spinach, broccoli, and kale is too much? Can frozen vegetables be trusted for their folate? Do cooked legumes lose folate when frozen…
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The Masterjohn Q&A Files
We use Zoom, a video chatting software, in webinar mode. You can ask your question anonymously in text, but you can also ask it publicly, and you can even get "on stage" and share your mic, web cam, or screen with everyone.
Chris Masterjohn, PhD