Magnesium & Our Immune System

Do you get sick easily and often? Learn how the most critical processes and cellular functions of a strong immune system biologically depend on magnesium.

Page Overview:

This page looks at magnesium’s key roles in the major aspects of immune function, and the importance of maintaining healthy magnesium levels to prevent illness:

  1. Magnesium in our primary immune barriers: skin and stomach.
  2. Magnesium and restorative sleep for immune strength.
  3. Magnesium in the function of immune cells.
  4. Magnesium prevents iron overload which otherwise feeds bacteria.
  5. Modern nutrition & stress make it impossible to get enough magnesium from diet.

We then look at nutritional, behavioural and supplemental solutions we can take to restore our magnesium and maintain a healthy immune system.

Ξ Helpful tip

This page has a lot of powerful info to help you resolve your problems. 

If you’re busy or want to understand things better, please read each section’s quick summary.

1. Magnesium & our immune barriers:

Ξ Summary

Our skin has an entire immune system whose immune cells need magnesium for their fuel, and for the production of bacteria-fighting molecules.

Our stomach makes acid that kills most bacteria in our food. The parietal cells of our stomach need magnesium to make this acid.

Magnesium & our skin

Skin is not only one of our largest organs, but also one of the most diverse in terms of its functions, with its immune function being one of its most important and complex roles.[1,2]

Our skin’s main immune contribution is its physical barrier, which depends on the proteins collagen and elastin. They provide structural integrity, durability, and elasticity. Both of these proteins are made via a process called protein synthesis, which is impossible without magnesium. [3-7] We need this magnesium-dependent process in all areas of skin including keratonocytes:  our skin’s special cells that not only add to its protective barrier, but also produce anti-bacterial peptides which further protect us from bacterial infection.[8]

As well as a physical barrier, our skin also has its own specialized immune system[9,10] consisting of both innate cells from birth as well as adaptive cells developed in response to skin’s constant interaction with everyday life.[11]

In fact, our skin’s immune system has more immune cells than our inner immune system![12] 

Just like our primary immune system in our blood, these cells include dendritic cells, neutrophils, killer cells, macrophages and lymphocytes – as well as other cells unique to only our skin’s immune system.

We now know that these cells need magnesium for protein synthesis in order to make various bacteria-fighting proteins, as well as to repair themselves daily. Yet magnesium plays an even more essential role to the survival of all these cells: they need it to make energy to stay alive and work properly. Learn & watch more about magnesium and energy metabolism here. 

Magnesium, saliva, and our stomach

Various digestive organs also play key roles in immune function, including our salivary glands whose saliva not only helps to digest carbohydrates, but also keeps oral bacteria at bay.[13,14] Click here to learn about magnesium’s key role in salivary health and function.

Due to its extremely acidic environment, our stomach also keeps invaders from entering our bloodstream and activating our internal immune system:

When food passes into our stomach, our stomach cells pump hydrochloric (stomach) acid into the stomach’s cavity. One of stomach acid’s key roles is to kill any harmful bacteria from the food we ingest.[15] The acidity of a healthy active stomach is so high that very few foodborne bacteria can survive.

Magnesium is critical not only to overall stomach and digestive function, but without it the special pumps in our stomach’s perietal cells are incapable of producing stomach acid. [16-18] Read the magnesium & digestion page to see magnesium’s other roles stomach function.

2. Magnesium & sleep for immunity

Ξ Summary

Our skin has an entire immune system whose immune cells need magnesium for their fuel, and for the production of bacteria-fighting molecules.

Our stomach makes acid that kills most bacteria in our food. The parietal cells of our stomach need magnesium to make this acid.

content coming soon

1. Magnesium & our immune cells:

Ξ Summary

Our skin has an entire immune system whose immune cells need magnesium for their fuel, and for the production of bacteria-fighting molecules.

Our stomach makes acid that kills most bacteria in our food. The parietal cells of our stomach need magnesium to make this acid.

content coming soon

4. Magnesium, iron and bacteria

Ξ Summary

Our skin has an entire immune system whose immune cells need magnesium for their fuel, and for the production of bacteria-fighting molecules.

Our stomach makes acid that kills most bacteria in our food. The parietal cells of our stomach need magnesium to make this acid.

content coming soon

5. Why Our Magnesium Levels Are Now Dropping:

Figure 1 is a general representation of the trends of the three primary factors that affect the magnesium levels in our body everyday. The fourth line represents our ability to make our own magnesium, which will always remain at zero.

  1. Total environmental stress that drains our magnesium
  2. Magnesium in our soil and healthy foods
  3. Our intestine’s ability to absorb magnesium from food and pills

Our adrenals (stress glands) are magnesium-dependent. Stress depletes magnesium, and inflames our intestine, hindering absorption of dietary magnesium. (Even a healthy gut only absorbs 30-40% of a food’s magnesium.)

This means our immune system is competing for its magnesium not only with our other vital functions, but also with increasing amounts of environmental stress and poor intestinal Mg absorption.

A magnesium deficiency graph that shows how our magnesium intake has declined since 1950, while our sources of magnesium depletion have increased. The depletion of our soils and the increasing environmental stress show us that we can no longer get enough magnesium without supplementation. This strengthens the importance of magnesium and immune health.

Summary & Solutions:

Summary:

Many people make the mistake of taking massive amounts of vitamin D, whilst not taking magnesium, thus only worsening their already magnesium-deficient state.

Now, because our stomach needs magnesium to release acid and prevent bacterial overgrowth and invaders from entering our body, this vitamin D-based magnesium depletion only increases the need for more immune system support! It becomes a vicious cycle.

Doctors and scientists have now agreed that based on the levels of magnesium in even our healthiest foods, it is impossible to get enough magnesium without supplementation. The most effective way to support our immune system and fuel it without causing harmful imbalances, is with a bio-available form of naturally occurring magnesium.

Solutions: Safe & smart magnesium restoration

To restore magnesium levels effectively and increase nervous system and whole-body health, four measures should be taken:

  1. Take a natural, quality magnesium-chloride supplement to restore whole-body magnesium levels. This is the basis of any magnesium restoration protocol.
  2. Take a magnesium-taurate or a magnesium l-threonate supplement which are also helpful for mental health.
  3. Eat a magnesium-smart diet and avoid the tricky magnesium-rich foods.
  4. Do your best to reduce the environmental, psychological and physical factors that cause stress and thus deplete magnesium.

Click here to see the magnesium-chloride supplement we trust and recommend.

Click here to learn more about the other types of secondary supplements, including magnesium-taurate and L-threonate.

Click here to learn more about magnesium deficiency and the rest of your body parts.

++ References
  1. The Multitasking Organ: Recent Insights into Skin Immune Function. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074761311005127
  2. The skin as an immune organ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022320/
  3. The linkage between magnesium binding and RNA folding.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11955006
  4. Bidentate RNA-magnesium clamps: on the origin of the special role of magnesium in RNA folding.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21173199
  5. A thermodynamic framework for the magnesium-dependent folding of RNA.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12717727
  6. RNA-magnesium-protein interactions in large ribosomal subunit.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22712611 
  7. A recurrent magnesium-binding motif provides a framework for the ribosomal peptidyl transferase center.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19279186
  8. Review: Skin and the Immune System. www.omicsonline.org/review-skin-and-the-immune-system-2155-9554.S2-003.php?aid=4587
  9. The skin immune system: Its cellular constituents and their interactions. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0167569986901118
  10. The skin immune system (SIS): distribution and immunophenotype of lymphocyte subpopulations in normal human skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3494791
  11. Skin immune sentinels in health and disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19763149
  12. Skin resident T cells: the ups and downs of on site immunity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922675/
  13. Saliva Composition and Functions: A Comprehensive Review.https://www.unc.edu/courses/2008ss2/obio/720/001/2008_Readings/070308_saliva_review.pdf
  14. Saliva: its role in health and disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3053879/
  15. The role of gastric acid in preventing foodborne disease and how bacteria overcome acid conditions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12870767
  16. Cell biology of acid secretion by the parietal cell. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12500969
  17. The gastric HK-ATPase: structure, function, and inhibition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079481/
  18. Acid secretion and the H,K ATPase of stomach. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2589780/
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