Like vitamin D3, magnesium seems to be one of those supplements that actually holds water when put up against the rigors of real world application. The negatives correlated with deficiencies in the mineral, make magnesium a contender for the single bullet approach; if you had to take one supplement, this might be it.
Magnesium supplementation has been found to reduce inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) as well as interleukin-6. This is significant because all three of these inflammatory messengers (CRP, IL-6, TNF-a) are found to be associated with hair loss.
Dr. Eades explains the radical decrease in CRP when supplementing with magnesium:
"The paper points out that the majority of adults in the US (68%) don’t consume even the RDA of magnesium, which is, as far as I’m concerned, woefully low. Magnesium is an unbelievably important mineral for all sorts of body processes. Some 300+ enzymes use magnesium as a cofactor; magnesium helps regulate potassium status; magnesium acts as nature’s own calcium channel blocker, helping blood pressure stay down and blood vessels stay pliable; magnesium builds bones; magnesium is anti-inflammatory. The list of magnesium’s virtues goes on and on."
Those prematurely losing their hair have much more to worry about than fleeting vanity. Early balding can be used as a marker for a constellation of health ailments known as metabolic syndrome. While the minerals chromium and vanadium receive much hype in regulating blood sugar, magnesium shows huge promise in ameliorating metabolic syndrome.
"At least three trials have shown that magnesium supplementation increases insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant diabetics and non-diabetics (9, 10, 11). In some cases, the results were remarkable. In type II diabetics, 16 weeks of magnesium supplementation improved fasting glucose, calculated insulin sensitivity and HbA1c*** (12). HbA1c dropped by 22 percent.
In insulin resistant volunteers with low blood magnesium, magnesium supplementation for four months reduced estimated insulin resistance by 43 percent and decreased fasting insulin by 32 percent (13). This suggests to me that magnesium deficiency was probably one of the main reasons they were insulin resistant in the first place. But the study had another very interesting finding: magnesium improved the subjects' blood lipid profile remarkably. Total cholesterol decreased, LDL decreased, HDL increased and triglycerides decreased by a whopping 39 percent. The same thing had been reported in the medical literature decades earlier when doctors used magnesium injections to treat heart disease, and also in animals treated with magnesium. Magnesium supplementation also suppresses atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the arteries) in animal models, a fact that I may discuss in more detail at some point (14, 15)."
Holy smokes man, this is insane. Four months of magnesium supplementation reduced insulin resistance by almost half, remarkably improved lipid profiles (blood fats) and dropped HbA1c by a whopping 22%! For those who are unfamiliar with HbA1c, the marker reflects the average blood glucose level over the past few weeks. HbA1c may be the best marker for determining insulin resistance, as apposed to the conventional fasting insulin or blood glucose tests.
Cortisol is the body's natural anti-inflammatory hormone. Your body releases cortisol in response to "stressors" such as unstable blood sugar, lack of sleep, chronic inflammation, and too little food consumption.
Chronic elevated levels of cortisol lead to an acute condition known as telogen effluvium. This condition results in massive hair shedding, that for those who are predisposed to hair loss, most likely will not grow back.
In regards to magnesium, stress causes the body to "use up" magnesium faster than it would otherwise. Competitive athletes are found to have lower levels of magnesium after strenuous exercise. Supplementing the athletes with magnesium was found to lower cortisol levels.
Burn victims, who for good reason experience higher levels of cortisol, also experience higher excretion rates of magnesium.
Focusing on foods that do not stress the body, and supplementing with appropriate amounts of magnesium, might be the key to keeping a lid on cortisol.
The way I view nutrition was very much shaped by the thoughts and writings of Brian Simonis, owner of ImmortalHair.org. If you want my honest opinion, I think of Brian as a pioneer in health. Brian was espousing the benefits of vitamin D long before I had ever heard of it being suggested in the paleosphere. Another connection Brian made was between hair loss and bone health. Essentially anything that promotes the formation and remodeling of bone is beneficial for hair. The explanation is a little techy, but I'll let Brian handle it:
"Hair growth is very similar to bone, it undergoes a remodeling process whereby there is degradation, regeneration and a transition phase. The substance responsible for bone resorption (degradation) is osteoclasts, while osteoblasts build bone. The process controls hair cycling such as the growth or anagen phase in the hair follicle, and formation in the bone remodeling cycle. These processes both use the same molecular mechanisms, namely, the Hedgehog, Bone Morphogenetic Protein, Wnt signal transduction cascade. Proteasome inhibitors act on the effects of bone and hair follicle formation by the above mentioned cascade stimulating the growth phase in the human hair follicle."
Basically bone builders like vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, and magnesium will not only support strong bones, but hair growth as well.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Stephan from Whole Health Source noted that magnesium supplementation decreased triglycerides by a gigantic 39%. Less build up of triglycerides means less of a chance that fat will infiltrate the liver contributing to NAFLD.
A recent study concluded that decreased magnesium levels are seen in those with liver problems:
"Decreased magnesium levels found also in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver suggest that alcoholism cannot be the only cause of hypomagnesemia in patients with fatty liver. Hypomagnesemia is not only a laboratory symptom of fatty liver but due to its connection with increased oxidative stress it might be a risk factor in the progression of fatty liver to steatohepatitis"
While not as vogue as HbA1c or insulin resistance, estrogen clearance is an interesting topic. Dr. BG of Animal Pharm has an amazing post detailing the infiltration of neolithic plastics in our daily lives. Okay G, I purchased the glass food containers, and threw out all my tupperware, but what else can I do?
Supporting your liver, which has to process all these estrogens, by providing the raw materials it needs to produce glucuronic acid, may be of great aid. Glucuronic acid binds to and escorts estrogens out of the body and magnesium is a crucial substrate in its production (PDF):
"Magnesium is an essential cofactor for the COMT enzyme, and therefore optimizes the methylation and excretion of catechol estrogens. Magnesium also promotes estrogen detoxification by directly increasing the activity of glucuronyl transferase, an enzyme involved in hepatic glucuronidation. Ovarian hormones influence magnesium levels, triggering decreases at certain times during the menstrual cycle as well as altering the calcium to magnesium ratio. These cyclical changes can produce many of the well-known symptoms of PMS in women who are deficient in magnesium and/or calcium.