Highlights from SDRM 
Magnesium Research Conference

The International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium held its conference March 20-22, 2019 at the National Institute of Health (“NIH”) in Bethesda, Maryland. The title of the conference was, “Magnesium in Health and Disease 2019, ” and over 60 presenters lectured and shared papers, abstracts, and posters during the conference. What is so interesting for our readers and customers is that the information distributed there reinforces everything we are doing with ReMag. Here is my summary with comments of the most notable talks.

Highlighted Presenters and Papers

Presenter: Gopal Kumar
Paper: “Magnesium Deficiency Enhances Oxidative Stress & Migratory Potential of Colon Cancer Cells.”

What was important was the background that this paper gave an overview of. They are now saying that magnesium is a co-factor for more than 1,000 enzymes. You’ll read about 300/325. I’ve been saying 700-800. It’s a thousand. That’s what we are going to be talking about from now on. A thousand enzymes – you cannot deny the importance of 1,000 different enzymes in the body doing their work and requiring a lot of magnesium to do that work.

Every one of the papers pretty much mentioned how magnesium regulates the genes, It’s an energy producer. It’s an antioxidant. Additionally, magnesium and calcium have similar chemical properties, but their role in biological systems is counter-intuitively antagonistic.

We say this over and over. Magnesium will fall if you have too much calcium. If you have enough magnesium, it will keep calcium in solution. They said in this Kumar paper that magnesium is nature’s physiological calcium channel blocker. Additionally, magnesium is deficient in the diet. They said great than 50% of population consumes less than RDA. (I have found that it’s closer to 70-80%.)

Presenter: Wei Yang PhD, Distinguished Investigator at the NIH in Molecular Biology
Presentation: “Cation Trafficking Is Essential for Both Nucleic Acid Synthesis and Degradation”

Nucleic acids are what makes up the DNA and the RNA. This is really very interesting, because she is saying enzyme catalysis (enzyme breakdown) has been studied for over a century. How it actually occurs has not been visualized until recently. By combining in crystallo catalysis with x-ray diffraction analysis of reaction intermediates, we have observed the processes of DNA synthesis and RNA degradation at unprecedented atomic details. (These are the things that get these people totally excited.)So, what they are showing is how the RNA allows the DNA to make protein, and then the  RNA breaks down to live another day. What she discovered is that it is essential for enzyme substrate complexes to capture not two but three magnesium ions in route to forming protein products.  Binding of the third magnesium may be the rate-limiting step in DNA synthesis.

There’s a lot more to it, but if I can briefly say they used to think that two magnesiums get this reaction going. But, when they were able to look directly at the atomic details, they found that a third magnesium jumped in to limit the rate of the DNA synthesis.

Now, this is very important because another doctor spoke up and said, “Well, you know, manganese can get in there and keep it just going and going and going.” Of course. Dr. Yang said, “No, that’s not the point. The point is that the third magnesium comes in and slows things down.

(Dr. Dean’s comments: It’s exactly what we always say that the body knows. The body has it all figured out. We haven’t got a clue. They are just finding this out now, that magnesium really knows what is it doing – that two magnesiums start the process and the third slows it down and moderates it. This is what we found through the whole conference – the incredible importance of magnesium and having enough of it to dive in and create this balancing act.)

Presenter: Jeroen HF deBaaij = The Netherlands
Presentation: “Kidney, the Key Organ of Magnesium Homeostasis.”

It’s so important. Doctors in clinical practice keep talking that if you have any kidney problems, you better not take magnesium. The kidneys are all over magnesium. They absolutely know how to hold on to it. But what isn’t being looked at is how calcification of the kidney arteries can be throwing the kidneys out of balance in terms of their magnesium.

Presenter: Forrest Nielsen
Presentation: “Factors Affecting Magnesium Status, Requirements, and Dietary Intakes”

He created a bit of a controversy because he said that magnesium intake data shows that the average amount of magnesium being taken is less than we thought. So, maybe magnesium requirements are lower!

(Dr. Dean’s Comments: Now, that’s really convoluted. What we have is way lower amounts in the food supply. Someone had a slide that a hundred years ago, you could get 600 mg of magnesium, and now you are lucky to get 250 mg of magnesium, in your food. I say, “It’s around 200 mg.” So, everyone agrees that we are not getting enough, and we do need more magnesium.)

Presenter: Rhian Touyz
Presentation: “Magnesium and Cardiovascular Biology in Health and Disease.”

Reducing the calcium to magnesium ratio is important for optimizing Vitamin D status. They are talking about heart health. They are talking about Vitamin D, and the need for magnesium in the whole picture.

Presenter: Qi Dai
Presentation: “Calcium: Magnesium Ratios, Vitamin D Synthesis and Metabolism, and Mortality.”

The conclusion of this paper was reducing calcium to magnesium ratio optimizes Vitamin D status.

Presenter: Dr Michael Lenardo. M.D. (NIH)
Presentation: “Magnesium Regulation of the Immune Response.”

(Dr. Dean’s Comment: T-Cells are your immune cells. In Epstein Barr and HIV, these T-Cells can be diminished.)

Inducible T-Cell kinase (ITK – the enzyme that helps make T-Cells) requires a second magnesium cation binding to a low affinity site in the catalytic pocket. Used to think it was just one magnesium was part of the process. Now, they know it is two magnesiums.

T-Cells are dramatically lower and Epstein Barr viruses activated without magnesium. I believe he even said something like, “Take your magnesium during flu season.”

Presenter: Dr Valentina Trapani
Presentation: “Dietary Magnesium Alleviates Experimental Colitis”

There is strong correlation with colitis and low magnesium. Human Gut Microbiota of 100 Trillion microbes dominated by gram positive Bacteroides and Firmicutes which are increased with adequate to high dietary magnesium. Low dietary magnesium increases gram negative pathogenic bacteria.

The conclusion of the paper is that magnesium availability modulates severity of colitis and gut microflora composition. High Mg restrains potential pathogens and favors competing good bacteria.

Presenter: Gisele Pickering
Presentation: “Effect of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 Combination on Severe Stress in Healthy Adults.”

(Dr. Dean’s Comments: As you know, we work with ReMag and ReAline. ReAline has all the B Vitamins, methylated and food-based.)

Presenter: Kotaro Oka
Presentation: “Magnesium as a Second Messenger in Early Development Stages of Neurons.”

His lab demonstrated that magnesium is a second messenger in early development of neurons. We know how important magnesium is for the nervous system. (They are proving it here, because of the technological advancement of measurement instruments.) Additionally, it has an important role for facilitating structural and functional maturation of neural networks.

Presenter: Ailsa Welch
“Magnesium, Skeletal Muscle Health, Sarcopenia, Osteoporosis and Fracture Risk.”

Magnesium is related to skeletal muscle mass in men and women. It’s a stronger factor than protein intake for bone density.

Research Trend

The bulk of talks was on genes and how they make proteins that are ion channels that mediate calcium and magnesium entry into cells. What we realized is that genes and genetic research are the “big sexy” now and getting all the funding. The things we know clinically about the important of magnesium to health are being proved at the genetic level.

If these genes are not turned on by having the correct amount of magnesium, then things don’t work. It’s that basic.

Ionized Magnesium Test

There was some mention of magnesium testing throughout the various talks. They talked about how the serum magnesium test was not really all that accurate. They didn’t talk too much about RBC Magnesium Testing. But they did talk about the clinical importance of ionized magnesium testing. The people who make the instrument, Nova Biomedical, and the instrument was created by Drs. Burton and Bella Altura, primarily Bella. (This is the test I keep promoting.)What Nova talked about mostly is using the testing in critically ill patients (ICU/Emergency Medicine). (What I would like to do is have people tested in general, because we don’t have a good sense of the magnesium deficiency abounding.)


It was good to be there. There was a lot of redundancy, especially in the genetic talks. They just covered cardiovascular, osteoporosis, athletes and magnesium, the colitis study, the immune study (very important). There is so much more that they aren’t covering, and they certainly didn’t cover any clinical applications. There were no recommendations or suggestions on how to use magnesium for these issues. It was a research conference. That’s how it was labeled, and that’s how it stayed.


Dr. Carolyn Dean