UK Study Sheds New Light on the Role of Magnesium
Magnesium is an interesting substance to stay the least. Those who studied chemistry in high school know it is an element represented on the periodic table as Mg. Chemistry majors might also know that it is the ninth most abundant element in the known universe. What you may not know is it is the eleventh most abundant element in the human body. Magnesium is essential to a number of important bodily functions, including circulation and nerve function.
A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Cambridge University just published the results of an exciting study in Nature that sheds new light on the role of magnesium at the cellular level. If their research is correct in the conclusions he draws, we could be on the verge of several revolutionary applications based on magnesium therapy.
Circadian Rhythm at the Cellular Level
Most living creatures, humans included, are subject to something known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm stimulates the body to respond in different ways according to the time of day. In humans, the circadian rhythm is partly responsible for why we naturally feel sleepy at night. According to the researchers, this rhythm goes deeper than just the whole creature – it exists at the cellular level as well.
Researchers investigated the effect magnesium had on helping cells regulate their own rhythms of night and day. What they discovered could lead to something known as chronotherapy – the practice of scheduling certain kinds of treatments at certain times of day to maximize their efficacy.
Developing chronotherapy for human beings based on the UK research is rooted in the fact that the levels of magnesium rise and fall at the cellular level depending on the time of day. That alone is not surprising. What got the attention of researchers is the fact that this cycle affected metabolism.
Metabolism at the cellular level is the process of converting food into fuel. Higher levels of magnesium tend to trigger this process, followed by a gradual slowing of metabolism as magnesium levels drop. Thus, scientists observed a metabolic cycle that occurred right in sync with the magnesium cycle.
Impacts of the Research
Researchers say there are quite a few implications resulting from their studies. The obvious starting place is using magnesium to better control metabolism in a way that could benefit everything from weight management to diabetes. If we can control metabolism better, we can also influence its outcome.
It also might be possible to take advantage of magnesium cycles to better control hormonal balance, body temperature, and other symptoms that are naturally affected by circadian rhythm. Even more exciting is the potential to tap into circadian rhythms at the cellular level to treat other diseases that, up until now, have not truly been understood in terms of cellular function.
Lastly, understanding circadian rhythm at the cellular level may have agricultural implications. We are
all fully aware of the debate around genetically modified organisms and whether or not they are safe for long-term consumption. But imagine being able to derive the same benefits of current GMO practices simply by stimulating the circadian rhythm of individual cells with a plant species, without genetic modification.
The magnesium study out of the UK is still so new that there is no way to know for sure in what direction it will lead. Regardless, what researchers have discovered about the role magnesium plays in controlling circadian rhythm is exciting. We now have a new avenue to pursue that could yield a tremendous number of results across a very wide spectrum.