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Magnesium for Acne

Magnesium is useful in acne treatment. It especially reduces skin inflammation by inhibiting E-Selectin.
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Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is an important element in all life forms. It is abundantly found both on land and in water bodies all over the planet. It is rarely found free but bounded to other elements to form stable compounds.

In humans, magnesium is mostly found in the skeleton and within the cells. It is an essential nutrient which is found in all cells. This mineral is essential to biological systems for several reasons.

Sometimes, it serves as a component of major cellular complexes such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the chief energy molecule in animals) and chlorophyll (the molecule responsible for photosynthesis in plants).

In humans, magnesium is required for over 300 enzymes to function properly. The recommended daily nutritional requirement of the mineral is 300 – 400 mg.

While acute magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesemia can be caused by the side effects of drugs such as diuretics, chronic hypomagnesemia is caused by inadequate magnesium intake.

Dietary Sources of Magnesium
  • Green vegetables such as spinach because of their chlorophyll content 
  • Nuts 
  • Whole grains 
  • Halibut
  • Milk
  • Oats
  • Peanut butter
  • “Hard” water

Magnesium deficiency is tied to calcium and potassium deficiencies. Symptoms of this deficiency include muscle cramp, weakness, fatigue, dizziness and hyperexcitability.

In severe cases, magnesium deficiency can also lower the serum concentrations of calcium and potassium while increasing the retention of sodium in the body.

Magnesium deficiency can also reduce appetite as well as the levels of parathyroid hormones, and also cause neurological damage. It will also cause arrhythmia and worsen insulin resistance.

Magnesium and Acne

Magnesium deficiency is not directly linked to acne development. However, because of the importance of the mineral to even the most basic biochemical reactions in the body, it is possible that magnesium supplementation can improve acne symptoms.

Magnesium is believed to be especially useful for skin health given that it is involved in many cellular processes especially the expression of DNA and RNA and also the production of proteins such as collagen.

By the same mechanisms, magnesium can help relieve stress. Stress is one of the factors identified to cause and contribute to acne breakouts.

Magnesium can also restore hormonal balance by regulating the very biochemical processes by which they are synthesized.

Hormonal imbalance as a cause of acne relates to the increased production of male sex hormones or androgens especially during the teenage years. Androgens especially testosterone and its metabolites such as DHT or dihydrotestosterone are produced by the body to promote the developmental changes experienced during puberty.

However, male sex hormones do change the nature of the sebaceous follicles by increasing the production of sebum. This is why the skin is usually oily during the years of puberty.

With increased sebum production, the skin becomes conducive for bacterial colonization. Acne-causing bacteria include Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis. These bacteria cause the inflammatory lesions (papules, pimples and nodules) seen in acne patients.

The increased sebum production also cause the clogging of the pores by a plug made of dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum. This leads to seborrhea and the formation of comedones such as whiteheads and blackheads.

With the wide variety of roles played by magnesium in the body, it is possible that the mineral can stop the development or progression of acne by arresting most of the causative factors.

Magnesium and Acne Inflammation

It has been proven that magnesium has a direct result on skin inflammation. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 investigated the effectiveness of magnesium in reducing both systemic and epithelial inflammation. The study involved over 600 women.

The results of the study showed that magnesium supplementation was able to reduce the plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein and E-selectin.

Both C-reactive protein and E-selectin are involved in inflammatory processes in the body. While high levels of C-reactive protein causes inflammation in inside the body, E-selectin causes inflammation in the endothelial layer of the skin.

E-selectin is also called endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule I. It is activated by cytokines and binds to leukocytes. This molecule is produced only in endothelial cells.

E-selectin attracts leukocytes to the site of injury and contributes to local inflammation. Therefore, when androgens and acne-causing bacteria change the nature of the skin, E-selectin is produced by the endothelial cells in response to the injury. By doing this, they contribute to the formation of inflammatory acne lesions.

Magnesium helps reduce the local inflammation caused by E-selectin and prevent the formation of acne lesions.

Taking Magnesium for Acne

There are many magnesium salts that can be taken as magnesium supplements. Common magnesium salts include the chloride, citrate, carbonate, bicarbonate, sulfate and oxide of the mineral.

Other magnesium salts are complex molecules formed with amino acids. These include aspartate, glycinate, orotate, taurate, lysinate and ketogluconate complexes.

Usually, the bioavailability of magnesium salts varies between 30% and 40%. Of the simple salts, the citrate is the least expensive and it also has a high bioavailability too. However, some people prefer the complex chelates salts made with amino acids.

These salts come in different oral forms including capsule, tablet and powder forms. The effervescent powder form is believed to provide the most bioavailability but individual results may vary.

To improve the absorption of magnesium, vitamin C and calcium supplements are sometimes recommended alongside.

The use of magnesium supplements in acne treatment should be restricted. This is because there are no strong links demonstrating the effectiveness of magnesium in acne treatment. Some acne patients do report experiencing positive results though.

Care should also be taken with magnesium supplementation because while dietary sources of magnesium cannot lead to hypermagnesemia, magnesium supplements can cause this especially in people with kidney impairment.

However, in healthy people, excess magnesium is quickly excreted in the urine.

The most common side effect of magnesium supplements is diarrhea. This is because the mineral has a laxative effect. This laxative effect is greatest with magnesium sulfate since the sulfate part of the molecule also produces the same effect.

Magnesium will turn the stomach environment alkaline. Therefore, it should be taken on empty stomach and preferably at bedtime so that it does not neutralize the stomach enzymes and the acidic environment needed for digestion.

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