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Excess Cortisol and Magnesium

Expert Low-Carber



Another member recommended I post a separate thread for more visibility to share a conversation that came up in a journal this week. It was a discussion about chronic stress an how that negatively impacts weight loss, other hormonal and adrenal functions, and daily life. I now recognize I have been suffering from what is clinically called chronic stress this past 6 years, where the body's natural production of cortisol, to help you cope with "fight or flight" type emergencies, never subsides after the stressful event. I've been dealing with this pretty much ever since my father's death in 2004.

My father had been suffering from gradual renal failure and was at a mere 15% function shortly before his death. So the family knew he would not live much longer, even if they put him on dialysis (military hospitals don't do that until you're down to 10% renal function). But no matter how you try to prepare yourself, you're never really ready when the death of a parent comes. As we were extremely close, his loss was very difficult for me. My brother and my Dad were not so close for too many reasons to go into here. My Mother and I had always been almost like "best friends". We agreed on almost everything and always had a good, fun relationship!

Shortly after Dad died, Mom began to exhibit memory loss and confusion. It progressed over two years and it took me another two to convince my brother something was wrong with her. Finally we took her to a specialist who diagnosed her 2 years ago with Mild Cognitive Impairment, and this year, with dementia (either of which usually transition to to Alzheimers in 57-85% of the cases). Dealing with the 180 changes in her personality, her lack of cooperation, contentious nature and downright meanness to us and the CNA we hired to help her a couple hours a day have been extremely difficult for me to understand. This was not the mother I knew and loved. I can now accept them as part of her illness. Having to micro-manage her doctor appts. and medicines as well as oversee her daily life from another city 3 hours away hasn't helped matters for me either. My brother does what he can, but he lives near Seattle and only flies to Texas a couple times a year.

I won't dwell on any more background particulars, but suffice it to say the stress, I'm certain now, was the major factor in my 17 month stall. A saliva hormone test done 6 months ago showed my cortisol levels off the charts at 14.5 (morning normal for my age group is 3.7-9.5) and not dropping off much throughout the day. No surprise to me, but it took me 3 visits to get my doc to finally include a cortisol test in his routine lab work on me so he could see it in black and white.

I suspect my adrenals have taken a severe hit from all this stress as well, but many physicians still don't think Adrenal Fatigue is a real disorder and don't want to go there when you bring up the symptoms I brought up to my doc: very low body temps (94-97 all the time, never reaching 98.0 EVER); hair loss on scalp; hair loss on front,lower legs; unable to cope with the slightest stresses any longer. Yet, as with often missed thyroid dysfunction, all my doctor could see was that my very low TSH (low usually indicates thyroid is working OK on its own), my fairly normal T3 and T4 thyroid tests he did subsequently. All he recommended for my complaints was connecting with the Alzheimer Disease support organizations, yoga and any personal relaxation techniques I could do. None of which really helped my stress get better.

My immune system was weakened by the stress and constant driving back and forth to San Antonio to help Mom over the 5 year period was getting to be so draining physically and emotionally that I developed Shingles last year on my torso (folks over 50 who had chicken pox as children are vulnerable to the dormant CP virus becoming active again when the immune system is weakened for any reason). To treat the Shingles, my doc shot me up with prednisone, put me on the usual antivirals and 5,000 mg of Vitamin D3 a day, 2000 mg Vitamin C a day (which I was already taking). The Shingles went away but it took 12 weeks. Very painful, shingles, and hope they never flare up again. This is when I started reading up on adrenal fatigue, high cortisol, leptin resistance, and such. I'm also on BHRT implants now and that is balancing hormones enough that body temps are more in the 97-98.2 range. Still no regrowth of scalp/leg hair, however.

The point of my post is that the Atkins nutritionist, Colette Heimowitz recommended further things people could do to lower cortisol and those really caught my eye. Among them 400-500 mgs a day of magnesium from Powder City, found here:http://www.powdercity.com/products/magnesium-citrate-powder. Man, I went out and got some and I'm here to tell ya I felt less stressed in less than 30 days!! DH noticed I was calmer and coping with my mother and life in general much better now. The next blood test 3 months later showed my cortisol back down to the normal range!! My doctor was astounded, and asked "What are you doing to lower it?" I told him things had not really improved dealing with my Mom, she's still uncooperative and enough worse her gerontologist just put her on Aricept to slow it down. I told him I just had to put my health first as the cortisol was doing a number on my life. So we talk about my puppies, what fun things we have done or cooked lately and the weather. You just can't talk about anything serious with her anymore and I've finally quit trying to convince her there is a better way or that she just might not be right. I'm at peace with my new relationship with this person that now seems like a perfect stranger. I finally understand this not the person that raised me.

I thought I'd share about how wonderful the magnesium has been to help me. I've just recently broken a 17 month stall (lost 10# since June 19) and I attribute that greatly to eliminating the excess cortisol. I am not edgy and anxious everyday, feel at peace, Mom's calls no longer upset me, my tummy is getting flatter, and the chronic metatarsalgia in my right foot is getting better this month, too!

Oh, and BTW, one ancilliary coritsol factoid: excess cortisol also is known to skew blood glucose test results (high) and it was doing that to me!! My Doc was about to put me on glucophage!! I told him I have NEVER had glucose issues and was sure that the next test would come down. The elevated one was taken the day after my Mom had been visiting for 10 straight days. And sure enough, my very next glucose test was normal. Doc was very pleased. He said "Whatever you're doing to lower your stress and cortisol, keep it up, because it's helping keep your glucose level as well".

The nutritionist also recommended for stress reduction, calcium 800mgs (was already taking 1200mg myself), Vitamin B6 (was already taking super B-complex) Valerian Root at bedtime to help sleep (I wasn't having sleep issues), and some other things: Inositol 100 mgs., tryptophane, 100mgs. and Phosphatidyl Serine (none of which did I take).

I just added the Vitamin C, super Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin D3 and magnesium. I also take 2T. coconut oil like Jimmy, because I hear it's good to ward off cognitive disorders like dementia and AD as well as benefit those who already have been diagnosed with it (I may carry the gene as well, though I'm 62 and don't exhibit signs YET, LOL). These few added supplements did wonders for my cortisol, immune health and general temperament these days. And my DH will sure vouch for that!

If my cortisol story and success with magnesium helps anyone else, there it is folks.

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



Thank you for sharing, Peggy!
Lots of hugs to you as well.

Time+Perseverance=SUCCESS Keep on Keeping on!

Senior Low-Carber



Thanks so much for doing this, Peggy!

T-Vix




Expert Low-Carber



Glad to offer something that worked for me. If the magnesium and B-complex had not worked alone so well, I was going to slowly add in the other 3 to the daily vitamin cocktail. But that doesn't seem necessary after all. The magnesium and B's are doing the trick for me. Maybe this info will help someone else dealing with continuous stress.

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



I'd like to see some omega 3 in the mix.
6 wk of supplementation with FO significantly increased lean mass and decreased fat mass. These changes were significantly correlated with a reduction in salivary cortisol following FO treatment.

I'd also think it's a good idea to consider melatonin as well

While I appreciate you may not be in a position to change your mothers supplement intake or diet it's a fact that Alzheimer's like Diabetes is a condition involving dysfunctional glucose metabolism and inflammation so the changes you have made to your diet/supplement regime apply equally to her wellbeing. I post regularly on an Alzheimer's forum and it's tragic reading how the stress of caring for someone with this condition wrecks the health and mental well-being of those providing the care.

Senior Low-Carber



Peggy, you said that you tested initially for cortisol via a saliva hormone test. Was that done at a doctor's office, or is it a test that's available somewhere else? I'm very curious about my cortisol levels, but I didn't even know I could ask for a test. I'm a bit doctor phobic, so if I could test without going in to his office, I'd be more likely to do it. LOL

T-Vix




Advanced Low-Carber



My latest blog post covers much of this but from a different angle. You may find the information very helpful given your story above. It was posted on July 29th. at jackkruse.com Good Luck!

you can get your salivary cortisol checked at ZRTlabs.com without a doctor.

Come visit me at http://www.jackkruse.com to Optimize your Life.

Expert Low-Carber




My Family Medicine doctor uses ZRTlabs for his saliva testing as well and I found their analysis report of my test results very easy to understand. My doc did further blood testing before concluding I was also a candidate for BioIdentical Hormone implants (SotoPele).

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



Ted, you and I have talked before on the topic of AD and Dementia with regards to my mother over on Active Low Carber . I was actually taking fish oil caps for a couple years, from the time I started Atkins anyway, and switched to cod liver oil caps, which the Atkins nutritionist said she personally took. I just didn't mention it in my post above, because FO isn't new in my vitamin routine. So I think I'm covered on omega3.

So far, I've only taken melatonin rarely, on sleepless nights, which is only maybe once a month, if that often. But can see some benefit for chronic stress by taking a small dose nightly. Thanks for that link! I'll go do some more reading on melatonin.

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



Ya' know Peggy, my doctor that I have to see Tuesday is very good. I am going to ask him about a cortisol test while I am there. See what he thinks. Might as well add that test to themix as I am sure it will just be one more of many...lol

Sue

Sue

SUCCESS IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION
START 4/19/2011



Expert Low-Carber



This is a good topic.

Knowing cortisol is just as important as knowing low carb, but it sure can be complex. It's no wonder most drs run away from it.

My doc found cortisol problems in 2007 when I also had hypothyroid, insulin resistance, and adrenal fatigue (nice combination huh?).

Chronic stress raises cortisol, but mine was actually low because it ran high and adrenals stopped. I took a cortisol supplement for about 6 months.

I agree with Ted on the melatonin. This is key for getting good sleep, especially if you have cortisol/adrenal issues. My doc says take as much as 12mg. Good sleep = less stress = less cortisol problems.

DFH's blog for diet and health: http://dietforhumans.com/

Advanced Low-Carber



Very interesting topic. I had a very long weight loss stall several months ago that stopped immediately when I started to take magnesium supplements. So was it a magnesium deficiency or a cortisol problem? Also, does anyone get gastro problems from magnesium supplements and is there any way to avoid them?

"The truth is so often the reverse of what has been told to us by our culture that we cannot turn our heads far enough around to see it." - Howard Zinn

I'm back on track!

Expert Low-Carber



This paper suggests with athletes magnesium supplementation enables them to train (one hour ergometer exercise) and avoid raising cortisol levels.
As most of us don't achieve the current RDA for magnesium it's not surprising we don't have sufficient reserves to deal with immediate needs.
Quote: Also, does anyone get gastro problems from magnesium supplements and is there any way to avoid them?
Magnesium Absorption and Assimilation
Magnesium Afibbers summary
Krispin Magnesium update
Nutritional Magnesium Association
I've been following Krispin's advice and taking an Albion Patent Mineral Chelate with food through the day. I also use this Recipe for Magnesium/Bicarbonate Water and don't have problems.
Avoid anything with magnesium oxide in it, only 4% is absorbed so 96% remains in digestive system to absorb water (+nutrients?) and give you the runs.
Magnesium malate may be better tolerated if the cost of Albion Patent magnesium chelates is a concern.
You could also consider Dead Sea (magnesium chloride) salts (or epsom salts magnesium suphite) in your bathwater or apply magnesium oil (concentrated magnesium chloride in water) on your skin. The problem with soaking or oil is one cannot be sure how much is taken up transdermally which is why I think you need to use all approaches.

Expert Low-Carber




Yes, and so far, the only way I've found to avoid them is to not take magnesium. Since the recommendations I've seen with magnesium supplements is to adjust your dosage to bowel tolerance, and I have been unable to find a dose low enough to qualify, I've concluded I probably don't need magnesium supplements. I don't have a lot of symptoms of magnesium deficiency, from what I can tell. A list is available here:

http://www.krispin.com/magnes.html#Deficiency

Expert Low-Carber



I'm taking 400mg magnesium oxide with chelated zinc and have not personally experienced the "laxative" effect. I do think dosage is very individual though, as some low-carbers have said they can tolerate 250 mg but not more without that effect kicking in.

@ Ted.....as always, you're a wealth of information. Thanks for those links, especially the NMA link. Much good info there to read. So I'm off to do some more reading. Your posts have a way of doing that. Clearly the magnesium I'm taking is the worst absorbed form out there! Your post is an eye opener. I'll be switching when I've used this bottle up. So I'm therefore quite surprised it has done as well for me as it has in curbing my cortisol issues.

@ DFH I have several symptoms typical of both high and low cortisol. So the summative report on my saliva testing indicated the doctor might consider treating adrenal fatigue as well as high cortisol and also recommended other forms of stress management.

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



My edit to above quote.
I don't think the zinc gluconate would help reduce side effects much may even contribute.
Side Effects of Magnesium With Chelated Zinc
I'm not sure everyone needs to supplement with zinc.
I'd be cautious about overdoing the zinc.
But one of these Now Foods, Zinc Glycinate a few times each week will be fine.
Consider these for you next magnesium purchase.
Bluebonnet Nutrition, Chelated Magnesium, 180 Veggie Caps
I get mine from IHERB as they ship cheap to the UK I expect you'll find the same products cheaper on google/amazon but if you don't Code wab666 saves $5 initially at Iherb.

Expert Low-Carber



Oh, thanks for catching my typo. I'll go correct that right away. Luckily no bad side effect in that discussion have I experienced. But I'll be switching for sure.

And thanks for the Bluebonnet Nutrition brand recommendation! I'll check it out. And with a name like Bluebonnet, my die-hard Texan husband would grin and say that's GOT to be a good one! (bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas)

Peggy
my recipe blog: http://buttoni.wordpress.com/




Expert Low-Carber



Quote: citrate, a magnesium salt of citric acid, is a chemical agent used medicinally as a saline laxative and to completely empty the bowel prior to a major surgery or colonoscopy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_citrate

What's up with that?

DFH's blog for diet and health: http://dietforhumans.com/

Advanced Low-Carber



Thanks for the advice, guys!

"The truth is so often the reverse of what has been told to us by our culture that we cannot turn our heads far enough around to see it." - Howard Zinn

I'm back on track!

Expert Low-Carber




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_citrate

What's up with that? It depends what the purpose of taking the magnesium is.

If you want a laxative them oxide or citrate are fine.
The citrate is probably better than the oxide as the citrate is used in the Krebs cycle and some reports indicate magnesium citrate is reasonably bioavailable, but it's also known this form does not stay in tissues for long and is typically shunted out of the body quickly. Hence the laxative effect in some people.

If you are constipated then oxide or citrate are fine.

But if you want to correct magnesium deficiency you need the magnesium to stay in the body as we know true Albion Patent chelated form offer the best chance of reaching the target cells intact, it makes sense to try that form first. But as in all things nutritional some forms suit some better than others.

Some people do better taking malate and citrate mixes in fact you can buy an even better bonded form such as
Thorne Research, Magnesium Citramate and this is probably one of the better forms available as it's hypoallergenic, no binders, coatings or allergenic ingredients.