IPRS has identified a number of urgent problem areas that may be alleviated by prudent application of knowledge about magnesium metabolism and regulation. Well over half of the people in our world are under-served in terms of health care and meeting of basic nutritional needs. In the U.S. government survey has indicated that as much as 30% of the population is deficient in magnesium. In Europe, a similar deficit has been documented. Indications are that in other parts of the world similar deficits occur.
This has serious consequences especially for those living in poverty. We believe the technology is available to address these needs. What is required in part is an adaptation of current technology to provide cost effective and culturally sensitive solutions. A second requirement is to provide innovative delivery systems for these solutions. A third requirement is the financial and personnel resources to implement these solutions on a broad scale. These requirements are part of each of the following initiatives.
Pre-eclampsia / Eclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy)
Preeclampsia-eclampsia is a disease that is unique to pregnancy, and may occur anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth. Approximately 7% of pregnant women in the U.S. develop preeclampsia-eclampsia. Preeclampsia is defined as the presence of elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, and severe swelling (edema) during pregnancy. Eclampsia occurs with the addition of seizures to the above triad of symptoms. Approximately 5% of women with preeclampsia go on to develop eclampsia, which is a significant cause of maternal death (13). For many years, high dose intravenous magnesium sulfate has been the treatment of choice for preventing eclamptic seizures that may occur in association with preeclampsia-eclampsia late in pregnancy or during labor. Magnesium is believed to relieve cerebral blood vessel spasm, increasing blood flow to the brain (From Jane Higdon, Ph.D. at the Micronutrient Information Center Oregon State University) . For additional details on Eclampsia/ Preeclampsia click Here.
The IPRS solution is to develop a Pre-eclampsia kit that is suitable for remote field use by moderately trained personnel comprised of a means for measuring blood pressure, protein in the urine and Mg ions in the water and diet (or preferably in body fluids). The kit would also include a sufficient number of pills of MgOxide to overcome Mg deficiencies during the last 3 months of pregnancy. Costs of the pills are estimated to be less than 10 cents per day.
One of the problems of diarrhea is the attendant excessive loss of minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Studies have shown that much of the Mg from dietary sources is absorbed in the lower part of the intestines. When diarrhea occurs, hypomagnesemia and hypokalemia are frequently associated with it. This can lead to severe cardiovascular problems and if not treated end in death.
The IPRS solutions is to develop an easy and inexpensive test for determining levels of Mg in body fluids and in drinking water and food sources to determine whether the person is deficient in Mg. The second component of the IPRS solution is to develop a form of Mg supplementation that will be absorbed in the upper gastro-intestinal tract so that it will not be 'washed' away by the disease.
Drinking water is often devoid of important minerals by reason of treatment or natural causes. For persons who are already undernourished, the lack of this important source of minerals may lead to hypomagnesemia and other health complications.
The IPRS solution is to develop an easy and inexpensive test for determining levels of Mg in drinking water to determine whether persons using that source of water are at risk of being deficient in minerals (especially Ca and Mg). The current test strips and/or instruments used for testing water hardness do not distinguish between the minerals which are often dominated by Ca rather than Mg. Thus, the measure of hardness can be misleading as to whether adequate amounts of Mg and certain trace minerals such as Manganese, Zinc and Molybdenum. Furthermore, testing methods results may be distorted if there is a lot of iron (Fe) or organic materials in the water. Thus, the method needs to take into account these ancillary factors in testing water samples including pH and turbidity.
Hypomagnesemia is a serious medical condition that can contribute to the exacerbation or onset of many diseases. Mineral supplementation may play an important role in countering these conditions. Current forms of Mg supplement include I.V. injections of MgSO4 (as for extreme conditions such as cardiac arrythmias) as well as tablets of 250 to 650 mg of MgOxide that are taken orally on a daily basis. [See references on Gitelman's Syndrome that displays ventricular tachycardia that is attributed to hypomagnesemia in conjunction with hypokalemia (low potassium)].
For the reasons indicated above, it is important to be able to determine whether the body is deficient in Mg. One does not want to give too much Mg because that can lead to other problems (such as interference with normal Ca transport). If Mg is taken as a salt (such as Epsom's salt) rather than as a natural ingredient in plants, there is also the risk of making diarrhea worse (it acts as a laxative).
The IPRS solution is to develop an easy and inexpensive test for determining levels of Mg in the urine. If the Mg level is high, it would indicate a likely hypermagnesemia and supplementation should not be undertaken. If the level is very low, then supplementation may be beneficial. Medical parameters and decision making tools need to be developed to be a companion to an supplementation program.
The alternative to supplementation is to provide a guide to natural sources of magnesium such as from plants and plant products. To this end, IPRS is studying plants that are rich in minerals. One such plant is the Moringa sp. which grows in parts of Africa and India. For our initiative in this area click here.
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