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People frequently ask me about supplements and medications, and I have touched on vitamin D and other nutrients here and there in my columns. But I don’t know if I can emphasize enough what a difference magnesium has made. In my daily routine as an alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) patient, I won’t skip magnesium.

Magnesium is essential in a healthy person’s body for many reasons. It can calm nerves and soften imposing cramps. I could be the poster girl for why magnesium is essential for anyone with breathing issues. I find a lot of people are deficient in magnesium, whether they have breathing issues or not.

I noticed that when I started working out on my new bike, I immediately had cramps and asthma issues that didn’t resolve for a whole week. Wondering why the few minutes of work I was doing was making me feel worse, I decided to increase my magnesium dosage.

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Even though I had to stop working out, when I got back into it exercise, I didn’t experience the same breathing issues. I had no cramps like I had the first time, either.

I noticed that I need more when I supplement vitamin D, also. Magnesium is known to help facilitate vitamin D absorption, so when I increase that during the winter, I pay extra close attention. I have heard others who take both supplements have noticed that, too.

I have 2 different types of magnesium I take. One is magnesium L-Threonate and the other is a combination of different forms, including magnesium oxide. I like magnesium L-Threonate because of its cognitive effects. I find that taking it has been helpful in my short-term memory and focus during stress. The magnesium complex helps with cramps, asthma attacks, and other things. A lot of people know it can help with constipation.

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People with AATD can have problems absorbing certain nutrients. In view of that, I take it at night, so that my body can better process and store it. That way it’s available when I wake up. It’s not a sleeping pill, but I take it at night to help me relax. One person I know refers to it as a “stress killer.”

There are other reasons an AATD patient might need more magnesium, such as inhaler use. Or, if the patient drinks lots of water they may need extra electrolytes in general. I personally drink a lot of water because I noticed it raises my oxygen levels when I need it too. And I can’t exercise without large amounts of it.

Magnesium doesn’t treat, cure, or prevent any particular disease by itself. But it can take the edge off of bothersome issues for a lot of people. I have been taking magnesium long before I knew I had AATD just because I was a health nut and wanted to try it to alleviate food cravings. The other effects were an added benefit.

Over the years, I have heard of other people who use it regularly. Caffeine and stress tend to deplete it so in a day where both are in abundance, this supplement is obviously important.

If an AATD patient came to me asking for nutritional tips, I would suggest this. I would then refer them to their doctor about this supplement before taking it. It’s not about a certain amount, I leave that between the person and their doctor. I know of one person who cannot take it because it causes her to be dizzy. It really is not for everyone.

Are there other nutrients an AATD patient would need more? It’s all really quite based on the individual, honestly. I take a lot of magnesium, over 500 mg of the magnesium complex, and over 3000 mg of magnesium L-Threonate daily.

Finally, it’s expensive but worth it because I don’t think I could have a job without it.