The Higher The Magnesium Level, The Healthier Our Arteries
Higher serum levels of magnesium may reduce the risk of hypertension by almost 50% and the risk of coronary artery calcification by 42%, says a new study.
More than 70 percent of the population have an unhealthy balance of 10 calcium to 1 magnesium in our many trillions of cells. A previous study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that for every 50 mg per day increase in intake of the mineral, the risk of cancer was modestly reduced by 7%.
Data from 1,276 Mexican-mestizo subjects also indicated that for every 0.17 mg/dL increase in serum magnesium level was associated with a 16% reduction in coronary artery calcification.
While the data indicates correlation and not causation, scientists from the National Institute of Cardiology – Ignacio ChÃ¡vez in Mexico City said that there is biological plausibility for the potential cardiovascular benefits, adding that the mechanism(s) may be linked to enhancing endothelial function and reducing inflammation.
One study, which combined data from 313,041 people, provides the “most robust evidence to date of the associations between circulating and dietary magnesium across their usual physiologic ranges and CVD risk”, wrote Dr Dariush Mozaffarian and his co-authors in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The results add to an ever growing body of science supporting the potential health benefits of the mineral. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists magnesium as being necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, to keeping heart rhythm steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. The mineral is also needed for blood sugar management, and healthy blood pressure.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued positive opinions on magnesium and the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; electrolyte balance; normal energy-yielding metabolism; neurotransmission, and muscle contraction.
However, EFSA was not convinced by claims about magnesium and blood glucose, blood pressure, stress relief, protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage, the immune system and fat metabolism.
The new cross-sectional study, which was published in the Nutrition Journal , assessed magnesium levels in almost 1,300 Mexican participants aged between 30 and 75. None of the participants had any symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
The results indicated that people with the highest average serum levels magnesium (greater than 2.18 mg/dl) had 48% lower odds of high blood pressure (hypertension), 69 % lower odds of type 2 diabetes, and 42% lower odds of coronary artery calcification, compared with people with lowest average levels (less than 1.97 mg/dl).
“The results of this study strongly suggest that lower serum magnesium levels are associated with coronary artery calcification in Mexican subjects free of clinically apparent cardiovascular disease,” wrote the researchers. “Confirmation of these results in other populations is required. Additional prospective studies are also needed to determine if hypomagnesaemia predicts the development and progression of coronary atherosclerosis.”
Calcium deficiency is a common nutritional concern, but how many folks consider the vital importance of magnesium in human health and disease?
New research published in the journal BMC Bioinformatics indicates that magnesium’s role in human health and disease is far more significant and complicated than previously imagined.
While it is well known that all living things require magnesium, and that it is found in over 300 enzymes in the human body, including those enzymes utilizing or synthesizing ATP (the molecular unit of currency for energy transfer), the new studied titled, “3,751 magnesium binding sites have been detected on human proteins,” indicates that a deficiency of magnesium may profoundly affect a far wider range of biological structures than previously understood.[i]
The proteome, or entire set of proteins expressed by the human genome, contains well over 100,000 distinct protein structures, despite the fact that there are believed to be only 20,300 protein-coding genes in the human genome.
The discovery of the “magneseome,” as its being called, adds additional complexity to the picture, indicating that the presence or absence of adequate levels of this basic mineral may epigenetically alter the expression and behavior of the proteins in our body, thereby altering the course of both health and disease.
Research relevant to magnesium has been accumulating for the past 40 years at a steady rate of approximately 2,000 new studies a year. Our database project has indexed well over 100 health benefits of magnesium thus far. For the sake of brevity, we will address seven key therapeutic applications for magnesium as follows:
Fibromyalgia: Not only is magnesium deficiency common in those diagnosed with fibromyalgia,[ii] [iii] but relatively low doses of magnesium (50 mg), combined with malic acid in the form of magnesium malate, has been clinically demonstrated to improve pain and tenderness in those to which it was administered.[iv]
Atrial Fibrillation: A number of studies now exist showing that magnesium supplementation reduce atrial fibrillation, either by itself, or in combination with conventional drug agents.[v]
Diabetes, Type 2: Magnesium deficiency is common in type 2 diabetics, at an incidence of 13.5 to 47.7% according to a 2007 study.[vi] Research has also shown that type 2 diabetics with peripheral neuropathy and coronary artery disease have lower intracellular magnesium levels.[vii] Oral magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce plasma fasting glucose and raising HDL cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes.[viii] It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic subjects.[ix]
Premenstrual Syndrome: Magnesium deficiency has been observed in women affected by premenstrual syndrome.[x] It is no surprise therefore that it has been found to alleviate premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention,[xi] as well as broadly reducing associated symptoms by approximately 34% in women, aged 18-45, given 250 mg tablets for a 3-month observational period.[xii] When combined with B6, magnesium supplementation has been found to improve anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms.[xiii]
Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality: Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.[xiv] There are a wide range of ways that magnesium may confer its protective effects. It may act like a calcium channel blocker,[xv] it is hypotensive,[xvi] it is antispasmodic (which may protect against coronary artery spasm),[xvii] and anti-thrombotic.[xviii] Also, the heart muscle cells are exceedingly dense in mitochondria (as high as 100 times more per cell than skeletal muscle), the “powerhouses” of the cell,” which require adequate magnesium to produce ATP via the citric acid cycle.
Migraine Disorders: Blood magnesium levels have been found to be significantly lower in those who suffer from migraine attacks.[xix] [xx] A recent Journal of Neural Transmission article titled, “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium,” pointed out that routine blood tests do not accurately convey the true body magnesium stores since less than 2% is in the measurable, extracellular space, “67% is in the bone and 31% is located intracellularly.”[xxi] The authors argued that since “routine blood tests are not indicative of magnesium status, empiric treatment with at least oral magnesium is warranted in all migraine sufferers.” Indeed, oral magnesium supplementation has been found to reduce the number of headache days in children experiencing frequent migranous headaches, [xxii] and when combined with l-carnitine, is effective at reducing migraine frequency in adults, as well.[xxiii]
Aging: While natural aging is a healthy process, accelerated aging has been noted to be a feature of magnesium deficiency,[xxiv] especially evident in the context of long space-flight missions where low magnesium levels are associated with cardiovascular aging over 10 times faster than occurs on earth.[xxv] Magnesium supplementation has been shown to reverse age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans.[xxvi] One of the possible mechanisms behind magnesium deficiency associated aging is that magnesium is needed to stabilize DNA and promotes DNA replication. It is also involved in healing up of the ends of the chromosomes after they are divided in mitosis.[xxvii]
Best Sources of Magnesium In The Diet
The best source of magnesium is from food, and one way to identify magnesium-containing foods are those which are green, i.e. chlorophyll rich. Chlorophyll, which enable plants to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy, has a magnesium atom at its center. Without magnesium, in fact, plants could not utilize the sun’s light energy.
Magnesium, however, in its elemental form is colorless, and many foods that are not green contain it as well. The point is that when found complexed with food cofactors, it is absorbed and utilized more efficiently than in its elemental form, say, extracted from limestone in the form of magnesium oxide.
The following foods contain exceptionally high amounts of magnesium. The portions described are 100 grams, or a little over three ounces.
Fortunately, for those who need higher doses, or are not inclined to consume magnesium rich foods, there are supplemental forms commonly available on the market. Keep in mind, for those who wish to take advantage of the side benefit of magnesium therapy, namely, its stool softening and laxative properties, magnesium citrate or oxide will provide this additional feature.
For those looking to maximize absorption and bioavailability magnesium glycinate is ideal, as glycine is the smallest amino acid commonly found chelated to magnesium, and therefore highly absorbable.