Magnesium appears to be associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, report researchers, urging further study to find if increased intake of the mineral can protect against the disease.
Magnesium deficiency is believed to have complex effects on cardiovascular health but until now an association between the chemical and the risk of heart disease had not been clearly identified.
The study recorded magnesium intake for more than 7,000 men aged 45 to 68 years, participating in the Honolulu Heart Program. In 30 years of follow-up, the researchers identified 1,431 incident cases of heart disease.
Results from the first 15 years of the study showed that heart disease occurred in seven out of 1000 people from the lowest daily intake quartile (50.3mg-186 mg), compared to only 4 in 1000 of those with the highest intake (340 mg to 1183mg).
When adjustments were made for age and other nutrients (singly or combined), heart disease increased from 1.7- to 2.1-fold in the lowest versus highest quintiles of magnesium intake, added the researchers from University of Virginia School of Medicine and colleagues in Hawaii.
Writing in the 15 September issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, the researchers said that associations between dietary magnesium and coronary events occurring after 15 years of follow-up were modest.
Further studies could demonstrate a role for magnesium supplementation.