Higher magnesium levels linked to healthier arteries: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

iStockPhoto / sasimoto
iStockPhoto / sasimoto

Related tags: Atherosclerosis

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.

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 Chávez 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.


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 science and positive regulatory decisions have led to increased interest from consumers in magnesium and this has led to increasing sales. According to SPINS​, US sales of magnesium supplements across natural, specialty gourmet and conventional multi outlet channels grew 15.2% to $85,217,687 for the 52 weeks ending January 24, 2016, up from $73,993,936 from the previous 52 weeks.

Study details

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.”

Source: Nutrition Journal
2016, 15​:22, doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0143-3
“Serum magnesium is inversely associated with coronary artery calcification in the Genetics of Atherosclerotic Disease (GEA) study”
Authors: R. Posadas-Sanchez, et al. 

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