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Magnesium Blog Series: The Forgotten Nutrient | Part 3 – Health Consequences and Benefits

August 6, 2018 • 2 min read
Summary

Magnesium deficiency is linked to many chronic conditions, from cardiovascular disease to depression. Whereas high magnesium intake has many benefits including reduced risk for major diseases.

Potential Health Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency

Lower magnesium levels have been linked to a broad array of chronic health conditions, ranging from cardiovascular disease to depression (Table 1). Proposed mechanisms through which magnesium may affect risk for chronic diseases include modulation of cellular metabolism and reproduction, systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, thrombosis, and endothelial function, among others.3

Table 1. Studies demonstrating an association between magnesium intake and common diseases.

Condition Relation to Magnesium Intake
Bone disease
  • low serum Mg levels independently associated with increased risk for fracture in men19
  • lower Mg intake associated with reduced bone mineral density in women20
  • reduced dietary Mg intake led to bone loss in animal studies21
  • reduced Mg intake documented in postmenopausal women with low bone density22
Depression
  • lower serum Mg levels linked to higher risk for depressive symptoms23
  • Mg supplementation led to greater reductions in depressive symptoms compared to placebo24
Heart failure
  • higher Mg intake associated with decreased risk of heart failure admission compared to lower intake in the Jackson Heart Study25
  • risk for heart failure reduced by 22 percent for each 100 mg/d increase in Mg intake in a meta-analysis of prospective studies26
Hypertension
  • lower dietary Mg intake linked to increased risk for hypertension in a meta-analysis; hypertension risk decreases five percent for each 100 mg/day increase in Mg uptake27
  • Mg supplementation significantly reduced systolic (-4.18 mmHg) and diastolic (-2.27 mmHg) blood pressure in a meta-analysis of randomized trials28
  • Mg supplementation (median dose 368 mg/d for median of three months) significantly reduced systolic (-2.0 mmHg) and diastolic (-1.78 mmHg) blood pressure in a meta-analysis of randomized trials29
Kidney disease
  • significant association between lower dietary Mg intake and greater risk for rapid declines in kidney function30
Metabolic syndrome
  • higher Mg intake associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome in meta-analyses31
  • over 15-year follow-up, highest Mg intake reduced risk for metabolic syndrome by 31 percent (P<0.01) compared to lowest Mg intake in 4637 adult Americans32
  • Reduced risk for impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance with higher Mg intake33
  • Long-term Mg supplementation significantly improved insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose in meta-analysis34
Migraines
  • magnesium supplementation significantly improved all migraine indicators in randomized study of 133 people with migraines35
Stroke
  • relative risk for stroke decreased by 7 percent to 13 percent for each 100 mg/d increase in Mg intake in meta-analyses of prospective studies26,36
  • risk for stroke reduce 13 percent with highest vs. lowest Mg intake in a prospective study of 180,864 women36
Type diabetes (T2D)
  • significant, linear dose-response relationship; highest Mg intake associated with 15 percent to 17 percent reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) compared to lowest intake in cohort studies and a meta-analysis37,38
  • risk of T2D 8 percent to 13 percent lower per 100 mg/day increase in Mg intake in ameta-analysis37
  • Mg supplementation reduced plasma glucose levels in pre-diabetic adults in a randomized trial39

Health Benefits of Higher Magnesium Intake

In contrast to magnesium deficits, higher dietary magnesium intake has been linked to reduced risk for major diseases, reduced stress and depression, and improved migraine symptoms (see Table 1). Higher dietary intake has also been associated with increased fat-free mass (i.e., skeletal muscle), reduced risk for frailty, improved grip strength and bone density, and reduced risk of mortality due to liver disease.40-43 For example, an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cohort found a 49 percent reduction in risk for mortality due to liver disease for every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake.43

Aging is associated with higher risk for magnesium deficiency due to age-related changes in diet, intestinal absorption, and renal function.44,45 However, adequate magnesium status may support healthy aging not only by reducing risk for the multiple diseases described above, but by preserving chromosomal function. Telomeres are chromosomal structures that contribute to chromosomal integrity and cell health and longevity; reduced telomere length has been linked to age-associated diseases (such as cancer) and mortality.46-47 One study of 10,568 adults from NHANES found that high mineral and vitamin consumption, including magnesium, was associated with increased telomere length, suggesting better cellular integrity.47 Other studies have also identified a link between magnesium status, telomeres, and healthy aging.48

Substantial and mounting evidence, therefore, implicates magnesium deficits in higher risk for multiple serious chronic health conditions, whereas higher magnesium intake reduces health risks and supports normal physiologic function.

Read Part 4 of the Magnesium Blog Series: The Forgotten Nutrient. 

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