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

August 6, 2018 • 2 min read

Lower magnesium levels have been linked to a broad array of chronic health conditions, ranging from cardiovascular disease to depression.

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 men [19]
  • lower Mg intake associated with reduced bone mineral density in women [20]
  • reduced dietary Mg intake led to bone loss in animal studies [21]
  • reduced Mg intake documented in postmenopausal women with low bone density [22]
  • lower serum Mg levels linked to higher risk for depressive symptoms [23]
  • Mg supplementation led to greater reductions in depressive symptoms compared to placebo [24]
Heart failure
  • higher Mg intake associated with decreased risk of heart failure admission compared to lower intake in the Jackson Heart Study [25]
  • risk for heart failure reduced by 22% for each 100mg/d increase in Mg intake in a meta-analysis of prospective studies [26]
  • lower dietary Mg intake linked to increased risk for hypertension in a meta-analysis; hypertension risk decreases 5% for each 100mg/day increase in Mg uptake [27]
  • Mg supplementation significantly reduced systolic (-4.18 mmHg) and diastolic (-2.27 mmHg) blood pressure in a meta-analysis of randomized trials [28]
  • Mg supplementation (median dose 368 mg/d for median of 3 months) significantly reduced systolic (-2.0 mmHg) and diastolic (-1.78 mmHg) blood pressure in a meta-analysis of randomized trials 29
Kidney disease
  • significant association between lower dietary Mg intake and greater risk for rapid declines in kidney function 30
Metabolic syndrome
  • higher Mg intake associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome in meta-analyses 31
  • over 15-year follow-up, highest Mg intake reduced risk for metabolic syndrome by 31% (P<0.01) compared to lowest Mg intake in 4637 adult Americans 32
  • Reduced risk for impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance with higher Mg intake 33
  • Long-term Mg supplementation significantly improved insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose in meta-analysis 34
  • magnesium supplementation significantly improved all migraine indicators in randomized study of 133 people with migraines 35
  • relative risk for stroke decreased by 7%-13% for each 100 mg/d increase in Mg intake in meta-analyses of prospective studies 26,36
  • risk for stroke reduce 13% with highest vs. lowest Mg intake in a prospective study of 180,864 women 36
Type diabetes (T2D)
  • significant, linear dose-response relationship; highest Mg intake associated with 15%-17% reduction in risk for T2D compared to lowest intake in cohort studies and a meta-analysis 37,38
  • risk of T2D 8%-13% lower per 100 mg/day increase in Mg intake in ameta-analysis 37
  • Mg supplementation reduced plasma glucose levels in prediabetic adults in a randomized trial 39

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),[40] reduced risk for frailty,[41] improved grip strength and bone density,[42] and reduced risk of mortality due to liver disease.[43] For example, an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cohort found a 49% 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.

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