Sufficient dietary levels of the mineral nutrient magnesium might be a boon to good blood pressure new research suggests.
“Magnesium dilates arteries, and in doing so lowers the blood pressure,” explained Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist who reviewed the new findings. “Foods high in magnesium include whole grains, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables,” she added.
The new study was led by Dr. Yiqing Song, associate professor of epidemiology at Indiana University’s School of Public Health. According to the researchers, past studies that focused on the role of magnesium in regulating blood pressure have been relatively small, and produced mixed and controversial results.
To help sort the data out, Song’s group pooled the data from 34 clinical trials on magnesium supplements, which together involved more than 2,000 people.
The daily dosage of magnesium supplements used ranged from 240 mg to 960 mg. Most trials had participants meet or exceed the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for daily magnesium intake.
Sifting through the collected data, Song’s team detected a small but significant link between magnesium intake and healthy reductions in blood pressure.
Song and his colleagues believe that the benefits of magnesium in regulating blood pressure may only apply to people with a magnesium deficiency or insufficiency.
Still, the finding “underscores the importance of consuming a healthy diet that provides the recommended amount of magnesium as a strategy for helping to control blood pressure,” American Heart Association Spokeswoman Penny Kris-Etherton said in an AHA news release.
“This amount of magnesium [368 mg/day] can be obtained from a healthy diet that is consistent with AHA dietary recommendations,” said Kris-Etherton, who is a professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania.
That means that, with a healthy diet, it isn’t necessary to take magnesium supplements, the AHA said.
“Checking magnesium levels as part of a screening for heart health may become an essential part of prevention and for the treatment of blood pressure,” said Steinbaum, who directs Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The findings were published July 11 in Hypertension.
Checking magnesium levels is already a part of the laboratory screening I recommend on a yearly basis for all my patients, not just those with increased cardiac risk.
The slight reduction in blood pressure is secondary to the sedative effects that magnesium exerts of the nerve supply to the heart. Clinically, the real benefit of magnesium is its use for tachycardia and AF (atrial fibrillation).
When I supplement magnesium, we began with 100 mg/day, then increase by 100 mg/day until the stool becomes loose. At that point, some of the magnesium is failing to be absorbed, ends up in the bowel and acts as a laxative. So we decrease by 100 mg/day to reach the daily dose.
Over time, as the magnesium deficiency is reduced, the loose stool may return and we subsequently reduce the daily dose by another 100 mg. This may happen repeatedly. I initially maxed out at 600 mg/day but now take 200 mg/day.
The Bottom Line:
Magnesium is a vital mineral that can be invaluable in the treatment of many heart conditions. Remember, hypertension is a result, a symptom of a number of imbalances in the cardiovascular system. Blood pressure is just a test, an attempt to measure hyper or hypotension. Treating tests has limited value at best.
Source: July 12, 2016 National Institutes of Health