Magnesium has long been a neglected mineral. Health care providers are more likely to pay attention to minerals such as potassium, although some of the same drugs that lead to potassium depletion also affect magnesium. On the other hand, scientists have evidence that adequate magnesium levels are critical for maintaining good vitamin D levels. How does magnesium affect your heart?
Adequate Magnesium for Heart Health:
For years, nutrition scientists have suspected that magnesium is important for heart health. A new study confirms their suspicions (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 2020).
Researchers evaluated more than 14,000 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) over 27 years. Those with low serum magnesium early in the study were 28% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with the highest levels. This link was stronger among women than among men.
Scientists still don’t know whether increasing serum magnesium with supplements or dietary adjustments would reduce the risk of heart disease. Serum levels do not actually tell the whole story on whether one has adequate magnesium in the body. Most magnesium is located in the cells rather than in the bloodstream.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
The recommended dietary allowance of magnesium changes with age. For males 19 to 30 years old, it is 400 mg per day, but increases to 420 mg for men over 30. For women, the allowance is 310 mg between ages 19 and 30, increasing to 320 over 30. Pregnant and lactating women have higher needs. Most people tolerate a magnesium supplement such as magnesium citrate up to about 300 mg per day. Higher levels can cause diarrhea and may also put a strain on the kidneys. People with kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements.
Foods like leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes are rich in magnesium and can help people maintain adequate magnesium levels. Some possibly unexpected sources: edamame, peanut butter, avocado, yogurt and dark chocolate.
Learn far more about the importance of magnesium in Dr. Tieraona Low Dog’s excellent book, Fortify Your Life: Your Guide To Vitamins, Minerals and More.