Science Update

Recent Review Explores Potential Relationship Between Magnesium Status and Cardiometabolic Health

Magnesium is the fourth-most common mineral in the body and is critical to hundreds of biochemical processes. It is necessary for muscle contraction, energy production, nerve conduction, and the gating of calcium channels. It also plays a key role in nucleic acid synthesis, DNA repair, and genome maintenance. Pathways related to genome maintenance are essential for optimal cellular function. Research suggests that magnesium also supports certain aspects of cardiovascular health.

A recently published review article by Fritzen and colleagues explored the potential link between magnesium status and certain aspects of cardiometabolic function. Magnesium promotes cardiovascular function by helping to maintain electrical, metabolic, and vascular homeostasis. It has been shown to promote blood vessel integrity by supporting calcium transport into contractile smooth muscle cells. It may also help inhibit the release of certain vasoconstrictive neurohormones and help increase nitric oxide production. 

Optimal endothelial function is related to antioxidative status and a healthy inflammatory response. Magnesium is involved in the synthesis of glutathione and may help protect against oxidative stress, a known contributor to atherogenesis and some cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Evidence suggests it also supports a normal inflammatory response through its ability to help modulate nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and the expression of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to increases in levels of interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-ɑ, and vascular cell adhesion protein (VCAM).

Magnesium also plays an important role in extracellular matrix (ECM) health. It is critical to ECM structure and is required for the enzyme hyaluronan synthase. It supports the critical proteins involved in the regulation of intracellular signaling cascades in vascular smooth muscle to help support stability and normal adhesion. 

Decreases in magnesium status have been associated with an increased risk of certain CVDs. Analysis of eight prospective cohort studies with information on 74,422 individuals and over 5,884 CVD events indicates that the participants in the highest category of serum magnesium concentration had approximately 20% lower risk of total CVD events, as compared to individuals in the lowest serum magnesium concentration category.

The efficacy of magnesium supplementation on parameters related to cardiovascular health has been studied in recent research. A meta-analysis of studies exploring the relationship between magnesium supplementation and hypertension observed decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after 11 to 12 weeks of supplementation with 368 mg to 410 mg of magnesium daily. A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies reported improvements in the risk of heart failure after dietary increases in magnesium of 100 mg daily.  

Research suggests that magnesium levels in the body may take between 20 and 40 weeks to achieve homeostasis; therefore, more long-term clinical studies are needed before clinical conclusions can be made regarding the duration, dosage, and efficacy of magnesium supplementation. However, the evidence suggests that magnesium may help support certain aspects of cardiovascular health and individuals with CVD. Magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and through supplementation. Commonly used magnesium supplements for cardiovascular health include magnesium orotate, magnesium bisglycinate, and magnesium malate.   

By Dr. C. Ambrose, ND, MAT