Magnesium is a common element that has many functions in the human body, from energy production to providing bone density. It is also necessary for cardiovascular health. In fact, this simple mineral has been shown in a German study to dramatically reduce both cardiovascular disease mortality rates and the mortality rates from all causes.
Inspired by the Study of Health In Pomerania (SHIP), the researchers analysed rates of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in 4,203 patients in relation to serum magnesium levels. The mean duration of follow up was 10 years. Among people with magnesium levels of 0.73mmol/L or less, the all-cause mortality rate was 10.95 deaths per 1,000 person-years, and the death rate for cardiovascular disease was 3.44 per 1,000 person-years.
However, in those with higher magnesium levels, the all-cause death rate was 1.45 per 1,000 people, and the cardiovascular mortality rate was 1.53 per 1,000. This is a reduction in mortality rates by over 85% in all-cause deaths, and of around 55% in cardiovascular deaths!
So what do the results of this study mean? One could argue that the massive drop in death rates is due to the patient’s diets and lifestyles as a whole, with a high magnesium intake just being another effect. This has some weight to it because the authors excluded those taking magnesium in supplement form, meaning that only dietary intake of magnesium through foods such as green vegetables was responsible for the aforementioned health benefits.
However, the inverse association between magnesium intake and dying was independent of cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension and antihypertensive drug therapy. In addition, multiple studies have found that magnesium deficiency is associated with increased inflammation, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, meaning that the mineral itself is likely to be of particular importance. (Here are 16 magnesium deficiency symptoms to look out for.)
Magnesium deficiency is known to initiate calcium-activated inflammatory pathways that are independent of pathogens or injury, but that is not the only consequence of poor magnesium status, as this mineral is required in over 300 chemical reactions in the body. These include DNA and RNA production, cell migration, cell membrane production and communication between cells.
Signs of magnesium deficiency include symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps and headache, which are so generalized that people with a deficiency often have no idea of what is truly the cause of their symptoms. Unfortunately for many, prescription drugs such as diuretics, high stress and fluoride all deplete this essential mineral from the body, which makes it even more important for people exposed to these things to consume foods high in magnesium.
For those wishing to increase their magnesium intake, there are many foods that contain this vital mineral. Some examples are:
- Oat bran, which has 96mg per ½ cup
- Brown rice, which contains 86mg per cup
- Mackerel, a fish that has 82mg for every three ounces
- Spinach, which contains 78mg per ½ cup
- Almonds (77mg per ounce)
- Lima beans (63mg per ½ cup)
- Bananas (32mg per banana)
- Peanuts and blackstrap molasses (both 48mg per ounce)