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2013-12-11

Magnesium Intake Saves Lives

My favourite mineral is flexing its muscles again! A new study on magnesium found that those with the highest average dietary magnesium intake had a 34% lower risk of mortality (death) from cardiovascular issues and cancer (compared to those with the lowest average daily intake).

The researchers performed a prospective study using participants (7216 men and women, 55-80 years old) from the Spanish study PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) study. Participants in this study were selected based on a high risk of cardiovascular disease and were randomly assigned to Mediterranean diets supplemented with nuts or olive oil or a low-fat control diet. Data was collected for about five years, in which 323 people died. Of these deaths, 130 were from cancer and 81 were from cardiovascular events (stroke, heart attack, heart disease). In addition 277 cardiovascular events were documented (not resulting in death).

Doing the math, the researchers found that the highest level of intake was not much higher (to my surprise) than the lower average intake. Those with the higher average daily intake of magnesium only consumed 442 mg/day. Those who consumed the lowest average intake consumed 312 mg/day. Even though this is only a difference of 130 mg/day, the numbers revealed that those who consumer the highest amount of magnesium had a 59% reduction in death from cardiovascular events, a 37% reduction in death from cancer, and a 34% reduction in "all-cause" mortality (when compared to those who consumed just 130 mg/day less).

“There may be several explanations for these associations,” wrote the researchers. “In particular, hypertension is a strong risk factor for CVD, and it is known that magnesium can lower blood pressure. Also, magnesium intake may inhibit platelet aggregation, modulate inflammation, and improve endothelial function. All of these mechanisms can have a beneficial effect on lowering the risk of CVD and death.”

As for its cancer-related benefits, the researchers said that the mineral is involved in biochemical reactions that can modulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis.

Other benefits of this mineral include: helping maintain normal nerve and muscle function, helping to maintain a steady heart rate, supporting a healthy immune system, and helping to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.

Unfortunately, despite increasing awareness behind magnesium's varied health benefits, statistics show that 70-80% of the US population is not consuming the recommended daily intake. In Canada, we could use these American stats to approximate the percent of Canadians with deficient intake as well.

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Source: Dietary Magnesium Intake Is Inversely Associated with Mortality in Adults at High Cardiovascular Risk

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