Optimal - The Blog

March 8, 2023

This is Why We Talk About  Magnesium Soooo Much

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant intracellular divalent cation.

It acts as a cofactor for more than 300 metabolic reactions, such as ATP (energy) production, protein synthesis, DNA/RNA synthesis, and mitochondrial function

Chronic magnesium deficiency contributes to the development and progression of heart failure, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, and metabolic diseases.

Acute magnesium deficiency has been shown to be associated with cardiac arrhythmia and neuromuscular hyper-excitability (such as pre-eclampsia and epilepsy).

Magnesium has been reported to play critical roles in:

  • Heart rhythm
  • Muscle contraction
  • Blood pressure
  • Insulin/glucose metabolism
  • Bone integrity

Hypomagnesemia is commonly observed in:

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke

Low magnesium and cardiometabolic dysfunction

  • CVD patients often have hypomagnesemia, resulting from low Mg intake and increased Mg loss. 
  • Low serum magnesium is associated with increased risk and mortality of acute myocardial infarction
  • Low serum magnesium is a predictor of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality
  • Hypomagnesemia is associated with unstable cardiac electrical repolarization and contributes to sudden death in HF 
  • Hypomagnesemia may increase the risk of CVD by suppressing mitochondrial function with increased oxidative stress and decreased energy production
  • Magnesium deficiency also induces sustained inflammation and interrupts insulin signaling
  • Magnesium deficiency, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress often co-exist in patients with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension

Decreased magnesium intake

  • Dietary magnesium intake is inversely correlated with the occurrence of metabolic diseases, including diabetes mellitus and hypertension
  • Increased consumption of processed food, filtered/deionized drinking water, and crops grown in magnesium-deficient soil has led to a significant decline in magnesium intake
  • The majority of North Americans consume 185–235 mg/day, compared with 450–485 mg/day in ~1900
  • Studies have reported that ~50% of the US population, especially the elderly, consume less than the estimated average requirement for magnesium
  • Dietary magnesium intake of less than 2.3 mg/kg body weight is related to increased risk of heart failure hospitalization in black adults

Decreased magnesium levels

  • ~23% of US adults have hypomagnesemia
  • Reduced Mg levels result in the activation of inflammation, while elevated Mg levels suppress the inflammatory response
  • Hypomagnesemia activates systemic inflammation in at least seven ways
  • Magnesium levels in heart failure are inversely related to inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)
  • Protein kinase C (PKC) activation induced by magnesium deficiency seems to contribute to the synthesis and release of cytokines
  • Mg intake is reported to be inversely associated with the incidence of metabolic syndrome
  • Oxidative stress induced by magnesium deficiency is a major cause of disrupted insulin signaling
  • Chronic diseases and medications such as diuretics, thiazides, cytotoxic drugs, digoxin, aminoglycosides, and steroids can further increase magnesium loss, decrease magnesium absorption, and cause hypomagnesemia.

Magnesium supplementation:

  • Has been used to treat different types of arrhythmias for decades
  • Improves arrhythmias, diastolic and systolic function, inflammation, and myocardial infarction rate in heart failure patients
  • Magnesium is also frequently used in patients undergoing cardiac and pulmonary surgery when lethal arrhythmias often occur
  • A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on 2069 patients demonstrates that prophylactic magnesium administration reduces the risk of supraventricular tachycardia and VA after cardiac surgery
  • Has shown important therapeutic effects in hypertension and stroke
  • Mg supplementation can inhibit the overproduction of reactive oxygen species
  • Helps decrease oxidative stress, suppress inflammation, and reduce clotting factors 
  • Can inhibit tissue transglutaminase and lysyl oxidase, both of which are associated with hypertension and atherosclerosis
  • Can be used to reduce thrombotic complications



Boost your magnesium intake

Recommended dietary allowances of Mg for adults are 400–420 mg for men and 310–320 mg for women 

People who had the highest daily Mg intake (~191 mg Mg/1000 kcal) had significantly higher HDL cholesterol, lower blood glucose, lower fasting insulin levels, and lower blood pressure, compared with people who had the lowest daily Mg intake (~96 mg/1000 kcal)

Increasing dietary Mg intake (per 100 mg/day increment) is linked to a 22% reduction in the risk of heart failure, as well as reduced risks of all-cause mortality, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

Magnesium-rich foods

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, turnip greens)
  • Vegetables (acorn squash, artichokes, okra, sweet corn, potato)
  • Nuts (almond, cashew, peanuts, and Brazil nuts), seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame seeds, chia seeds)
  • Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, soybeans, lima beans, lentils, chickpeas, and green peas)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and halibut)
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits (bananas, dried figs, guavas, avocados, kiwi, papaya, berries, cantaloupe, and grapefruit)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yogurt
  • Mediterranean diet
  • DASH diet


Liu, Man, and Samuel C Dudley Jr. “Magnesium, Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,10 907. 23 Sep. 2020, doi:10.3390/antiox9100907 This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

 Check out more about optimal magnesium blood levels HERE
Tag(s): Biomarkers

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