Role of Magnesium in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Abstracted by Tatjana Djakovic, MS, from “Associations of dietary magnesium intake with mortality from cardiovascular disease: The JACC study” in the January 28, 2012 Atherosclerosis.
Magnesium has important disease prevention qualities, yet the importance of this mineral is commonly overlooked. It has been hypothesized that it protects against cardiovascular disease and its benefits include reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of diabetes. (1) There have been other studies which have analyzed the relationship between magnesium and cardiovascular disease, but they have yielded mixed results. (2) Furthermore, not much evidence exists on the relationship between magnesium intake and death due to cardiovascular disease.
Researchers recently the relationship of magnesium and heart disease in a large scale study known as the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study, consisting of 58,615 Japanese aged 40-79 years old from 45 different communities. Between 1988 and 1990, the subjects’ magnesium intake was assessed by using a food frequency questionnaire to estimate their average consumption of certain foods over the previous years.
In order to validate the long-term dietary intakes, four 3-day dietary records were collected over a one year period. (3) The average dietary intake of magnesium was 301 gm per day, while the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 420 mg per day for men and 320 mg for women. (4)
The subjects were excluded if they had a history of stroke or any cardiovascular disease. Mortality was analyzed through the review of death certificates in each community, which included information on death from cardiovascular disease. Confounding factors such as BMI, smoking, history of hypertension or diabetes were compensated for in the data analysis.
During a follow up of 14.7 years, there were 2690 deaths from heart disease, consisting of 1,227 deaths from strokes, and 557 deaths from coronary heart disease. Researchers found that dietary magnesium intake was associated with a lower risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke in men, and reduced death from heart disease and total cardiovascular disease in women. Statistically, the relationship can be assessed using the p value, which should be less than 0.05 if magnesium lowers cardiovascular disease. The p value reduction was 0.010 for total stroke, 0.005 for coronary heart disease, 0.002 for heart failure, less than 0.001 for cardiovascular disease in women, all of which show that magnesium lowers cardiovascular disease that ends in mortality. (3)
The study indicated that dietary intakes of calcium, sodium and potassium were greater with increasing dietary magnesium intake, so it was difficult to tell if the calcium, sodium, potassium or magnesium was causing the lower mortality. However, in the present study, reduced mortality from coronary heart disease, heart failure and total cardiovascular disease associated with dietary magnesium intake was maintained after dietary calcium intake was taken into account by the statistical adjustment. Biologically, it is plausible that magnesium lowers death from cardiovascular disease because it regulates blood pressure by improving cellular function, inhibiting inflammation, and suppressing ventricular arrhythmia. (5). It is evident from this data that magnesium should not be so easily overlooked.
Tatjana Djakovic, MS, graduated from Roosevelt College in 2011, with concentration in biochemistry. Her research was in determining antioxidants and macronutrients in herbal teas. She is originally from Gospic, Croatia and currently resides in Carol Stream, IL
1. Chakraborti S, Chakraborti T, Mandal M, Mandal A, Das S, Ghosh S. Protective role of magnesium in cardiovascular disease: a review. Mol Cell Biochem 2002;238:163–79.
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3. Wen Z, Hiroyasu I, Tetsuya O, Chigusa D, Tamakoshi A. Associations of dietary magnesium intake with mortality from cardiovascular disease: The JACC study”. Atherosclerosis 2012; 221: 587-595.
5. Touyz RM. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Mol Aspects Med 2003;24:107–36.