Magnesium benefits male hearts, but not women: Review

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Magnesium

Increased intakes of magnesium may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men, but the evidence is lacking for women, says a new review.

And with the mineral being implicated in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, and toxicity issues being rare “oral magnesium supplementation is recommended”​, conclude Tavia Mathers and Renea Beckstrand from Brigham Young University in this month’s issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners​.

“At this time, research is inadequate to prove that oral magnesium intake decreases the future risk of CHD development; but, in the meantime, maintaining a high normal serum magnesium level has been shown to have very few side-effects and is clearly beneficial after the diagnosis of CHD to prevent further complications of heart disease,”​ added Mathers and Beckstrand.

Dietary sources of magnesium include green, leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains and nuts, and milk. Earlier dietary surveys show that a large portion of adults does not meet the RDA for magnesium (320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men).

Magnesium has been heralded as an ingredient to watch for 2010. The new review is therefore a timely appraisal of the cardiovascular benefits of the mineral.

Indeed, a recent report from The Freedonia Group reported that global demand for nutrients and minerals will reach $12.6bn by 2013; a 6.4 per cent increase on last year’s level.

The report, World Nutraceutical Ingredients, highlighted magnesium as one of the minerals with fastest growth, along with calcium. Other fact growing ingredients included soy proteins and isoflavones, psyllium and resistant maltodextrin fibres, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and carotenoids.

Review details

The Utah-based scientists searched the literature and found six randomised control clinical trials (RCT) and prospective studies that met their inclusion criteria. Magnesium doses used in the studies ranged from 130 to 800 milligrams of magnesium per day.

None of the studies reported any adverse effects from magnesium supplementation.

“There was a modest relationship between dietary magnesium intake and a reduced risk of CHD in male subjects; however, there was no noted decrease in the development of CHD disease in women who had high magnesium intake,”​ wrote the researchers. This relationship requires more research, they added.

Beyond the heart

Looking at the bigger picture, Mathers and Beckstrand noted that magnesium may be helpful for other disease states”​, including a reduction in the risk of stroke, improved skeletal growth and development, and a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia in women.

“Because magnesium is relatively safe, affordable, and vital for many functions in the body, oral magnesium supplementation is recommended,”​ they wrote. “Overall, studies suggest that additional research is needed to better explain the association between blood magnesium levels, dietary magnesium intake, and the risk of CHD development,” ​they concluded.

Source: Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
​December 2009, Volume 21, Issue 12, Pages: 651-657
“Oral magnesium supplementation in adults with coronary heart disease or coronary heart disease risk”
Authors: T.W. Mathers, R.L. Beckstrand

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