A growing number of Americans are using magnesium-rich foods as a preventative measure against high blood pressure and heart attack, according to a study published in the journal Circulation.
“Many people in the U.S. are consuming diets rich in magnesium, including many who are taking statins and calcium-based medications, which can raise the risk of blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks,” said study co-author Elizabeth J. Dube, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and vice president for health policy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“There are many different ways to eat and it is important to look at how magnesium can be taken as a supplement or dietary supplement,” Dube added.
“It has been used for centuries as a therapeutic ingredient in herbs and for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
But magnesium is not a food and there is no evidence it is dangerous.”
The study examined the relationship between magnesium intake and a range of blood pressures and heart-attack symptoms.
Researchers found that high intakes of magnesium were linked to increased risk of heart attacks and high blood pressures.
Magnesium is found in foods such as vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals.
“In a study that included about 6,000 men and women, we found that there were significant differences in the relationship of magnesium intake with blood pressure in the high- and low-glycemic index groups compared with those in the normal- or no-glyccemic index group,” said lead author Dr. Matthew R. Hagerty, PhD, of the University College London, and his colleagues.
“The results suggested that dietary magnesium intake could be a strong protective factor against blood pressure.”
The findings were based on a large prospective cohort study of more than 26,000 U.K. adults.
The researchers analyzed data from the British Health Survey between 1985 and 2011.
“We found that the associations between magnesium and blood pressure were strongest among people in low- and high-glycemia groups,” said Hagery.
“But even people with high-sugar diets, which include many processed foods, were at greater risk of high blood concentrations of magnesium, particularly when compared with people in moderate- to low-sucrose groups.
The magnesium effect in people with diabetes was also stronger than in people without diabetes.”
The research was supported by the British Heart Foundation, the British Association for Cardiovascular Research, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Hagerty is now working to investigate the impact of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure.
He is working with Dr. Andrew R. Ruhl, MD.