It is no secret that magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, is indispensable for many biochemical functions. But it is only recently that researchers are discovering the relationship between a magnesium deficiency and a shorter life.
Recent research has shown that higher magnesium is not only linked with decreased risk of death from all causes, but also with lower odds of a stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart failure.
Read on to find out how you can reap the health benefits of magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency shown to shorten lifespan
In a meta-analysis published in 2016 in BMC Medicine, researchers evaluated the results of studies published in 40 different medical journals, with particular attention to the relationship between dosage and effects. The various studies – some of which were conducted for up to 30 years — involved over a million participants. And what they showed were the dramatic effects of higher dietary magnesium intake on health. Participants with the highest intake of magnesium enjoyed the most protection against disease and premature death – with higher amounts of magnesium boosting protection proportionately.
For example, an increase of 100 mgs of magnesium per day was associated with a 22 percent reduction in heart failure risk, a 7 percent decrease in stroke risk, and a 19 percent decrease in risk of developing type 2 diabetes – not to mention a 10 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.
Magnesium can help us avoid diabetes
In another recent systematic review, which analyzed 25 studies and 637,922 subjects, researchers studied the effects of dietary magnesium on participants who reported daily intakes ranging from 115 to 478 mgs a day. Again, they found a strong association between increasing magnesium levels and a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors of the review, which was published in 2016 in Nutrients, concluded that higher levels of magnesium reduced diabetes risk by 17 percent – with each 100-mg daily increase reflecting a lowered risk of 8 to 13 percent.
Magnesium is vital to the health of virtually all body systems
Magnesium is not only a hard-working essential mineral, but a versatile one. It helps to maintain normal heart rhythm and blood pressure, and helps to keep nerves and muscles functioning. As over 50 percent of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones, it’s no surprise that it is vital for bone growth and strength.
Magnesium also regulates glucose levels in the blood, and is vital for the synthesis of proteins.
And, although magnesium isn’t technically classified as an antioxidant, it behaves like one – helping to decrease oxidative stress, reduce blood vessel dysfunction, and lower blood clot and stroke risk by decreasing the “stickiness” of red blood cells.
Magnesium has strong cardioprotective effects
Magnesium is so effective at supporting optimal cardiac rhythm that doctors administer it intravenously in hospitals to reduce chances of atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmia. And, it improves outcomes for patients who have suffered heart failure. In a study in which congestive heart failure patients received either magnesium or placebo – along with their prescribed cardiovascular medication – 76 percent of the magnesium group was alive after a year, compared to only 52 percent of the control group.
There is new evidence that magnesium prevents metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of unhealthy conditions, which may include insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat and low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. A 15-year study of 5,000 healthy participants aged 18-30 showed that those in the top 25 percent of magnesium intake had 31 percent – almost a third – lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those in the control group.
Finally, an eye-opening Harvard study showed that a magnesium-rich diet protected people from developing type 2 diabetes – at a rate of 34 percent lower risk. And this was true even in the presence of increased risk factors such as increasing age, sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking and overweight – an encouraging finding for those with less-than-optimal health habits, and a testimony to the fact that even small lifestyle changes can have significant effects on health.
How can I put magnesium’s health-promoting properties to work for me?
The Recommended Daily Allowance for magnesium is 420 mgs a day for men and 320 mgs a day for women. However, many natural health experts advise at least 500 mgs a day, and also recommend taking a B-complex vitamin along with magnesium to increase absorption.
To increase your dietary intake of magnesium, you can snack on almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts. Magnesium is also found in beans, whole grains, tofu, bananas, spinach, some varieties of fish, oatmeal and dark chocolate. Naturally, you should always opt for fresh, organic food – as processing does deplete the food of its nutritional value and subject it to many chemicals. Although it’s a good idea to increase dietary magnesium, you may want to consider taking supplemental magnesium as well. Experts say that increasing magnesium through diet causes only modest increase in levels.
Check with your integrative healthcare provider before taking supplemental magnesium – especially if you have heart or kidney disease. Affordable and easy to obtain, magnesium is proving to be a potent mineral to help achieve optimal health.
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