When it comes to keeping our hearts in the best shape, we often forget the important role magnesium plays. Could this mineral be a missing link to improved cardiovascular health?
Let’s take a closer look.
Is Magnesium the Missing Link to a Healthy Heart?
The risk of heart disease increases with age. A major factor in this increase is magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is required for proper muscle contraction, nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure control.
But despite how important this mineral is, nearly 75% of American adults don’t get the recommended intake. Several factors can contribute to magnesium deficiency, including certain medications, chronic stress, gastrointestinal diseases, and a poor diet.
A few signs that might indicate you’re not getting enough magnesium include:
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- High blood pressure
Magnesium and Heart Health
Heart health is directly linked to your magnesium levels in the body, as this mineral helps to keep the heart muscle relaxed and functioning properly. Let’s explore this connection.
Helps regulate heart rhythm
The highest levels of magnesium reside in the heart. Electrolytes, including sodium, calcium, and potassium, are transported into the cells by magnesium, a process crucial to a healthy heart. A magnesium deficiency can change the way electricity flows through the heart, and as a result, alter the heart's rhythm.
Aside from preventing erratic electrical conductivity in the heart, magnesium also coordinates the activity of the heart muscles and nerves that regulate the heartbeat. A 2013 study showed that low magnesium levels can lead to atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, which occurs when the electrical system of the heart causes the upper chambers to quiver. Considering that the CDC estimates between 2.7 and 6.1 million people struggle with AFib, it might be wise to start giving magnesium deficiency a closer look.
Supports a normal blood pressure
Magnesium increases the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels. This means magnesium may play a role in maintaining a normal blood pressure range. The right balance of minerals - sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium play a central role in the normal regulation of blood pressure. Research suggests that diets with adequate magnesium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Helps regulate muscle contractions
Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper, controlling the influx of calcium necessary for muscle contractions. If magnesium levels are too low, the cells can become overloaded with calcium; leading to hyperexcitability and calcification. Instead of relaxing when needed - your muscles contract too much, causing frequent cramps or spasms. The popularity of calcium supplementation often leads to a neglect of magnesium, yet both minerals are essential for our bodies to function the best.
Promotes blood sugar balance
Insulin is a hormone that helps move sugar from your bloodstream and into your cells to be used for energy. If you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose (sugar) from your blood for energy. Lack of magnesium is one of the major reasons why cells stop responding to insulin. When magnesium levels are low, glucose can’t enter cells and high levels of sugar build up in the blood as a result. Having insulin resistance increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health problems.
Are Magnesium Supplements Good For Your Heart?
A 2000 study from Circulation suggests that magnesium is essential for heart health. Half of the patients participating in the study took 365 mg of magnesium twice daily for six months, while the other half took a placebo. Patients who took magnesium reported less stress on the treadmill and better vessel function. Almost 75% of the participants began with a magnesium deficiency, but most rose to normal levels by the end.
Research continues to reflect the benefits of magnesium for the heart. It’s been shown that magnesium supplements may potentially improve:
- Congestive heart failure
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Supraventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular arrhythmia
- Coronary vasospasm
- Oxidative stress and myocardial injury
- Mitral valve prolapse
With all of this in mind, it’s clear to see the vital role that magnesium plays in your heart health. If you feel you may be magnesium deficient, you can work toward optimizing your magnesium levels through proper diet and dietary supplements.
Should I Take a Magnesium Supplement?
During your weekly grocery trip to the produce section, you may not realize that the quality of nutrients in our food has declined over the past 70 years. Research shows that many fruits, vegetables, and grains grown today contain less protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C than those grown decades ago. And as our soils become increasingly depleted of minerals, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get the minerals we need from our food. This is particularly true for magnesium.
There are many dietary sources of magnesium, including whole grains, dark leafy greens, fish, nuts, legumes, and avocados. However, supplementation may be necessary to help fill in the gaps. Magnesium supplements come in a wide range - magnesium oxide, citrate, and glycinate to name a few - but liquid magnesium chloride is one of the most effective. This form can penetrate the cells quickly to ensure optimal benefit. You can also easily adjust the dosage according to your needs.
Keep in mind that low-quality magnesium supplements can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. As a result, you may experience cramping or diarrhea. When this occurs, it means most of the magnesium you've taken was wasted instead of being absorbed by your body. A high-quality liquid supplement can provide a better absorption rate and minimize stomach discomfort.
Side Effects And Risks
For most, adding a magnesium supplement to optimize heart health is considered safe. However, some people may need to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement. If you have chronic kidney disease, or if you take antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, diuretics, or bisphosphonates, you should seek out more guidance.
Magnesium is arguably one of the most important minerals for cardiovascular health. While there are many other factors at play, it’s clear that magnesium deficiency can contribute to an increased risk of heart-related conditions. For this reason, ensuring adequate dietary intake of magnesium or taking a quality liquid mineral supplement may be a wise choice if you want to take steps to protect your heart health long-term.
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