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Magnesium - This Mineral May Help Reduce Your Risk of Disease

Magnesium mineral and risk of disease

Do you take in enough magnesium? If not, you should - it may help protect you from certain common diseases.


Magnesium is a vital nutrient for human health as it supports biological functions such as glucose metabolism, protein production, and synthesis of nucleic acids such as DNA. It is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body and is required for energy production as well.

In fact, the adult body contains approximately 25 grams of magnesium, mostly in the bones, but also in the soft tissue and in the blood.

Ensuring that your diet is sufficient in magnesium may also be protective against diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Researchers from China evaluated 40 over the past few years and found that those whose diets were rich in the mineral had a 10% lower risk of heart disease, 12% lower risk of stroke, and 26% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Although magnesium is abundant in many foods, it seems some people still do not get enough on a daily basis.
Dr. Fudi Wang, lead author of the study published in BMC Medicine says, “The current health guidelines recommend a magnesium intake of around 300 mg per day for men and 270 mg per day for women. Despite this, magnesium deficiency is relatively common, affecting between 2.5% and 15% of the general population.”

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People who are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency include those with gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes (due to magnesium loss through the kidneys), and older adults who may take medicines that alter magnesium status.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur. Severe magnesium deficiency can result in hypocalcemia (low blood calcium) or hypokalemia (low potassium levels) because mineral homeostasis is disrupted.

Food sources of magnesium include nuts (especially almonds, cashews and peanuts), beans (black beans, edamame, and kidney beans), whole grains, and leafy green vegetables (spinach).

Journal Reference: Xuexian Fang, Fudi Wang, et al. Dietary magnesium intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, BMC Medicine, doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0742-z, published 8 December 2016.

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