Magnesium Foods and Cardiovascular Health

Dietary Magnesium and Magnesum SupplementsA whole slew of news reports have recently covered two studies of the effects of dietary magnesium on cardiovascular health and strokes. It’s certainly good news, as it shows a clear connection between dietary magnesium intake and the two. The problem with the new reports, though, is that many of them simply say magnesium intake and leave the “dietary” part off. This is a big mistake.

People who read these reports may rush out and buy magnesium supplements to improve their cardiovascular performance. And that’s not a good idea, because there was nothing in the studies to connect magnesium supplements to cardiovascular improvement and reduce risk of stroke. The studies specifically looked at dietary magnesium, which means increased magnesium from eating magnesium rich foods.

Now the good news, if you are one of those who are ready to eat magnesium foods rather than popping pills.

In seven prospective studies, with 6477 cases of stroke and 241,378 participants researchers observed

…a modest but statistically significant inverse association between magnesium intake and risk of stroke. An intake increment of 100 mg Mg/d was associated with an 8% reduction in risk of total stroke (combined RR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.97), without heterogeneity among studies (P = 0.66, I2 = 0%). Magnesium intake was inversely associated with risk of ischemic stroke…

Again, this 100mg per day hasn’t been shown to work if you get it from a supplement. To get the effects noted in this study you need to get that 100mg of magnesium from food. It’s about 100 pumpkin seeds, 33 almonds, or a small serving of fish or spinach.

There are times when magnesium supplements have been shown to be effective, but this is not one of them. Be very careful when you use magnesium to treat a certain health issue, as in some cases the supplements to not have the efficacy of dietary magnesium. Don’t rely one blogs (not even this one) to give you this info. Look for the source of the study cited. Copy and paste it into Google, and read the abstract for yourself. It will take all of a minute or two. Make sure the study specifies either supplements or dietary magnesium. If it doesn’t, then it’s safer to assume that only dietary magnesium will work, as that’s often the case.

This particular abstract (Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies1,2,3,4, Susanna C Larsson, Nicola Orsini, and Alicja Wolk) can be found at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

be found here.

Colon Cancer Incidence Reduced by Magnesium Rich Foods?

Medical study finds an inverse link between magnesium intake and colon cancerYet more studies have provided evidence that magnesium rich foods may reduce the risks of colon cancer. No surprises here, though more work needs to be done in this area.

The Journal of Nutrition published a study by doctors at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, Japan involving 40,000 men and 46,000 women, an reassuringly large sample for testing.
The 40,830 men and 46,287 women were followed up for 8 years. This study did not include an analysis of supplement use among participants. It focused strictly on magnesium intake from foods and dietary sources.

The study showed that higher intake of dietary magnesium was strongly associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer (colon cancer) in men. The study, however, showed no such correlation among the women. Investigators speculate that this discrepancy between the genders may be partly due to differences in alcohol consumption. Japanese men consume nearly four times as much alcohol as women, and that magnesium may counteract the oxidate stress of alcohol.

The investigators acknowledge that beneficial associations between magnesium intake and CRC risk may include the influence of other nutrients from foods, as participants with higher intakes of magnesium also tended to consume higher intakes of foods rich in calcium, zinc, fiber, folate, B-6 and vitamin D. Researchers conclude by stating “Increased intake of magnesium-rich foods is recommended if other studies, including randomized control trials, confirm our findings.”

The findings show a strong 52% reduction in colon cancer among men whose daily intake of magnesium was 327mg or greater, as opposed to the group whose intake was 238mg or less.

This was the latest of several studies suggesting a link between insufficient magnesium intake and colon cancer, including a Swedish study that showed magnesium reducing the chances of colon cancer in women. This study included supplements, and readers should note that Swedish women and Japanese women have very different genetic predispositions and diets.

Two things that are worth repeating here…

One is that increased consumption of magnesium  rich foods almost guarantees that you will be getting more of all kinds of good nutrition. Again, foods that are high in magnesium tend to be very healthy and nutritious foods to begin with. So, by targeting more magnesium in your diet, you are in fact improving your diet in countless ways that you do not even know of.

The second point is the relation between alcohol and magnesium. While not mentioned by the doctors in the study above, alcohol consumption is know to decrease the magnesium levels in your cells. Obviously, eating A Japanese man who drank too much, a common sight at train stations in the eveninga magnesium rich diet would help to counteract this. This may have also played a role in the Japanese study, as Japanese men do tend to drink much more than Japanese women (though many Japanese women are surprisingly strong drinkers as well).

Keep this in mind if you drink more than you should, and at least try to balance it out with a healthy diet of foods high in magnesium.