The National Magnesium CrisisDecember 2016 The majority of Americans do not obtain enough magnesium, which predisposes them to a host of serious illnesses. Human studies show that low magnesium levels accelerate pathological aging, while higher magnesium intake reduces overall mortality.
By Stuart Greenfield
Magnesium and Longevity
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Benefits of Magnesium
- Magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in our bodies.
- Although it has been overlooked for years, magnesium is now emerging as a multi-targeted nutrient with myriad functions throughout the body.
- Magnesium is particularly important in electrically active cells, such as those in the brain, heart, muscles, and artery linings.
- 70% to 80% of Americans fail to meet the estimated average requirements of magnesium from their diet, leaving them vulnerable to disorders linked to its deficiency.
- Studies now show that ample magnesium intake is protective against a host of age-related disorders, including cardiovascular disease and stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and more.
- For reliable, consistent daily intake of magnesium, look for a supplement that offers both immediate and extended release.
Magnesium Promotes Cardiovascular HealthOne of magnesium’s most critical benefits is its ability to protect against the number one killer of Americans: cardiovascular disease. Studies show that people with the highest dietary intake of magnesium are 37% less likely to die from a sudden cardiac death.22 Even better, compared to those with the lowest intake, those with the highest intake were found to be 34% less likely to die from any cause at all.23 Magnesium has numerous mechanisms of action that explain its ability to protect against cardiac deaths. The cardioprotective actions include magnesium’s role in maintaining heartbeats and preventing arrhythmias, and in protecting blood vessels against the accumulation of calcium. This can help lower the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a well-known predictor of heart disease, stroke, and death.22,24,25 Studies show that for each 50 mg increase in daily magnesium intake, calcification of the heart’s main arteries decreased by 22%, and calcification of the aorta—the body’s main artery—fell by 12%. As a result, those with the highest magnesium intake were 58% less likely to have any calcification of the coronary arteries and 34%less likely to have any calcification of the abdominal aorta.26 On the other hand, low dietary intakes and blood levels of magnesium are associated with elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases in general, and of arterial calcification specifically.2,25,27,28 One study showed that those with the lowest levels of serum magnesium were 2.1 times more likely to have coronary artery calcification.29 These studies showing the dangers of low magnesium levels—and the incredible benefits of obtaining adequate magnesium levels—make it clear that magnesium is an essential component of cardiovascular health.
MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS VARY
Magnesium Lowers Stroke RiskThere are numerous factors that can lead to a stroke. For example, strokes can occur when blood pressure is too high, weakening cerebral arteries in a way that can induce bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). More common strokes occur when artery linings are damaged, setting up conditions for an artery-blocking clot (ischemic stroke). They also commonly occur when a heart arrhythmia or artificial heart valve creates a blood clot that travels into a cerebral artery and blocks vital blood flow (ischemic stroke).30,31 Maintaining consistent magnesium levels may help to prevent all of these processes. In one study, men with the highest magnesium intake had significantly lower blood pressure and total cholesterol, and were 41% less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest magnesium intake.3 And according to a 24-year-long study of nearly 43,000 men, subjects with the highest supplemental magnesium intake had a 26% lower stroke risk than those with the lowest intake.32 Studies in women have also shown the dangers of having low blood levels of this mineral. In one of these studies, women with the lowest blood levels of magnesium were found to be 34% more likely to have an ischemic stroke than those with higher levels.33 And in another study, low blood magnesium levels were associated with an approximate 50% greater likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat that can cause a blood clot that can lead to a stroke) compared to those with higher levels.34 Magnesium is so critical for helping maintain a regular heartbeat that hospitals use intravenous magnesium to prevent atrial fibrillation following heart bypass surgery.35
Magnesium Improves Blood Sugar ControlAging and obesity induce insulin resistance, which elevates blood sugar levels. High, or even “borderline high,” blood sugar inflicts glycation damage to proteins throughout the body that prevents them from functioning properly. Controlling blood sugar—even in nondiabetic people—is a critical approach to preventing age-related diseases. Magnesium supplementation improves the body’s response to insulin, which takes sugar out of the bloodstream. A comprehensive review of 21 smaller clinical trials showed that magnesium supplementation led to significant improvements in insulin resistance.4 For example, after just four months, those supplementing with magnesium had an average of 13 mg/dL lower blood sugar levels compared with placebo recipients. The longer the subjects took the magnesium, the greater the improvements in insulin resistance. The effects were greatest in those subjects whose magnesium levels were lowest at the beginning of the study. Importantly, these improvements were seen in both diabetic and nondiabetic patients. This is critical because nondiabetics with borderline elevated blood sugar are at increased risk for developing diabetes. This study showed that magnesium is effective both for treating and for preventing diabetes.
Magnesium and Kidney ProtectionThe kidneys take a beating every day as they filter out waste products from blood. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to the effects of blood pressure and endothelial dysfunction, as well as the ravages of borderline or high glucose levels. Sustained over a lifetime, those factors raise the risk of serious kidney disease. Kidney disease itself weakens the kidney’s ability to regulate magnesium. This contributes to ongoing losses of magnesium and makes magnesium supplementation that much more critical.36 Researchers studied more than 13,000 middle-aged adults for over 20 years to find out if there was a connection between magnesium levels and kidney disease. They discovered that low magnesium levels are a strong, independent risk factor for chronic kidney disease.5 What they found was that, compared with those with the highest magnesium levels, those with the lowest magnesium levels had a 58%greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and a nearly 2.4-fold greater risk of developing end-stage renal disease, requiring dialysis to sustain life.5
Magnesium Supports Bone and Dental HealthWhile calcium is a well-known bone-protecting nutrient, few people recognize the important role magnesium plays in maintaining healthy bones. In fact, about half of total body magnesium is stored in bones.7,11 Because of that, low levels of magnesium directly lead to osteoporosis by depriving bone tissue of one of its most essential structural components. Low magnesium also indirectly weakens bones by stimulating inflammatory cytokines that contribute to osteoporosis by increasing the breakdown of bones.37,38 The fact that 70%–80% of Americans don’t meet the daily average requirements of magnesium from their diet puts the large majority of the population at risk for this serious condition. Fortunately, assuring good magnesium intake helps protect against osteoporosis. A large study of women demonstrated that those whose daily magnesium intake exceeded 423 mg had greater hip and whole-body bone mineral density compared with those getting less than 207 mg daily.39 This protection extends to teeth as well. Like bones, teeth also have high magnesium content and rely on its presence for their structure.40 Because of this connection, magnesium supplementation has been found to improve tooth attachment and help subjects retain more teeth.41
Magnesium and Migraines
How It WorksMagnesium is an absolute requirement for energy production from fats and carbohydrates and for synthesis of new proteins in our body.47 Magnesium helps regulate the flow of other mineral ions in and out of cells in skeletal and heart muscle, in artery walls, and in brain and nerve cells. As a result, it is related to conditions as diverse as depression (involving brain cells), muscle cramps(involving skeletal muscle), heart arrhythmias (involving heart muscle cells), and hypertension (often involving cells in arterial walls).1,48-52 Magnesium also fights against the chronic, low-grade inflammation associated with aging and unhealthy lifestyles.53-55 This effect has been traced to magnesium’s ability to reduce the activity of the “master inflammation regulator” called NF-kB, which results in downstream shutdown of cytokines and other pro-inflammation signaling molecules.56 Inflammation is a major contributor to a wide range of chronic, age-related diseases. This explains in part why poor magnesium status is so closely associated with diabesity (diabetes and obesity) and metabolic syndrome, with cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.57-59 The role of magnesium deficiency in chronic inflammatory stress led researchers to conclude that it should be considered a significant nutrient for health and well-being.54
MAGNESIUM’S UNDERAPPRECIATED ROLE IN HEALTHY LONGEVITY
SummaryMagnesium has been described as an “orphan nutrient,” because so few people really understand its importance. Yet it is involved in hundreds of critical body processes. Few Americans get adequate magnesium to support all of those processes, leaving them vulnerable to a host of potentially serious diseases. Fortunately, magnesium is a low-cost supplement available without the need of a doctor’s prescription. Magnesium is emerging as this generation’s vitamin D—an overlooked nutrient that favorably alters human disease risk and improves quality of life. If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.
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