Magnesium: Its Proven and Potential Clinical Significance

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South Med J. 2001;94(12) 

In This Article


Epidemiologic studies have shown an inverse relationship between magnesium in the drinking water and cardiovascular mortality.[31,32] This association between magnesium in drinking water and ischemic heart disease was reconfirmed in a major review of the literature done by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University.[33]

The largest epidemiologic study of magnesium status was the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, published in 1995.[34] This was a 5-year, longitudinal study that examined 15,000 patients and compared dietary magnesium, serum magnesium, and race with the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. The study controlled for the potential confounding variables of age and body mass index. The results showed that African Americans had lower dietary magnesium intake along with lower serum magnesium levels, which significantly correlated with a higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

Finally, a 10-year study of 400 high-risk subjects predisposed to coronary artery disease were divided into two groups -- one that received a magnesium-rich diet and another group that received a "usual" diet. Increased dietary magnesium was shown to correlate with fewer cases of sudden death, less total mortality, and a lower incidence of hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, and other coronary risk factors. The group that had lower dietary magnesium also had a lower mean serum magnesium level.[35]