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Magnesium protects against hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes

A relatively high concentration of magnesium in the blood offers protection against hardening of the arteries, write epidemiologists from Mexico City in Nutrition Journal. Their study, in which 1267 Mexicans took part, revealed that magnesium also offers protection against high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes.

Magnesium is found in wholegrain products, nuts, dark chocolate, and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and soya. Because magnesium is found mostly in organic plant and animal-based foods we consume less and less of the mineral. We consume more and more industrially produced foods with a very low nutritional value.

In countries where the diet is determined by the food industry, magnesium intake is sufficient not to become sick, but it is no longer at the level that nutritionists consider optimal.

The researchers studied 1276 Mexicans, aged between 30 and 75, all of whom were free of cardiovascular disease. The subjects were scanned to check whether they had hardening of the arteries. [CAC-score > 0 = a form of arteriosclerosis.]

The researchers also measured the level of magnesium concentration in the participants' blood. On the basis of this the researchers divided the participants into four equal-sized groups. These are called quartiles.

The more magnesium the participants had in their blood, the healthier they were. And a relatively high magnesium level not only reduced the chance of arteriosclerosis, but also the chance of high blood pressure and type 2-diabetes.

Magnesium protects against hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes

The researchers suspect that magnesium inhibits inflammatory processes that play a role in the hardening of the arteries. [Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1068-74.]

They also think that the positive effect of magnesium on blood pressure has to do with magnesium's ability to displace calcium. [Am Heart J. 1984 Jul;108(1):188-93.] Calcium causes blood vessel walls to squeeze together and magnesium does the opposite. [Br J Pharmacol. 1987 Jul;91(3):449-451.] [Acta Physiol Hung. 1992;79(3):295-303.]

The researchers do not know for sure how magnesium reduces the chance of type 2 diabetes.

"The results of this study strongly suggest that lower serum magnesium levels are associated with coronary artery calcification in Mexican subjects free of clinically apparent cardiovascular disease", the researchers concluded. "Confirmation of these results in other populations is required." "

"Additional prospective studies are also needed to determine if hypomagnesaemia predicts the development and progression of coronary atherosclerosis."

Nutr J. 2016 Mar 1;15(1):22.

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