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Magnesium and Heart Health

March 7, 2018 by

We all know that you need calcium for strong bones, and you are also probably aware that you need potassium to keep your muscles healthy. But are you aware that you need magnesium for your heart health? Many people are deficient in magnesium, but it is a mineral that we all need because it is essential for hundreds of chemical reactions in our bodies.

Magnesium helps to keep your bones strong, your nerves and muscles working as they should, and it helps keep your blood sugar under control. It is also an important mineral to have in your diet for maintaining a steady heartbeat and healthy blood pressure.

Magnesium is an important part of having a healthy heart rhythm because it helps transport electrolytes such as calcium and potassium to your cells. These act as important nerve signals to help the muscle contractions that are needed for a normal heartbeat. If you have a magnesium deficiency like many people do, it will increase your irregular heartbeats, which is also known as arrhythmias.

In fact, magnesium deficiency in the blood is associated with atrial fibrillation, which is the most common heart rate disorder, which happens when a problem in the heart’s communication system leads to the upper chambers of the heart quivering.

Ongoing research is helping us understand when increasing your magnesium intake can benefit heart health. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation may help lower blood pressure and that a magnesium deficiency is associated with hypertension. Research has also shown that magnesium deficiency is linked to an increased risk of a heart attack.

Twenty-five grams of magnesium in the body is average for a healthy adult. Most of this magnesium can be found in the bones. The recommended daily amount of magnesium adults should have depends on one’s age and sex. If your doctor thinks you may be deficient in magnesium, they will perform a blood test to determine levels of magnesium in your body. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency will show up if your levels drop below 1 mg/dL.

It is best to get the nutrients your body needs mainly from food sources. Magnesium is added to some foods such as breakfast cereal, but there are some excellent natural sources of magnesium as well. Almonds, tofu, and leafy green vegetables are all healthy sources of magnesium. Other sources of magnesium are legumes, black beans, cashews, avocados, soy milk, and whole grains.

Under 1 percent of magnesium in the body is located in the blood. Rather, most magnesium can be found in the bones. Magnesium is also located inside cells, which can make it difficult for doctors to diagnose a magnesium deficiency. In people who are otherwise healthy, having a magnesium deficiency is not very common because the kidneys regulate the amount of magnesium in the body. This means that if your magnesium levels become low, less magnesium is excreted through the urine.

With time, if you do not consume enough magnesium, it can lead to a deficiency. However, some health conditions also deplete magnesium, such as alcoholism, type 2 diabetes, and gastrointestinal diseases. Using diuretics for an extended period of time can also contribute to a loss of magnesium. Older people are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency than younger people because they are more likely to take medications that can lead to a magnesium deficiency. Additionally, as we age, our bodies decrease the absorption of magnesium.

People who are diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency might need to take a supplement to avoid having side effects, such as an irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, and seizures. Consuming too much magnesium from food will not pose a threat to your health because the kidneys will excrete anything the body doesn’t need. However, high doses of magnesium from supplements may lead to side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping. In extreme cases, high doses of magnesium may be fatal.

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