Mineral power

Magnesium has been one of the mainstays in my arsenal for many conditions. But especially for heart problems.

And I guess I’ve had the right idea. Because according to a new meta-analysis out of Harvard, higher levels of magnesium can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Funny how long it takes them to catch on, isn’t it?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cites magnesium as critical to more than 300 biochemical reactions–from muscle and nerve function, to bone health, to immune support.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also touts the importance of magnesium–for bone maintenance, protein synthesis, energy production, electrolyte balance, neurotransmission, and more.

And there’s plenty of other research out there, too, supporting this mineral’s role in everything from blood sugar control to cancer prevention.

This new review zeroed in on magnesium’s potential heart health benefits. The researchers looked at 16 different studies featuring more than 313,000 subjects.

The numbers showed that for every 0.2 mmol/L increase in circulating magnesium, subjects benefited from a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

And higher dietary magnesium intakes were linked with a 22 percent reduction in risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD)–a condition marked by decreased blood flow to the heart muscle.

Now that is a very significant benefit. Probably better than most drugs–not that your cardiologist would ever tell you about this.

And of course, here comes the kicker: The researchers note that their findings only support an increase in dietary magnesium from foods like nuts, seeds, and vegetables–not from supplements.

So close… but still a world away. Because heaven forbid anyone acknowledge that supplements are actually useful.

What makes them so afraid? Is it because Harvard would have to shut their doors without the generous funding of the pharmaceutical industry? Or is it just plain ignorance?

It’s hard to tell. But you’ve got to wonder what the motivation is. Especially since research shows that as much as 80 percent of the American population isn’t meeting their daily magnesium quota.

Clearly, it’s high time that doctors recognized the importance of this mineral. And started forming their recommendations accordingly.

In the meantime, I’d definitely advise making sure magnesium is one of the ingredients in your multivitamin. If not, switch to one that does contain it.

Just be sure to steer clear of the oxide or citrate forms, as these are the least absorbable. Look for magnesium orotate or aspartate instead.

Circulating and dietary magnesium and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;98(1):160-73.