Increased magnesium intakes may reduce mortality risk

December 5, 2013

A new study from Spain says that people at a high risk of cardiovascular disease may reduce their risk of dying by increasing magnesium intakes.

In the prospective study, 7,216 men and women at a high risk of cardiovascular disease aged between 55 and 80 followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or olive oil or a low-fat control diet (1). Over almost five years, participants’ magnesium intakes were estimated and death cases were documented. The study results showed that participants with the highest average intakes of magnesium (442 mg/day) showed a 59% reduction in cardiovascular mortality, a 37% reduction in cancer mortality, and a 34% reduction in all-cause mortality, compared to participants with the lowest average intakes (312 mg/day).

The researchers commented that multiple mechanisms could have a beneficial effect on lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and death: magnesium can lower blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregation, mo- dulate inflammation and improve endothelial function (2, 3). Intake of magnesium was also reported to reduce insulin resistance and the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a potential risk factor for cancer (4). The researchers acknowledged that magnesium is an isolated nutrient, and it is important to investigate the associations between the whole diet and health.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued positive opinions on magnesium and the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis, the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, electrolyte balance, normal energy-yielding metabolism, neurotransmission and muscle contraction (5). The US National Institu- tes of Health (NIH) states that magnesium helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong (6). In addition, the mineral is needed for blood sugar management and healthy blood pressure. However, statistics show that between 70% and 80% of the US population are not meeting their recommended intakes of magnesium (7).


  1. Guasch-Ferré M. et al. Dietary Magnesium Intake Is Inversely Associated with Mortality in Adults at High Cardiovascular Risk. Journal of Nutrition. Published online December 2013.
  2. Saris N. E. et al. Magnesium. An update on physiological, clinical and analytical aspects. Clin Chim Acta. 2000; 294:1–26.
  3. Chakraborti S. et al. Protective role of magnesium in cardiovascular diseases: a review. Mol Cell Biochem. 2002; 238:163–179.
  4. Rodríguez-Morán M. et al. The role of magnesium in type 2 diabetes: a brief based-clinical review. Magnes Res. 2011; 24:156–162.
  5. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium. EFSA Journal. 2009; 7(9):1216.
  7. Ford E. S. and Mokdad A. H. Dietary Magnesium Intake in a National Sample of U.S. Adults. J. Nutr. 2003; 33(9):2879–2882.