Magnesium and Women’s Heart Health
Studies Find Magnesium Lowers Heart Attack Risk
New studies at the Harvard Medical School reveal that women with high levels of magnesium in their diet have a 37% reduced risk of sudden heart failure compared to the lowest female average intake. Magnesium plays an essential role in many processes in the body. Most of the population (68%) of the United States are thought to be magnesium deficient and therefore taking magnesium supplements would not only provide protection against sudden heart failure but would also provide the general health benefits of having the recommended levels of this mineral in the body.
Sudden Cardiac Death
This condition can be described as abrupt death from cardiac causes, where the most common causes are narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart, the presence of a blood clot near the heart which causes a blockage of that artery or high blood pressure which causes damage to the left ventricle of the heart. There are many other possible natural causes, of which magnesium deficiency is known to be one.
The Scientific Evidence
Evidence of the benefits of magnesium supplements has been shown in men, where it is associated with a lowering in the risk of suffering coronary heart disease (CHD). However until recently there was little conclusive research into its role in women’s health. This study, which was performed in conjunction with the Brigham Women’s hospital and supported by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and the American Heart Association, was carried out in a sample of 88,375 women over the course of 26 years. As it was performed over such a duration of time and for such a great sample of women, this study provides highly reputable evidence of the health benefits of taking a magnesium supplement.
Of these subjects, 505 women succumbed to sudden heart failure; of these 505 cases, 99 were cases of sudden cardiac death and 291 were cases of sudden cardiac failure where the women survived. These subjects were investigated in depth to see how magnesium might have affected their outcomes. This was achieved by calculating statistics to compare the two groups – cardiac death and survival of cardiac failure – taking into account other factors that might affect results such as age and whether or not the subject was a smoker. These factors are known to skew results, because those of more advanced age are generally at higher risk of suffering sudden cardiac failure or death anyway and certainly smokers are also known to have higher risk of heart disease.
The outcome of the research gave conclusive results of the benefits of magnesium supplements. It was shown that higher concentrations of magnesium in blood plasma, as well as higher dietary intake, were associated with a significant reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death. This association does not necessarily mean that taking magnesium directly causes a lowering in the risk of sudden cardiac death; this is something that is very difficult to prove as the body is such a complex machine and magnesium plays such diverse roles within it. But it certainly is possible that this is the case.
Magnesium is Essential for Life
The current recommended daily intake of magnesium is 320mg for women and 420mg for men. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions that are part of healthy bodily function. Magnesium is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and a magnesium deficiency may lead to problems in controlling blood sugar which may lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. This makes taking a magnesium supplement even more important. Low levels of magnesium have previously been shown to be associated with conditions such as asthma and osteoporosis and so taking magnesium supplements may help to reduce the risk of these diseases. It has been suggested that a magnesium deficiency is associated with some types of depression, and may also be caused by alcohol abuse.
Magnesium in the Diet
Magnesium is found in most unrefined foods including nuts and cereals. It is particularly found in leafy vegetables such as spinach and also in beverage products such as tea, cocoa and coffee. A diet comprised largely of refined cereal grains, something that is common in the US, may explain the prevalence of magnesium deficiency in this part of the world. As it is so difficult for the majority of people to overdose on magnesium, the researchers carrying out the study in women at Harvard and the Brigham women’s hospital recommend taking oral magnesium supplements due to their striking effects on the risk of suffering sudden cardiac death.