Magnesium in diet may alter heart disease risk
Greater intake of magnesium -- one of the minerals recommended in a healthy diet -- appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, a study of more than 7,000 men shows.
Dr. Robert D. Abbott of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, and others, note in the American Journal of Cardiology that although magnesium deficiency is believed to be detrimental for the heart, the association "has not been clearly identified."
In order to do so, the researchers examined dietary magnesium intake in 7172 men who took part in the Honolulu Heart Program. At enrollment, the average daily dietary magnesium intake was 268 milligrams, with a range of 50 to 1138 mg.
During 30 years of follow-up, 1431 cases of coronary heart disease were identified.
Within 15 years of the first dietary assessment, the rate of heart disease was significantly lower in those with the highest daily magnesium intake (340 mg or more) compared with those with the lowest intake (186 mg or less).
The researchers calculate that the rate of heart disease was the equivalent of 4 cases per 1000 people per year for those in the high magnesium group, versus 7 cases among those with the lowest intake.
Commenting on the results, Abbott told Reuters Health that "although I believe that they are provocative, further work needs to be undertaken to explore the value of magnesium supplementation. Our findings, however, are consistent with current guidelines for the intake of magnesium--along with the usual recommendations for exercise and a healthy diet. There is no magic bullet here."
However, he added, "Whether increases in dietary magnesium intake can actually alter the future risk of disease, warrants further study."
SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, September 2003.