Why is it so important to get enough magnesium for the heart?
This multi-tasking mineral may be the most important nutrient for your cardiovascular health. To prevent heart disease and reduce the symptoms, you should make sure you are getting enough magnesium.
In this post, we’ll talk about how magnesium supports heart health in general, the risks of deficiency, specific aspects of heart disease, and how magnesium can help, plus how to know if you’re getting enough.
You’ll also learn to boost your levels with Natural Calm magnesium citrate.
Magnesium for the Heart: How it Works
Magnesium supports the whole cardiovascular system in a number of ways.
It is essential for the functional and structural integrity of the heart’s cells and blood pressure regulation. This multi-tasking mineral works along with potassium to stimulate muscle contractions. Deficiencies in either or both nutrients can result in an irregular heartbeat.
Magnesium also helps to prevent the buildup of cholesterol and calcium on the wall of the artery, which otherwise may lead to blockages or thrombosis (blood clots).
It acts as a healthy, natural blood thinner that helps keep the blood flowing smoothly.
In emergency rooms, magnesium has been used intravenously to treat heart attack or stroke patients and has been found to significantly reduce the incidence of death.
Magnesium Deficiency & Heart Health
When you think about heart disease, most people think of high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat, but few think of magnesium deficiency.
However, research shows that magnesium deficiency may be linked to a number of heart health risk factors including high blood pressure, calcification of soft tissues, and arterial plaque buildup.
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, and author of The Magnesium Miracle says:
“The fact that low levels of magnesium are associated with all the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart arrhythmia, angina, and heart attack can no longer be ignored; the evidence is much too compelling.”
In her book, The Magnesium Factor, Dr. Seelig asserts:
“The most important risk factor for impending heart disease is a low magnesium-to-calcium ratio in the cells. All the usual factors such as high cholesterol, active type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) and hypertension (high blood pressure) can be the result of a low magnesium status.”
Magnesium in the typical western diet is inadequate to meet individual needs, and studies show that average magnesium intakes are insufficient to protect against cardiovascular disease.
Research findings show:
- People living in areas with low magnesium water have rates of heart attack and stroke death higher than people living in areas of high-magnesium water. Consumption of drinking water even moderately high in magnesium can be expected to reduce cardiovascular mortality by 30–35%.
- It has been observed that patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) are likely to be magnesium deficient.
- Patients with coronary artery disease frequently suffer from magnesium deficiency. Low magnesium levels seem to play a role in the formation of coronary artery disease.
- Magnesium deficiency results in damage to the coronary vessels, leading to a marked reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the heart cells.
- The incidence of magnesium deficiency in chronic heart failure has been reported at more than 30%.
Deficiency of magnesium in the diet and abnormalities in magnesium metabolism play important roles in different types of heart diseases such as ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, atherosclerosis, a number of cardiac arrhythmias, and ventricular complications in diabetes.
Magnesium for Arrhythmia & Heart Palpitations
When your heartbeat is disturbed, it’s called an “arrhythmia”.
Some arrhythmias may cause your heart to skip a beat. Others may add a beat occasionally. An arrhythmia may be nothing more than a nuisance, but in other cases, an arrhythmia can be a serious health issue
“Untreated, they can affect your heart’s pumping action, which can lead to dizzy spells, shortness of breath, faintness, loss of consciousness or serious heart problems.” (Better Health Channel)
A heart palpitation is the feeling of your heart racing, thumping, or skipping beats. A heart palpitation can be caused by an arrhythmia.
What is the relationship between low magnesium and arrhythmias or heart palpitations?
Dr. Carolyn Dean explains:
“Magnesium deficiency contributes to abnormal heart rhythms, possibly because magnesium is responsible for maintaining normal potassium and sodium concentrations inside heart muscle cells. A balance (of these electrolytes) allows for normal heart muscle contraction and maintains normal heartbeat.” (The Magnesium Miracle, p. 113)
Low magnesium intake or an outright magnesium deficiency has been shown to increase irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias.
Can magnesium treat arrhythmias?
An impressive body of research backs the link between magnesium and arrhythmias. Two recent studies suggest that magnesium can, indeed, be used to treat abnormal heart rhythm:
- A review published in 2019 in the journal, Cardiology Research, and Practice, showed that a low magnesium level is associated with atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmia.
- A 2018 research article published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders showed that magnesium could decrease ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias.
If you have an arrhythmia, ask your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium as a Treatment for Heart Failure & More
Magnesium has wide-ranging uses to treat and prevent conditions of the heart:
- As a natural blood-thinner, magnesium is also used to lower instances of strokes. Some studies also indicate that magnesium, if administered soon after a heart attack, could lower the risk of mortality.
- Studies have found magnesium to have significant potential to fight against cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, and atherosclerosis.
- Magnesium also inhibits the action of the enzyme that synthesizes cholesterol, lowering triglycerides and raising high-density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol” levels.
- Magnesium has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and relieve symptoms in roughly 85 percent of mitral valve prolapsed patients.
Oral magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve resting heart function and exercise performance.
Balancing Calcium & Magnesium for Heart Health
Calcium has a reciprocal relationship with magnesium. Put simply, calcium tenses and excites while magnesium relaxes. This tensing-relaxing relationship keeps muscles throughout our bodies working, including the muscle of our heart.
The contractions caused by calcium and the relaxation caused by magnesium together control blood pressure and flow into arteries. Without magnesium, too much calcium in the heart leads to spasms of the muscle.
Calcium needs magnesium to be properly absorbed. Without this action of magnesium, calcium can build up in the arteries and valves. If untreated, this buildup can lead to aortic valve stenosis, a condition that narrows the aortic valve and places strain on the heart.
In vascular medicine, magnesium supplementation relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure by acting as a mild physiological calcium blocker. It works as a natural blood thinner, whereas calcium thickens the blood.
Excess levels of calcium act along with fatty acids and cholesterol cause the formation of plaques in veins and arteries. Magnesium helps prevent calcification and it plays an important role in diverting calcium to the bones, away from arteries.
Magnesium & Cholesterol
What is the relationship between magnesium and cholesterol, that well-known risk factor for heart disease?
First, when we talk about cholesterol, we have to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types.
Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, is harmful because it carries cholesterol into the bloodstream, promoting the buildup of cholesterol plaque on the arterial walls.
High-density lipoprotein, HDL, is considered beneficial to the body. It helps remove cholesterol from blood vessel walls and the blood itself, bringing it to the liver for processing and excretion.
Hypercholesterolemia, or dyslipidemia, is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood, and it is one of the main factors contributing to the development of atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease (1).
According to a recent Canada-wide health survey, 45% of Canadian men and 43% of Canadian women have unhealthy total cholesterol levels.
It should come as no surprise that ‘bad cholesterol’ or LDL is not normally found in natural foods, nor produced in our bodies. It comes from processed foods, fried foods, fast foods. ‘Junk food’ is cluttering our bloodstream and wreaking havoc with our health.
Can magnesium reduce cholesterol?
Studies indicate that high levels of magnesium in the diet could lead to a substantial decrease in blood triglycerides (a heart health risk) and an increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Magnesium acts like a natural statin which helps block the specific enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) in the liver that produces cholesterol. When that enzyme is blocked cholesterol levels are lowered, but when magnesium levels are low, that enzyme cannot do its job.
There is also evidence suggesting a relation between magnesium levels and obesity linked to high cholesterol levels. This mineral may have an antiobesity effect because of the way in which it interacts with fatty acids in the intestine, reducing the digestible energy content (think: calories) of the diet.
Magnesium for Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
High Blood Pressure (HBP) or hypertension is also known as “the silent killer”.
With no discernible symptoms, and the potential to shut down the heart if left untreated, hypertension is a life-threatening condition. 1 in 3 Canadian adults have HBP, yet, sadly, many are unaware until a cardiac episode reveals the story of their heart’s true condition.
Hypertension is measured by the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls as it pumps, known as systolic pressure, and diastolic pressure measured between beats when the heart is at rest. If blood pressure rises and stays consistently high, it causes damage to the heart, blood vessels, and even the kidneys.
There’s a very strong connection between magnesium intake and blood pressure. “Research shows a direct relationship between the amount of magnesium in the diet and the ability to avoid high blood pressure.” Blood pressure goes up as magnesium levels go down. (The Magnesium Miracle, Kindle version pp.2489 – 2490)
Does magnesium lower blood pressure?
Many experts believe that magnesium supplementation should be the first line of defence against hypertension.
However, speak to your doctor about supplementing with magnesium if you are under medical care. Supplements can interact with prescription drugs and magnesium may reduce your requirements for certain heart medications. Again, speak with your healthcare professional.
Magnesium & High Blood Pressure Medications
As Dr. Carolyn Dean explains in The Magnesium Miracle, diuretics are in the first line of treatment for high blood pressure.
The catch is that diuretics deplete the body of magnesium.
Without enough magnesium, we’re more susceptible to tension and spasms of the blood vessels – “a precursor to hypertension; thus the very treatment for hypertension worsens the problem.” (Kindle version, p. 2465).
Maybe you’ve heard that diuretics deplete potassium, and you’ve been careful to replace it in your diet or with supplements. What few people are told is that “replacing potassium doesn’t help patients who are also magnesium-deficient, because the body is unable to deliver potassium to the cells without sufficient magnesium.” (pp. 2465 – 2466)
That’s right: there’s no point in replacing potassium if your magnesium is depleted – and if you’re on diuretics, you’re almost certainly magnesium deficient.
The common side-effects of diuretics mirror those of magnesium deficiency: “weakness, muscle cramps, joint pain, and irregular heartbeat.” (p. 2466)
So, doctors who aren’t aware of the magnesium connection could easily confuse a mineral deficiency for a tough case of high blood pressure – a case that isn’t responding to diuretics.
What happens next?
When diuretics don’t work, Dean explains that the next step is typically to prescribe ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, anti-adrenergic drugs, or vasodilators. Sometimes these drugs are layered so that a patient can be taking multiple different medicines for high blood pressure.
And of course, with each prescription, there are side effects.
Magnesium, on the other hand, is “a natural antihypertensive, muscle relaxant, antianxiety remedy, and sleep aid.” (p. 2482)
You should always speak to your doctor about taking a new supplement if you are under medical care, however, there’s almost never a drawback to taking magnesium. Dr. Dean calls magnesium an “ideal drug” for its safety, inexpensiveness, “wide therapeutic range”, and “little or no tendency toward drug interaction”. (p. 2482)
Magnesium for Arterial Plaque (Clogged Arteries)
Most people associate blocked or clogged arteries with the heart, but an artery can be blocked anywhere in the body:
- Coronary Artery Disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the heart. If left unchecked, it will result in heart attack or stroke. Coronary Artery Disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and the United States.
- Carotid Artery Disease refers to the carotid arteries located along the sides of the neck. These arteries deliver rich nutrients to the brain. Blockages here can lead to stroke.
- Peripheral Artery Disease is when the vessels that carry blood to the legs are restricted. Reduced blood flow to the legs and feet can result in pain and numbness, and at worst, serious infection.
When plaque hardens and permanently narrows the artery walls in any of these three cardiovascular disease states, the condition is called atherosclerosis.
With stable plaque build-up in the heart, you may experience angina – or chest pain – on extreme exertion. Generally, however, there are no symptoms.
Should plaque build-up become unstable – like a bump on an artery wall – it can burst or rupture, permanently damaging the heart muscle and causing a heart attack or myocardial infarction. That’s why it’s important to keep your arteries clear.
Can magnesium help clogged arteries?
Research has drawn a direct link between atherosclerosis and magnesium levels.
Additionally, low plasma concentrations of magnesium are the cause of some inflammation states and atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease.
Magnesium also helps arteries maintain their elasticity, so these arteries are more resilient under pressure.
Magnesium for Stroke Prevention
Strokes are one of the leading causes of mortality in Canada. It is estimated that every seven minutes a Canadian dies of heart disease or stroke, accounting for 7% of all deaths.
An ischemic stroke occurs when clots form in blood vessels and travel to the brain, blocking blood flow to the neuronal tissue. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood vessels break, and blood seeps into the brain tissue.
Studies show that those with higher magnesium intake have a lower risk of stroke.
“The link between magnesium in the diet and stroke risk was strongest for ischemic stroke, which is when a clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain.
Can magnesium reduce the risk of stroke?
Researchers found that the risk for ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke in older people, was reduced by 9% for each additional 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumed each day.
Regularly eating magnesium-rich foods also helped modestly reduce the chances of having any type of stroke. The study found that for every 100 additional milligrams of magnesium per day, people cut their risk of stroke by 8%.”
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium for Heart Health?
Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough magnesium to meet their body’s needs at a cellular level.
There are three reasons for this:
- The amount of magnesium required by the body is greater than people think
- It’s difficult to get sufficient daily magnesium from most modern diets
- Some forms of magnesium just aren’t well-absorbed.
For most of us, supplementing magnesium could help prevent certain risk factors and the development of some cardiovascular conditions.
If you have the risk factors for heart disease, we certainly recommend eating a diet centred on unprocessed plant foods that are high in magnesium. Whole, unrefined plant foods are nature’s medicine, and getting enough is essential or heart health.
You should also minimize magnesium depleting alcohol, caffeine, diuretics, processed foods, and sugars.
Talk to your doctor about whether medications you may be taking are depleting your magnesium.
If you are taking calcium or have a diet high in dairy and calcium-enriched foods, you may need more magnesium.
Even with an ideal diet and lifestyle, it’s possible to not absorb enough magnesium. The body’s ability to absorb magnesium decreases with age, just as the possibility of heart complications increases.
Make sure you’re taking adequate doses of a highly absorbable magnesium supplement if you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
The recommended daily dosage is:
- For men between 19-30, 400mg per day, and 310mg per day for women the same age.
- Men older than that should get 420mg per day and women should get 320mg daily.
You may require more than the recommended daily dose if your body is depleting magnesium faster. Look at your symptoms to find the right balance.
If you are under medical care or taking prescription medication, speak with your healthcare provider about starting any supplement, including magnesium.
The four contraindications to magnesium therapy, according to Dr. Dean, are 1. kidney failure, 2. myasthenia gravis, 3. excessively slow heart rate, and 4. bowel obstruction.
“Stopped heart palpitations within two weeks!”
“I’m a 35 year old male, and once I hit 33 I began suffering from heart palpitations. Sometimes hundreds a day.
Multiple visits to health specialists revealed it was nothing serious, but rather a common condition requiring no medication. Essentially an annoyance.
To me, it was very uncomfortable and disrupted my life in a huge way. It’s very scary feeling your heart ‘skip’ a beat so often. It literally would take my breath away.
A little over a year ago I happened to find an article online that mentioned Magnesium has been found to help this condition in some instances. I purchased your product (Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate), and within 2 weeks I stopped having palpitations. Completely!
It’s now been over a year and I take a teaspoon morning and night. Truly life-changing and I would have never thought the solution would be so simple 🙂 I’m not certain if the cause was stress, and your product has reduced that, or whether I had low magnesium…but I don’t care! I feel great. I’ll be a life-long customer! Sincerely,”
“Lowered my blood pressure to within normal range”
“Natural Calm has lowered my blood pressure from high 165/110 to normal range (130/85) in 4 weeks after nobody else including doctors, specialists, and health professionals could help.”
“Stopped heart and angina attacks, and regulates my heartbeat”
“I have had 4 heart attacks, and also have been suffering weekly from angina attacks (chest pains). 6 months ago I started to take Natural Calm daily. Since, I haven’t had any heart or angina attacks, and my irregular heartbeats have stopped entirely. My energy level is higher, and I sleep much better at night.”
“Heart palpitations reduced immediately”
“My story is rather simple. I always had heart palpitations, dating back to my high school days. Over the years, I would always get them—sometimes they were quite bad.
My MD did not know the cause. I had a battery of tests. The results yielded no new information. They weren’t life threatening but were very uncomfortable and really made my life difficult.
I started taking Natural Calm. The palpitations were reduced immediately. I now no longer have episodes at all. My MD is happy for me and actually wasn’t surprised that magnesium made the difference.
In addition, I really do feel calmer. I also realized that, as an active athlete, I probably needed more magnesium than most people. So Natural Calm is really what I needed.”
“Helps to reduce PVCs”
“Magnesium helps to reduce and almost eliminate heart PVCs (premature ventricular contractions).”
That wraps up our post on magnesium for the heart!
Please share any questions or your story in the comments below, or in a review for Natural Calm magnesium.
And please pass this information on to friends and family! Most Canadians are at risk for heart disease, and most are not getting enough magnesium.
Let your loved ones know how easy it is to reduce the risk with magnesium.
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- Protective role of magnesium in cardiovascular diseases: A review. Sajal Chakraborti, Tapati Chakraborti, Malay Mandal, Amritlal Mandal, Sudip Das, Samardendranath Ghosh. 1, 2002, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Vol. 238.
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- Oral magnesium therapy, exercise heart rate, exercise tolerance, and myocardial function in coronary artery disease patients. R Pokan, P Hofmann, S P von Duvillard, G Smekal, M Wonisch, K Lettner, P Schmid, M Shechter, B Silver, N Bachl. 2006, Br J Sports Med, Vol. 40, pp. 773-778.
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- Calcium Intakes. Seelig, Mildred. 2001, Advances in Magnesium Research: Nutrition and Health, pp. 177-190.
- The high heart health value of drinking-water magnesium. Rosanoff, Andrea. 81, 2013, Medical Hypotheses, pp. 1063-1065.
- Magnesium dietary intake modulates blood lipid levels and atherogenesis. BELLA T. ALTURA, MANFRED BRUST, SHERMAN BLOOM, RANDALL L. BARBOUR, JEROME G. STEMPAK, AND BURTON M. ALTURA. March de 1990, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, Vol. 87, págs. 1840-1844. [PubMed]
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- LACK OF ASSOCIATION BETWEEN SERUM MAGNESIUM AND THE RISKS OF HYPERTENSION AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE. Abigail May Khan, MD, Lisa Sullivan, Ph.D., Elizabeth McCabe, MS, ScM, Daniel Levy, MD, Ramachandran S. Vasan, MD, and Thomas J. Wang, MD. 4, 2010, Am Heart J., Vol. 160, pp. 715-720. [PMC]
- Complementary vascular-protective actions of magnesium and taurine: a rationale for magnesium taurate. McCarty, M.F. 2, Med Hypotheses, Vol. 46, pp. 89-100. [PubMed]
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- To lower your stroke risk, pay attention to this mineral. BECK, LESLIE. January 17, 2012.
- Research Uncovers Low Magnesium Is Key Link to Heart Disease
- Low Magnesium Levels Predictor of Heart Disease
- Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease
- Aortic valve stenosis – Symptoms and causes