Magnesium deficiency and sudden death
Over the past three decades, a variety of epidemiologic, autopsy, clinical, and animal studies have suggested an association between magnesium (Mg) deficiency and sudden death. This association may have far-reaching implications, because sudden death continues to be a major cause of cardiovascular mortality in the United States and accounts for over 300,000 deaths per year. Early studies showed an inverse relationship between drinking water content and cardiovascular disease incidence, but much of this relationship was subsequently shown to be the result of an association between water hardness and sudden death. A number of water-borne minerals were examined as potential cardiotoxic or cardioprotective factors, and over the past few decades a consensus has emerged that low Mg content in drinking water is associated with high rates of sudden death.
After potassium, Mg is the most common intracellular cation. It is an important component in a variety of biologic processes, and it is critical for the actions of many enzymes. Magnesium is distributed throughout the body as follows: approximately two thirds is located in bone, close to one third is intracellular, and the rest is extracellular. A 70 kg adult contains about 2000 mEq of Mg (1 mEq = 0.5 mmol = 12 mg), and normal serum values vary between 1.5 and 2.5 mEq/L.
Because the blood contains less than 1% of total body Mg stores, serum Mg is poorly reflective of whole body levels. However, although normal serum levels may be seen in the setting of Mg deficiency, if serum levels are low, magnesium deficiency is usually present. Sophisticated means have been developed to assess total body Mg stores, but these techniques are not commonly available, and they have been used in very few studies.
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Effect of magnesium in heart attack survivors
If magnesium is administered intravenously during the acute phase of a heart attack, both the risk of death and the incidence of serious arrhythmias decrease significantly. These beneficial short-term effects prompted researchers from two Danish hospitals to investigate the long-term effects of magnesium supplementation in heart attack survivors.
In a double-blind, parallel group study, 468 survivors of an acute myocardial infarction were randomly assigned to receive oral treatment with 15 mmol magnesium hydroxide or placebo daily for one year. The dose was equal to the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Outcome measures were recurrence of myocardial infarction, sudden death, and coronary bypass surgery within one year.
There was no significant difference between the treatment and placebo groups in the incidence of any of the three individual outcome events. However, when the events were combined, certain analyses indicated that magnesium treatment might be associated with an increase in risk.
The authors conclude that long-term magnesium supplementation, at the dose tested, has no beneficial effect in survivors of myocardial infarction. Since there was no indication of benefit and some suggestion of a possible adverse effect, the authors do not recommend magnesium treatment for patients of this type.
Magnesium Maximizes Heart Health
We now know that magnesium is a vital element in many body systems, especially those involving enzymes; it is, in fact, an essential co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems, especially those involved in reactions that require phosphates for energy. It is also necessary for basic physiologic processes such as the function of DNA, the transmission of nerve impulses and the contraction of skeletal and heart muscle. Since magnesium helps maintain the integrity and strength of the skeleton, deficits are accompanied by a variety of structural and functional disturbances.
Magnesium is ubiquitous in its distribution throughout the body. It is second only to potassium as the most abundant positive ion within the cell and is present to some degree in all organs and tissues. Magnesium must be balanced with calcium, sodium and potassium for the proper regulation of nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 350 milligrams (mg) for men and 300 mg for women. This recommendation increases to 450 mg during pregnancy and lactation. These amounts appear to be adequate for normal individuals but may be inadequate for people on restrictive diets or those with serious defects in the intestinal absorption of magnesium or in its reabsorption by the kidney. The level of magnesium in the blood can be readily measured. The correlation between blood levels and the more important tissue levels, however, is not consistent, and a false impression of body magnesium content may be obtained by relying only on blood levels.
The average mixed American diet supplies about 120 mg of magnesium per 1,000 calories. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good sources of the mineral, as are dry beans and peas, soybeans, nuts and whole grains. High losses of magnesium occur in the refinement of foods, and some losses result when cooking water is discarded.
Magnesium deficiency is more common than you migh expect; surveys indicate that approximately 10 percent of "normal" individuals have less than normal blood levels of magnesium. E.B. Flink, author of "Magnesium Deficiency in Human Subjects: A Personal Historical Perspective," has listed numerous causes of magnesium deficiency. He classifies them into nutritional causes (dietary insufficiency, alcoholism); intestinal causes (diarrhea, malabsorption); excess loss of magnesium through the kidneys (due to disease or the influence of drugs, especially diuretics); endocrine and metabolism causes (hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, excessive lactation, high levels of serum calcium); and genetic and neonatal causes.
Clinically, magnesium deficiency may be present in a variety of ways. Symptoms related to the central nervous system are the most obvious but require a relatively severe deficiency before they make themselves known. When present, they may include personality changes, muscle spasms, tremors, numbness and tingling and in extreme instances, convulsions and delirium.
Recent evidence suggests that most common manifestations of hypomagnesemia involve the cardiovascular system. They are, however, almost always attributed to existent disease of the heart or to complications related to potassium deficiency. Hypomagnesemia may occur secondary to increased urinary loss of magnesium associated with the use of diuretics. A decrease in the heart muscle content of magnesium may occur secondary to coronary artery disease and heart attacks due to coronary thrombosis. Magnesium appears to be essential for the maintenance of the functional integrity of the heart muscle and magnesium deficiencies have been linked to abnormal heart rhythms and to sudden death. Supplemental magnesium has been shown to be effective in preventing abnormalities in heart rhythm that are associated with heart attacks and digitalis intoxication. Evidence shows that magnesium also helps maintain the health of arterial walls and that a deficiency of the mineral may predispose to the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension.
The absorption of orally administered magnesium is unpredictable, but 45 percent is the usual estimate. Both magnesium hydroxide and magnesium oxide are capable of raising serum magnesium levels when administered orally alone or as food supplementation.
Magnesium and High Blood Pressure - Examples of how Magnesium Affects Blood Pressure
Syndrome X is a complication of several symptoms all related to one another. Magnesium is essential for calcium and potassium assimilation. Muscles in the arterial walls will contract If the calcium level within the cell is too high, whereas magnesium causes these muscles to dilate. Doctors call it "Nature's Calcium blocker" because it does the same job that Calcium channel antagonists do, modulate vascular tone. It also stimulates nitric oxide, a mechanism at work when we exercise, helping to relax and dilate blood vessels.
High levels of calcium but low levels of magnesium can cause persons to become obese especially concentrating most of the weight gain around the stomach. These people are highly likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and insulin secretion, known factors contributing to heart attack.
Magnesium and High Blood Pressure
Magnesium is missing or almost missing from bottled water which health-conscious people are habitually drinking to avoid the risk of contaminants such as heavy metals and chlorine. At the most you will only find about 30% of magnesium RDA in bottled water, making it a less than adequate source. The question is, from where do we get the other 70%.
There are a few food sources, like pumpkin seed, soy beans, oat bran or spinach, however it can be rather tiring and frustrating having to continuously work out which minerals and how much each food item contains. Apart from that, as I noted previously, the soils are depleted of these vital nutrients, so the chances of getting enough from these foods will vary depending where the produce is coming from.
A wise and easier choice would be to supplement the diet with a balanced mineral, trace mineral and vitamin solution, because although there is an abundance of good quality potassium, calcium, vitamin d, and magnesium supplements on the market, caution must be exercised when deciding how much to take of each one in conjunction to the effect on the others. And remember, they have to be easily absorbed into the intestines to bring maximum benefits.
Whether you suffer from cardiovascular disease, or desire to stay healthy and guard against these death dealing illnesses, give your body all the nutrients it needs to work efficiently. This rule of nature not only applies to magnesium and high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease or heart disease but, as Linus Paulus said, "....every sickness, every disease and every ailment...."