A priest, a rabbi, a reverend, and an imam walk into a bar. Chances are one of these people has high blood pressure, based on current statistics. You thought it was the start of a joke, didn’t you? And, while I intended it to sound like one to get your attention, high blood pressure is no laughing matter.
That’s because with over 70 million people in the United States alone suffering from high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for premature death from heart attack or stroke. Fortunately for most of these people changing their diet to include more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes along with regular exercise can normalize blood pressure.
High blood pressure can also be a symptom of a magnesium deficiency. And, according to a meta-analysis published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, magnesium can help. The researchers assessed the effectiveness of magnesium for high blood pressure and found that the mineral works remarkably well to normalize blood pressure.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is required for life and is responsible for hundreds of bodily functions, including: maintaining strong and healthy muscles, maintaining heart function, building bones and normalizing blood pressure.
Signs of a Possible Magnesium Deficiency
Many nutrition experts estimate that as much as 80 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium, which is likely the result of poor food choices as well as insufficient magnesium in our food supply. Our food supply is nutritionally depleted from industrial farming practices.
Other symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include: back pain, chocolate cravings, depression, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps, nervous tics or twitches, restless legs and painful periods. Of course, it is not necessary to have all of these symptoms to have a magnesium deficiency. The deficiency manifests itself in different ways in different people.
Drugs and Other Substances that Deplete Magnesium
There are many substances that deplete magnesium, contributing to widespread deficiencies. Some of these substances include: antibiotics, diuretics, oral contraceptives, as well as alcohol ingestion. Additionally, many diabetics, bulimics (those suffering from the eating disorder bulimia), and those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease are also at risk for magnesium deficiencies.
Other Benefits of Magnesium
Adequate magnesium intake has been linked to strong bones and teeth; the prevention of osteoporosis; relaxing muscles and maintaining healthy muscular function; treating fibromyalgia; acting as a natural anti-inflammatory in the body; and addressing some of the issues in depression, schizophrenia, and autism—all of which have been linked to low magnesium intake.
Sources of Magnesium
Some of the food sources of magnesium include: alfalfa sprouts, almonds, almond butter, apples, brown rice, celery, dark leafy greens, figs, lemons, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
The study in Hypertension found that 368 mg of magnesium daily was effective for reducing both measures of blood pressure: systolic and diastolic pressure when used for three months. However, because magnesium is essential for health, it is beneficial to continue eating a high magnesium diet or supplementing with the mineral after that. However, some nutritionists feel that the optimum daily intake for magnesium is likely closer to 500 to 750 milligrams daily. Those with kidney failure should be monitored if taking magnesium.
Magnesium Supplementation—What You Need to Know
There are different types of magnesium supplement, the potency of which are determined by the amount of elemental magnesium they contain. I think that magnesium carbonate, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, and magnesium malate are good choices. The latter has been found to be beneficial for those suffering from fibromyalgia. Since magnesium works best with other nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D, they are best taken together. Most supplements include calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio but some people think that the ideal ratio should be 1:1. The jury is still out on the best ratio. I recommend taking magnesium or calcium and magnesium supplements with food for maximum absorption.