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Magnesium Intake Associated with Decreased Arterial Calcification

A study published in November 2013 reports that increased magnesium intake is related to lower arterial calcification. Calcification within the arteries is a measure of the burden of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a systemic disease process in which fatty deposits, inflammation, cells and scar tissue build up within the walls of arteries, and is the underlying cause of the majority of clinical cardiovascular events.

Investigators evaluated 2,695 subjects with an average age of 53 years without cardiovascular disease using Multi-Detector Computed Tomography of the heart and abdomen to assess coronary artery and abdominal aortic calcification. The subjects completed food frequency questionnaires to determine magnesium intake as well as calcium, vitamins D, vitamin K, saturated fat, fiber, alcohol and energy intake. The researchers collected additional data including age, sex, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, blood pressure, fasting insulin, total-to-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, use of hormone replacement therapy and menopausal status among women and treatment for high blood pressure and lipids, diabetes or cardiovascular disease prevention.

The researchers determined that a 50 mg per day increment in magnesium intake was associated with 22 percent lower coronary artery calcification and 12 percent lower abdominal aortic calcification. Additionally, the investigators showed that the subjects with the highest magnesium intake had 58 percent lower odds of having any coronary artery calcification and 34 percent lower likelihood of having abdominal aortic calcification compared to the subjects with the lowest magnesium intake. The researchers found that the association was stronger among women than in men.

The investigators stated, “In community-dwelling participants free of cardiovascular disease, self-reported magnesium intake was inversely associated with arterial calcification, which may play a contributing role in magnesium's protective associations in stroke and fatal coronary heart disease.”

Hruby A, et al. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2013 Nov 20. [Epub ahead of print.]