Magnesium is one of the most abundant elements inside our cells and crucial for the production of energy and numerous other biochemical reactions. Without it our bodies could not break down glucose or fat, form protein, enzymes, or antioxidants, nor create DNA. Since we cannot make it ourselves, our diet is our only source of magnesium.
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) describes the build-up of calcium deposits on the inner wall of the arteries surrounding the heart. Patients with CAC are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or die.
So what does the research say about Magnesium?
The association between dietary magnesium intake and CAC was the focus of this current article, published in JACC Cardiovascular Imaging. Participants in the Framingham Heart Study – a long-term population study started in 1948 tasked with identifying cardiovascular risk – were asked to quantify their magnesium intake (both diet and supplements). People with a higher magnesium intake had lower levels of CAC. In fact, those with the highest magnesium intake were 50% less likely to have any detectable CAC. This suggests that magnesium is protective against CAC in addition to its anti-inflammatory, blood pressure-lowering and cholesterol-lowering properties.
So what is it about magnesium that makes it such a friend to the body?
Magnesium can help the body's cells fend off stress. Magnesium-deficient cells also are more vulnerable to injury, and patients with heart disease may have a greater need for magnesium. Your cells need a steady supply of magnesium to maintain proper smooth muscle function in your blood vessels. In addition, magnesium supplements can help your body shuttle potassium and sodium, two other essential electrolytes, into and out of cells, maintaining proper balance (homeostasis).
Magnesium deficiencies can lead to muscle weakness and tremors (spasm) and a host of cardiovascular problems ranging from high blood pressure to arrhythmias.