Increased Magnesium May Decrease Inflammation
The stress caused by insomnia is known to contribute to chronic inflammation, an important underlying cause of heart disease. A new study found that people with sleep difficulties are more likely to have signs of chronic inflammation if their diets are low in magnesium, and that supplementing with magnesium can reduce these signs.
The study, published in Magnesium Research, included 100 people over age 50 who reported that their sleep quality was poor. After completing a diet questionnaire and going through some baseline tests, half of the participants were given 320 mg of magnesium (in the form of magnesium citrate) per day and the other half were given placebo for seven weeks.
Low magnesium linked to inflammation
The experiment revealed several findings:
- Fewer than half of the people in the study were getting enough dietary magnesium to meet the estimated average requirement (the amount estimated to meet the needs of 50% of people), and more than one-third had low magnesium levels in their blood.
- People with low-magnesium diets had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that is closely correlated with cardiac risk.
- A low magnesium diet was also associated with a higher body mass index, a number based on height and weight that is used to diagnose overweight and obesity. Scientists have found a close relationship between obesity and inflammation.
- CRP levels decreased in people in the magnesium group whose CRP levels were high at the beginning of the study, but increased in those in the placebo group.
“The findings show that many individuals have a low magnesium status associated with increased chronic inflammatory stress that could be alleviated by increased magnesium intake,” the study’s authors said.
Making sure you maintain magnesium levels
A modern Western diet, with its emphasis on fast and highly refined foods, doesn’t supply much magnesium. A recent report from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) found that 60% of Americans were not getting the estimated average requirement, which is 350 mg per day for men over age 30 and 265 mg per day for women over age 30. To increase your dietary magnesium:
- Have an ounce of almonds or cashews every day. This will add about 75 mg of magnesium to your daily intake. Better still, try an ounce of pumpkin seeds, which have twice as much magnesium.
- Add a half-cup of cooked spinach. Best known for its iron content, spinach has 75 mg of magnesium as well. Swiss chard has a similar amount.
- Switch to quinoa, instead of rice or pasta. A half-cup of cooked quinoa has about 90 mg of magnesium.
- Replace refined foods. In general, eating more foods with whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, and green vegetables—the richest sources of magnesium—will boost your intake of magnesium and other vitamins and minerals.
- Consider supplementing. A magnesium supplement or a multivitamin with magnesium can help ensure that you get enough each day.
(Magnes Res 2010;23:158–68)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.