I’ve taken magnesium supplements for several years, ever since convincing trials suggested that people with the highest intakes tend to live the longest. One of the many ways in which magnesium works is by relaxing smooth muscle in blood vessel linings, to lower blood pressure, reduce arterial spasm and protect against heart attack and stroke.
Some researchers were less convinced of its effectiveness, so they analysed data from 34 trials, involving over 2000 people, who took an average dose of 368mg magnesium per day, for between 3 weeks and 6 months.
What did the results show?
Interestingly, only 16 of the 34 trials involved people with clear hypertension – 18 involved people with a normal blood pressure. Overall, taking magnesium supplements reduced blood pressure by an average of 2/1.78 mmHg compared with placebo. Even though this result is statistically significant, it is misleading, as it is skewed by the fact that magnesium supplements did not have any significant effect on blood pressure in people who did not have either hypertension or diabetes.
When only the results from people taking medication to treat hypertension or diabetes were analysed, adding in a magnesium supplement to their treatment lowered their blood pressure by 5.69/2.55 mmHg. A clear association was also found between increasing blood levels of magnesium and the degree of blood pressure reduction which helps to confirm a dose response.
The fact that taking magnesium does not lower a normal blood pressure is reassuring, as it means you can obtain all its other health benefits without fainting if your blood pressure is naturally in the optimum range.
Do you need a magnesium supplement?
Magnesium intakes are often low, with average intakes for men and women not meeting the recommended intake in the UK or the US. Most people would benefit from eating more magnesium-rich foods – dark chocolate coated Brazil nuts are an excellent and tasty source.
If you have high blood pressure (or simply hope to live longer) then a magnesium supplement won’t go amiss. Doses of up to 400mg per day are safe for long-term use as supplements. If you are sensitive to their laxative effect (which is usually seen at higher doses although some are more susceptible than others), then you can rub in a magnesium oil, or add Dead Sea or Epsom salts to your bath to absorb magnesium through your skin. Do this at night, as a magnesium salt bath is extremely relaxing and will promote a deep night’s sleep.
Click here to find out which foods provide magnesium.
Visit MyLowerBloodPressure.com to find out how to control hypertension naturally.
Click here to read my Expert Health Review of the best magnesium supplements.