Large studies find low magnesium associated with greater risk of PAD, depression


February 26, 2019

Recent studies suggest a beneficial role for greater magnesium intake and higher serum magnesium levels in the prevention of depression and peripheral artery disease (PAD).

A study that included 17,730 participants in the 2007—2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found a lower risk of depression among women who had a higher intake of magnesium. The presence of depression among the subjects was assessed by patient health questionnaires, and magnesium intake was calculated from 24-hour dietary recall. Individuals who were among the top 25% of magnesium consumers had an adjusted risk of depression that was 53% less than those who were among the lowest 25%. Further analysis determined that the risk was significant among women. The research was reported in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

On December 20, 2018, the journal Atherosclerosis reported findings from a study that sought to investigate whether serum magnesium is associated with PAD incidence. The researchers analyzed data from 13,826 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study who did not have PAD (a manifestation of atherosclerosis outside of the coronary arteries) at the time of enrollment. Serum magnesium levels were measured at examinations that occurred from 1987—1989 and 1990—1992. During a median follow-up of 24.4 years, 1,364 men and women were diagnosed with PAD.

An association was observed between increasing serum magnesium levels and a diminishing risk of PAD. Participants whose serum magnesium levels were among the lowest 20% of subjects had an adjusted 30% greater risk of PAD than those whose levels were among the top 20%.

“Previous randomized trials have shown that magnesium supplementation could improve endothelial function, lower blood pressure and reduce atherosclerosis,” noted authors Xiuting Sun and colleagues. “A meta-analysis, which included more than 1 million participants from forty prospective cohort studies, showed that a 100 mg/day increment in magnesium intake was associated with a 22% reduction in the risk of heart failure, a 7% reduction of stroke and a 10% reduction of all-cause mortality.”

“Our findings suggest that low serum magnesium may be a new risk factor of PAD,” they conclude.

These studies contribute to the ever-expanding body of evidence in support of optimal magnesium intake and periodic magnesium blood testing, and they support the inclusion of PAD and depression in the list of conditions benefitted by magnesium.

Apply What You’ve Learned: Magnesium

  • Magnesium intake is insufficient among many individuals. Supplementation is an ideal way to make sure one is obtaining an optimal amount.
  • Having your blood tested for serum magnesium levels can help determine how much magnesium you may need to add to your daily regimen.
  • Being overweight or obese, consuming a high amount of calcium, or consuming a low amount of protein can increase the body’s need for magnesium.1
  • Magnesium is essential for hundreds of the body’s processes, and it also benefits the brain. A type of magnesium known as magnesium-L-threonate has been shown to elevate brain magnesium as well as improve memory and learning in experimental research.2

  • 1. Nielsen FH. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2018 Nov 27.
    2. Slutsky I et al. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.


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