4 June 2013

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire have found that magnesium supplements may offer small but clinically significant reductions in blood pressure. In a paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers also discovered that the size of the effect increased in line with increased dosage.

Cardiovascular diseases cause almost fifty per cent of deaths in Europe and contribute significantly to escalating healthcare costs. Elevated blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for mortality from cardiovascular and renal disease. Causes of hypertension include (but are not limited to) smoking, sedentary lifestyle, a diet high in sodium and an inadequate intake of other minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

“Until now, there’s been inconclusive evidence regarding the effect of magnesium supplements on blood pressure,” said Lindsy Kass, Senior Lecturer and registered nutritionist at the University of Hertfordshire. “So we conducted a meta-analysis by analysing data from twenty-two trials involving 1,173 people to assess the effect of magnesium on blood pressure.”

In the trials, the magnesium supplementation doses ranged from 120 to 973 mg with between 3 to 24 weeks of follow-up. Although not all individual trials showed significance in blood pressure reduction, by combining the trials, the overall data indicated that magnesium supplementation reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. With the best results observed at the higher dosages.

“The clinical significance in the reductions found from this meta-analysis may be important in helping to prevent hypertension and associated risks around cardiovascular disease,” said Lindsy. “And is worthy of future trials using solid methodology.”

The full research papers can be viewed online at the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and will be available in the July print issue.