If you have high blood pressure, your MD has probably discussed with you sodium, potassium, and calcium as part of your treatment plan; however, the role of magnesium is often overlooked.
Magnesium is a critical player in maintaining normal blood pressure levels, as well as muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, bone health, and immune system maintenance.
How Magnesium Regulates Blood Pressure
Magnesium is used in the production of prostaglandin E1, which is a powerful vasodilator. Typically, blood pressure rises as blood vessels harden and narrow, which causes the heart to exert increased force to circulate blood to body tissues. A vasodilator causes your blood vessels to relax and widen, allowing for easier blood flow and results in a lower blood pressure.
Magnesium also regulates the level of sodium, potassium, and calcium within cells. Sodium and potassium work together to maintain normal blood pressure levels and must be properly balanced. Too much sodium with too little potassium leads to high blood pressure, while the opposite – too little sodium with too much potassium – can result in low blood pressure. As far as calcium, individuals with adequate calcium levels tend to have lower blood pressures.
Research has shown an inverse relationship between magnesium and blood pressure. In other words, individuals with a high magnesium intake, typically have a low blood pressure. I’m not referring to supplements, but actual magnesium rich foods that provide 500-1000 mg of magnesium daily.
Supplemental magnesium of ~500 mg can effectively lower blood pressure. Some studies have found magnesium supplements to reduce systolic blood pressure 2.7 mm Hg and diastolic 3.4 mm Hg.
Magnesium is readily available in foods, such as peas, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lima beans, squash, broccoli, spinach, and seafood. Assess your diet for sources of magnesium and make adjustments to maximize your dietary intake of this mineral, and then determine if a magnesium supplement is needed. Magnesium is most effective when calcium and potassium levels are adequate. For the best results, make sure your intake of all three minerals – calcium, potassium, and magnesium – are at ideal levels and follow a low sodium diet.
Always speak with your MD about any supplements you take. Oftentimes, a basic multivitamin will meet your mineral needs without adverse interactions with medications. Steer clear of mega doses!
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All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD