As one of the most essential minerals for life, magnesium plays a key role in critical bodily functions. Its importance to humans is indicated by the fact that it is the second most abundant mineral in cells after only potassium. The body stores about 25 grams of magnesium, a staggering amount for a single mineral, with around 60% of the body’s magnesium found in bone tissue. The remainder is distributed throughout the body in soft tissue, primarily in muscle, including in the heart.
Involved in more than 600 metabolic reactions through the body, magnesium is an essential cofactor for energy production, metabolic function, the synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins, structural support (as in bone tissue), and cellular signaling (including playing a key role in immune function).
Improving Cardiovascular Health
There are several benefits of magnesium for heart and cardiovascular health. In heart muscle, magnesium counterbalances the effects of calcium, another key mineral, allowing the heart muscle fibers to relax. In this role, it plays a significant role in aiding with normal heart muscle contraction, supporting a normal heartbeat and pulse. Magnesium also supports the activity of the sodium-potassium pump. With low levels of magnesium, the function of the sodium-potassium pump is limited. This pump helps maintain the osmotic equilibrium between cells, a key to generating the electrical impulses of the heart.
As a key cofactor for energy metabolism, magnesium supports the energy-intensive cardiac cells, allowing them to function properly. By participating in the production of ATP, magnesium ensures that highly active tissues and cells throughout the body have the energy they need to maintain metabolism.
Magnesium further supports the health and function of the arteries and blood vessels. Circulatory system function is dependent on the pliability and flexibility of the endothelium that lines the arteries. When the endothelium is functioning properly and is healthy, it allows blood to flow freely and plays an essential role in regulating blood pressure. When endothelial dysfunction occurs, the arteries are less flexible, becoming rigid. This leads to high blood pressure when the arteries can’t properly react to adjust the pressure that the flow of blood has on the walls of the endothelium. Having sufficient magnesium allows these blood vessels to function at their peak.
Another benefit of magnesium is that it keeps inflammation in check. Several studies have found that inflammation is elevated in individuals with poor heart health. Magnesium has been shown to lower a key marker of the body’s inflammation, called C-reactive protein (CRP). Research indicates that when sufficient magnesium is present, CRP levels (and thus inflammation levels in the body) remain at bay.
These are just a few of the health benefits of magnesium for cardiovascular function.
Benefits of Magnesium Supplementation
Since we often fail to consume enough magnesium-rich foods in our diet, magnesium supplementation is a convenient way to boost the body’s stores and ensure we are getting enough. Epidemiological data suggests that 50% of adults in the US are getting less than the RDA for magnesium on a daily basis. This also fails to account for those who need more magnesium than the RDA, specifically those at risk for heart and metabolic disorders and diseases. For this reason alone, supplementing with magnesium is a great way to get this critical mineral.
Clinical trials support the fact that magnesium supplementation reduces the overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It likely does this by addressing key risk factors for developing these conditions. Additional human studies show that magnesium lowers inflammation, keeping the cardiovascular system functioning properly. Magnesium has been found to improve endothelial function, allowing for healthy circulation and blood flow. It also reduces elevated blood pressure levels, while magnesium also may address abnormal blood sugar levels by bringing them into balance. This, coupled with magnesium’s role in heart muscle function and energy generation, make magnesium an essential component of any heart health and wellness supplementation regimen.
However, getting the most out of your magnesium supplement is essential. First and foremost, ensuring the form of magnesium you take is absorbed well is crucial. While there are several forms that are adequately absorbed, a good source is magnesium malate. By taking malic acid along with magnesium, you are providing the body another key intermediate for energy production, as malic acid is used in the Krebs cycle for the generation of cellular energy in the form of ATP.
Also keep in mind two essential nutrients that partner with magnesium to benefit the heart and are also deficient in large swaths of the population. These are vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. Vitamin D3 is the preferred form of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, reduces blood pressure levels, and supports balanced metabolic function. Vitamin K2 is a unique form of vitamin K that plays a critical role in endothelial health by activating calcium transport proteins. This allows calcium to be moved from the arteries, where it causes damage, to the bones, where it belongs. In doing so, vitamin K2 ensures the arteries are clear and flexible, which is needed for healthy circulatory system function. These three nutrients act synergistically to support each other’s benefits. Together, vitamin D3, K2, and Magnesium are three key pillars for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. To ensure the highest level of heart support, take the three in combination.
Magnesium is a crucial cofactor for heart and cardiovascular health without which the body can’t function. Ensuring that you consume adequate amounts along with its helpers vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 is a wise step to optimizing the function of your heart for the long-term.
- Houston M. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2011
- de Baaij JH, Hoenderop JG, Bindels RJ. Physiol Rev. 2015 Jan
- Liu M, Dudley SC Jr. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020
- Magnesium. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium