Published on January 17, 2022
The FDA has acknowledged the relationship between magnesium intake and a reduced risk of high blood pressure. What other nutrients can help as well?
- The FDA is acknowledging a relationship between magnesium intake (from both foods and dietary supplements) and a reduced risk of high blood pressure
- Magnesium has been shown to have a strong relationship to cardiovascular health, unfortunately, up to 60% of the US population is estimated to be deficient in magnesium
- Getting enough vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and sunshine exposure have also been shown to benefit cardiovascular health and help reduce the risk for high blood pressure
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new qualified health claim for magnesium in reducing the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). In other words, the FDA is acknowledging a relationship between magnesium intake (from both foods and dietary supplements) and a reduced risk of high blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure is Labeled a “Silent Killer”
According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of the adult population in the United States has high blood pressure, and many of them are unaware that they have it. With no outward symptoms in most cases, it has been labeled a “silent killer” and left untreated, can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other health consequences, leading to premature death.
What is considered high for a blood pressure reading? A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, or the amount of pressure exerted on the artery walls when the heart is beating. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure or the amount of pressure when the heart is at rest.
The stages of high blood pressure begin when the systolic blood pressure is 130 or higher, or the diastolic blood pressure is 80 or higher.
Magnesium has Many Benefits for Cardiovascular Health
Magnesium has been shown to have a strong relationship to cardiovascular health. One previously reviewed study showed how magnesium uses the same pathway as statins to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol to reduce inflammation, clotting, and plaque formation in the arteries. Another study illustrated how magnesium helps regulate the heartbeat by controlling the sodium potassium pump and extending the relaxation period after contraction, which may help lower the risk of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of magnesium supplementation on arterial stiffness found that arterial stiffness was significantly improved in the magnesium group compared to the placebo group after 24 weeks of daily magnesium supplementation (p<0.01).
Adequate intake of magnesium from the diet or supplemental sources is necessary for maintaining cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of cardiac events, even the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, up to 60% of the US population is estimated to be deficient in magnesium. Deficient magnesium levels can be due to insufficient magnesium in the diet, as well as problems with kidney function, alcoholism, and the use of diuretics and proton pump inhibitors, and deficiency can contribute to many other health problems beyond cardiovascular health.
Vitamin D, Omega-3s, and Sunshine can also Help Reduce High Blood Pressure Risk
Studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Using the data participants have provided for the GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute study, we assessed the association between vitamin D level and risk of being diagnosed with high blood pressure among participants aged 50 years and older. The incidence rate among those with vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml (125 nmol/L) or higher was 51% lower than the rate among those with vitamin D levels less than 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) (P=0.02).
Several studies have shown a positive correlation between omega-3s and blood pressure. One such study by Filipovic et al. compared the Omega-3 Index to blood pressure among 2036 healthy, young adults with normal blood pressures and found a significant inverse relationship, where those with the highest Omega-3 Index had the lowest blood pressure. The effect was seen with both systolic and diastolic measurements.
Research also suggests that avoidance or lack of sunshine may be a risk factor for increased blood pressure and death from heart attacks, with one study concluding that avoidance of sunshine resulted in a shorter life expectancy comparable to the shortened life expectancy of smokers! Benefits from increased nitric oxide production include dilated coronary arteries, lowered blood pressure, and reduced risk of angina – a condition characterized by severe chest pain and inadequate blood supply to the heart.
A paper published by Lindqvist et al. summarized findings from an observational, questionnaire-based cohort study of 23,593 women. The authors found that, compared to those with the greatest amount of sun exposure, women with low sun exposure habits had a 41% higher risk of hypertension, and women with moderate sun exposure habits had a 15% higher risk (p<0.001).
Could a Nutrient or Sunshine Deficiency be Affecting Your Cardiovascular Health?
Are you getting enough vitamin D, omega-3s and magnesium through your diet, lifestyle habits, and with supplements? Have you measured your levels lately to make sure? Test your levels today, and adjust as needed to ensure you are getting enough to support healthy cardiovascular function.
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D levels and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Choose which to measure, such as your vitamin D, omega-3s, and essential minerals including magnesium and zinc, by creating your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.
Enroll and test your levels today, learn what steps to take to improve your status of vitamin D (see below) and other nutrients and blood markers, and take action! By enrolling in the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to everyone, you are also gaining knowledge about how you could improve your own health through measuring and tracking your nutrient status, and educating yourself on how to improve it.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)