It’s time, once again, to sing the praises of magnesium. The good news – you won’t have to actually hear me sing. Thank your lucky stars. The truly good news is that an adequate intake of magnesium may help protect you from a chronic condition actually a syndrome made up of several symptoms that can be debilitating to good health in a variety of ways.
Metabolic syndrome: The X factor
Last year, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, affiliated to Harvard Medical School, published a revealing magnesium study in the journal Diabetes Care. Using dietary and medical data collected from more than 11,000 women over the age of 45 who participated in a women’s health study, researchers found that women with the highest magnesium intake had a 27 per cent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared to women who had the lowest intake of the mineral.
Metabolic syndrome (often referred to as metabolic syndrome X, or just MSX) is a set of symptoms that creates a high risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Core symptoms include:
- Excessive abdominal fat
- Elevated blood pressure (130/85 or higher)
- Low HDL cholesterol level (Less than 1.25 in women, less than 1 in men)
- Elevated Triglyceride level
- Elevated C-reactive protein level
- Fasting glucose level that indicates insulin resistance/glucose intolerance
Three or more of these symptoms are all that’s required to diagnose metabolic syndrome.
Unfortunately, doctors often treat the symptoms of MSX individually instead of addressing the syndrome as a whole. As Ive noted in previous e-Alerts, many MSX patients respond well to a regimen that includes regular exercise, supplements of key nutrients such as
omega-3 fatty acids, and a reduction of high-glycaemic foods.
Metabolic syndrome: The whole AND the parts
The most recent MSX research provides an excellent follow-up to last years Brigham and Women’s study.
The new study comes from Northwestern University in Chicago where researchers used data from the The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Medical and dietary records for more than 4,600 healthy subjects, aged 18 to 30, were followed for 15 years.
At the end of the study period, just over 600 cases of metabolic syndrome were identified. As in the Brigham and Women’s research, the highest intake of magnesium was linked with a significantly lower risk of MSX. When gender and race subgroups were individually assessed, the link was just as strong.
Lead author of the study, Dr Ka He, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern, told HealthDay News that the study results reveal something new in the association between magnesium and MSX. Dr He notes that his study shows that higher magnesium intake is linked with a reduced risk of each individual component of the metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome: Count the ways
Previously, we told you about some of the key benefits of magnesium intake, including these three:
- Magnesium is good for the heart. Studies have shown that magnesium helps heart muscles relax, reduces blood pressure, and helps control homocysteine and C- reactive protein levels.
- Magnesium is good for the brain. Conditions that have been associated with a magnesium deficiency include reduced cognitive function, depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder.
- Magnesium is good for bones. Research indicates that magnesium increases bone density in postmenopausal women.
Magnesium is naturally present in green leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, but usually only in small amounts so you’d need to eat a wide variety of these foods regularly to get all the magnesium you need.
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Magnesium Intake, C-Reactive Protein, and the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged and Older U.S. Women Diabetes Care, Vol. 28, No. 6, June 2005, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Magnesium Intake and Incidence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Young Adults Circulation, Vol. 113, No. 13, 4/4/06, circ.ahajournals.org
Diet Rich in Magnesium Good for Health HealthDay News, 3/27/06, nlm.nih.gov