The recent death of actress Carrie Fisher came as a shock to everyone. She had a cardiac arrest while on an airline flight, never regained consciousness and died a few days later. It was recently reported that it’s possible her fatal heart attack was caused by a magnesium deficiency. While this is only speculative regarding Carrie Fisher’s health, it is well known that a magnesium deficiency can lead to a heart attack and sudden death, yet you normally won’t hear about this in the news.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. You cannot possibly survive without enough magnesium, and many people are deficient in magnesium today. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein synthesis. One of the most important jobs magnesium keeps is that of regulating healthy blood pressure levels, which is key for optimal cardiovascular health.
How Low Magnesium Contributes to Heart Disease
Your heart can’t function properly without magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can cause high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death. (1)
Elevated C-reactive protein levels indicate inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease. Research indicates that dietary magnesium intake is significantly and inversely associated with serum C-reactive protein levels. Studies also showed a beneficial effect of magnesium on C-reactive protein levels. The potential beneficial effect of magnesium intake on chronic diseases may be, at least in part, explained by inhibiting inflammation.(2)
Research shows that low magnesium was independently associated with higher prevalence not only of hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus, but also to coronary artery calcification, which is a marker of atherosclerosis and a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Subjects with the highest magnesium had 48 % lower odds of hypertension, 69 % lower odds of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and 42 % lower odds of coronary artery calcification score compared to those with the lowest magnesium. The research also showed that an increase in magnesium was independently associated with 16 % lower coronary artery calcification. (3)
Optimal tissue levels of magnesium are essential to the structure and function of the heart, and a deficiency can contribute to sudden cardiac death. Subjects dying suddenly with ischemic heart disease (which causes narrowing of coronary arteries, leading to inadequate blood supply to the heart) had significantly lower levels of myocardial tissue magnesium and potassium than the controls. Three men with angina (chest pain) also had the lowest magnesium levels. (4)
Magnesium Deficiency Causes Disease
Magnesium deficiencies can severely interfere with nerve and muscle impulses, which can be considered to be the root cause to many cardiovascular problems, such as arrhythmia, hypertension and sudden cardiac arrest. Deficiency states result in increased insulin resistance, as well as increased smooth muscle and platelet reactivity. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to correlate with a number of chronic cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hyperlipidemia (too many fats in the blood).(5)
Factors that contribute to magnesium deficiency are poor diet, exercise, stress, air pollution, medications, caffeine, and alcohol. Due to soil depletion and food processing, magnesium deficiency is common today. The magnesium content in vegetables has declined from 25% to 85%. Grain refining processes for bread and pasta remove 80-95% of total magnesium. It is estimated that nearly 55% of American adults are magnesium deficient. (6)
Signs and Symptoms of Low Magnesium
Irregular or rapid heartbeat
High blood pressure
Loss of appetite
How to Test for Magnesium Deficiency
It is possible to test for a magnesium deficiency and our doctors recommend obtaining the red blood cell magnesium level. It may be listed by the lab as RBC Mg or Mg RBC. A level of 6 or more is optimal.
Foods rich in magnesium are:
Brussels sprouts Kale
Swiss chard Turnip greens
Beet greens Collard greens
Bok choy Romaine lettuce
Seeds and nuts – pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are the highest in magnesium
Herbs and spices – coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves
Fruits and berries – papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon
Magnesium supplements are a safe and highly effective way to increase your magnesium levels. While each form of magnesium serves its own purpose, after much research, the two most superior forms of magnesium are magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate, and each for their own reason.
• Magnesium citrate is one of the forms with the highest bioavailability, at 90%, which means that it is easily assimilated by the digestive system and used for maximum health benefits. In addition to offering heart health benefits and aiding in optimal nerve and muscle function, magnesium citrate is commonly used to help induce a bowel movement, encourage bowel regularity and has been studied for its ability to reduce the chances of developing kidney stones. Magnesium citrate is available in tablet form, however, is also offered in a liquid form.
• Magnesium glycinate offers the same heart, nerve and muscle health benefits of magnesium citrate, however, for those who are sensitive to magnesium citrate and its bowel regularity properties, magnesium glycinate is a better solution.
While most consider magnesium in pill form only, there are other forms of magnesium that are available and offer different health benefits.
• Transdermal Magnesium is a topical magnesium gel that is used externally, versus being ingested orally. Rubbed directly on the affected area, transdermal magnesium can offer almost immediate relief for many symptoms, such as dry skin, muscle aches and cramps, migraine headaches, tension and stress.
Take care of your heart today and make sure you are getting enough magnesium. It’s a simple solution that can go a long way for your health.