Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Cholesterol Levels Robert Rynfield Journal of the American Center for Nutrition, vol. 1, no. 1, 2022/10/14
ABSTRACT

Does Magnesium Lower Cholesterol?

Books like Dr. Carolyn Dean’s “The Magnesium Miracle” have brought magnesium into the forefront of heart health and insulin function discussions, causing many people to ask, “does magnesium lower cholesterol?” Researchers have performed many studies regarding this topic, proving the effectiveness of magnesium intake in reducing the risks of developing metabolic syndrome and associated diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus [1]. 

Magnesium plays a crucial role in many of the body’s enzymatic reactions [1]. One enzyme is HMG-CoA reductase, which the body uses to make cholesterol. A lack of magnesium results in poor regulation of this enzyme, causing an unhealthy buildup of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol. 

Studies show that supplementing magnesium or consuming it in your diet offers the following benefits:

  • Lower fasting glucose and insulin levels
  • Smaller waist circumference
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, good cholesterol) 
  • Decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Lower levels of triglycerides [1]
  • Regulated vascular tone [3]
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) 
  • Lower risk of coronary heart diseases (CHDs) 
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes [2]

Magnesium may not cross the mind of the average person, but the body finds it vitally important for maintaining a good heart and overall health. 

Magnesium deficiency contributes to many conditions, including high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. It may also trigger anxiety, asthma, depression, insomnia, kidney stones, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, and osteoporosis [7]. The importance of getting the proper amount of magnesium cannot be overstated.

How Much Magnesium Does It Take to Lower Cholesterol?

Men and women only get 80% and 70% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDV) of magnesium, and according to doctors, the RDV does not provide a sufficient amount to begin with [4]. Dr. Dean recommends taking 300 mg of magnesium two to three times daily. 

She also recommends consuming magnesium-rich foods on a daily basis. These include:

  • Green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard
  • Nuts, such as almonds and cashews
  • Fish, such as salmon, halibut, and mackerel
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and flaxseed
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa
  • Fruits, such as bananas and avocados
  • Beans and legumes, such as black beans [8]
is whey or plant protein better

Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins lack one or more. Complete vs. incomplete proteins represent the major difference between whey and plant-based protein. Whey proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, whereas plant-based proteins generally do not.

However, the magnesium content in water and soil across the globe continues to decline, making it increasingly difficult to get enough of this critical nutrient through dietary intake alone. Many people would benefit from taking a daily magnesium supplement. 

Doctors also recommend getting plenty of other minerals through diet in order to remain healthy. These include the following:

  • Potassium (potatoes, bananas, and legumes)
  • Calcium (leafy vegetables and dairy products)
  • Phosphorous (Meats, seeds, and legumes)
  • Chloride (tomatoes and celery)
  • Sodium 

The body needs sodium for hydration, but many people get too much by eating a diet rich in processed foods.

Is It OK to Take Magnesium Every Day?

Most healthy adults can benefit from taking magnesium every day at levels above the current RDV. A direct relationship exists between high magnesium levels in the body and a reduction in metabolic syndrome conditions. Metabolic syndrome refers to certain conditions that preclude CVDs and CHDs. These conditions include elevated cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, and hypertension. 

People starting supplementation should build up to the recommended daily dose over time to avoid unpleasant effects like diarrhea. Magnesium may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain medications, so people taking medications are encouraged to speak with their doctors before taking a magnesium supplement.

Who Should Not Take Magnesium?

Although the answer to the question, “does magnesium lower cholesterol?” is yes, certain people should not take magnesium supplements. This list may include anyone who:

  • Suffers from renal failure or another kidney condition
  • Takes ACE-inhibitor medications to treat high blood pressure.
  • Takes bisphosphonates for osteoporosis
  • Is taking certain antibiotics

Your primary care physician is the best resource to determine if you could benefit from magnesium supplementation. Anyone taking the above medications or suffering from an illness should consult their doctor before increasing magnesium intake. 

How Long Does It Take for Magnesium to Lower Cholesterol?

The amount of time it may take to lower LDL levels depends on the individual, but making other dietary changes while taking magnesium may help lower LDL more quickly. For example, a person trying to lower LDL should avoid consuming flour products like bagels, pasta, and bread that isn’t whole grain [5]. Other foods to avoid to help lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels include processed foods, fried foods, and greasy meats. 

While the link between magnesium deficiency and high cholesterol has been established for decades, additional studies remain necessary to determine a general timeline for lowering LDL through magnesium supplementation. 

Magnesium Has Been Shown to Treat Hypertension

Magnesium ions modulate the contractility and tone of smooth muscles, so a magnesium deficiency can cause increased contractile tension in arteries and subsequent conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) [3]. A prospective study analysis found that increased magnesium intake may reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and other conditions related to high blood pressure [2]. 

Many studies have found an inverse relationship between hypertension and magnesium intake, as higher blood pressure is often associated with deficient magnesium. The more intracellular free magnesium present in the body, the lower the blood pressure levels [3,6].

The association between hypertension and low magnesium levels is clear, but doctors continue to call for further study on the relationship between magnesium intake and hypertension due to inconsistent treatment results. 

Conclusion – Magnesium Plays an Important Role in Overall Health and Heart Health

So, does magnesium lower cholesterol? Evidence suggests yes, an inverse relationship exists between magnesium intake and LDL, and this is not the only benefit of supplementing magnesium. This essential nutrient is vital in many body processes, including glucose metabolism, sodium removal through the kidneys, insulin balance, and more. 

People trying to lower their bad cholesterol or reduce the risk of heart disease or diabetes may benefit from increasing their magnesium intake.