Taking magnesium can have a lot of health benefits, but research suggests that it could have a big impact on helping control blood pressure.
Though magnesium is rarely talked about, the truth is that many people in the U.S. are deficient in this important mineral because magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts and leafy greens, are simply not eaten very commonly in many people’s diets. It’s recommended that women get 320 mg of magnesium each day and men get 420 mg, but many won’t reach those targets unless they take a supplement.
Magnesium has wide-ranging health benefits; it can help with blood sugar levels, muscle pain, and digestive health, to name a few. However, one of magnesium’s biggest health benefits is that it can help control and lower high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) and reduce the risk of heart disease.
It can be very beneficial to take magnesium for high blood pressure during labor, stressful events, or health problems.
Study Shows Link between Magnesium and Blood Pressure
A number of studies have found that magnesium can have a big effect on blood pressure. In one study, 155 people were given either 300 mg of elemental magnesium or a placebo for a total of 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, it initially appeared that the magnesium had no notable effect on blood pressure levels, but when researchers focused on the people with hypertension, they found that magnesium significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. For people who already had normal blood pressure levels, there were no significant effects.
Other studies have found similar results. A meta-analysis of the available research on magnesium and blood pressure found that taking 370 mg of magnesium daily could lower systolic blood pressure by three to four points and diastolic blood pressure by two to three points.
For someone who has slightly high blood pressure, magnesium supplements could help them return back to the normal range, and for people with significantly elevated blood pressure, taking magnesium could be an important part of their treatment.
How Magnesium Can Help Keep Blood Pressure Under Control
Research shows that there may be some surprisingly similar effects between magnesium and high blood pressure medication. Why would a mineral like magnesium have such a big effect on our blood pressure and heart health?
One of the main reasons is something called vasodilation. When blood vessels are tight or narrow, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and push it through the vessels, resulting in high blood pressure. Vasodilators loosen and widen blood vessels, which increases blood flow and helps the heart rest.
Magnesium is used by the body to create a strong vasodilator called prostaglandin E1. However, magnesium also has blood pressure benefits due to its ability to regulate other minerals in cells. If you’re asking yourself what minerals can cause high blood pressure, the answer is that there are several possible suspects: potassium, calcium, and sodium, for example, can all have an impact on blood pressure. When these minerals are imbalanced, blood pressure can rise, but magnesium set them straight.
How to Recognize Your Lack of Magnesium Intake
It’s been estimated that up to 80% of people in the U.S. are not getting their daily recommended amount of magnesium. Many diets don’t include it and it’s not a common supplement. It’s also difficult to determine if you are magnesium deficient because there’s no adequate test.
The easiest way to tell if you are low in magnesium is by seeing if you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency, including fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and lost appetite. More serious symptoms include seizures, numbness, cramps, and heart spasms. If you experience these more serious symptoms, you should see a doctor.
Natural Ways to Increase Your Magnesium Levels
The easiest way to boost your magnesium level is to take a supplement. There are many forms of magnesium, several of which are particularly good to take in supplemental form. Taking supplemental magnesium citrate for high blood pressure is recommended.
You may also see benefit from taking magnesium oxide for high blood pressure. As well, magnesium malate chelate is readily absorbed by your body, making it one of the more effective supplements to take.
However, you don’t need supplements to get magnesium. There are plenty of foods which contain magnesium and which can help you get your daily recommended amount, such as dark, leafy greens including kale, spinach, and collard greens. Mixing these into salads, smoothies, omelets, and other meals can give you the magnesium you need.
Seeds and nuts also contain a high amount of magnesium. In particular, half of a cup of pumpkin seeds gives you almost all of the magnesium that you need for the day. Other good choices include almonds, cashews, pecans, and sunflower seeds.
Finally, while they may not have as much magnesium as leafy greens, seeds, or nuts, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can help you get to the daily recommended amount. Avocados contain magnesium, as do bananas. Figs are another magnesium-rich fruit.
Eating these foods can help you lower high blood pressure, especially in those specific times when you need it most; for example, eating magnesium for high blood pressure in pregnancy or times of stress can help reduce symptoms.
Other Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
While diet and supplements are one way to lower your blood pressure, there are actually many other blood pressure natural treatments that can be used to improve your health. While blood pressure medications are available, they can come with a wide range of side effects. These following natural treatments can lower blood pressure and also provide other health benefits.
1. Diet: You already know that eating magnesium-rich foods can lower blood pressure, but did you know that certain foods can also cause high blood pressure? Both sugars and grains raise your insulin levels, which leads to spikes in blood pressure.
Avoiding candy, baked goods, potatoes, pasta, and rice can help keep your blood pressure under control. Even whole-grain bread can cause problems, so minimize the amount you’re eating.
2. Exercise: One of the oldest and most effective ways to reduce blood pressure is by doing regular exercise. Aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, and swimming, is particularly good for bringing down blood pressure. Strength training can also have positive benefits.
3. Meditation: One of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure is stress. When we are stressed out, blood pressure can skyrocket. Using stress-reducing techniques such as meditation can bring blood pressure back under control. Other techniques, such as prayer, certain therapy methods, and even listening to music can help keep your blood pressure low.
4. Vitamin D: Magnesium isn’t the only nutrient that has a big effect on blood pressure levels. Research has shown that improving your vitamin D levels can also help normalize blood pressure. Particularly in the Northern states, people may have vitamin D deficiencies that can negatively affect blood pressure levels. If you aren’t getting enough sunlight, take a vitamin D supplement.
You don’t hear about magnesium very often, but there’s no doubt that this important mineral has many benefits in the body. The majority of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, so it’s crucial to add magnesium-rich foods and take a supplement, if necessary. So take advantage of the benefits of magnesium and improve your health today!
Sources for Today’s Article:
Harding, A., “10 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure,” Health web site; http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20488689,00.html, last accessed March 9, 2016.
Nelson, L., “High Blood Pressure,” HealthCentral web site, November 17, 2008; http://www.healthcentral.com/high-blood-pressure/c/63485/48705/blood/, last accessed March 9, 2016.
Sygo, J., “Under Pressure: Magnesium May Be the Dietary Magic Bullet for Hypertension,” National Post web site, February 21, 2012; http://news.nationalpost.com/health/under-pressure-magnesium-may-be-the-dietary-magic-bullet-for-hypertension, last accessed March 9, 2016.