Magnesium: A Mineral with Many Medical Uses
Magnesium, referred to as Mg on the periodic table of elements,1 is a common component of lightweight metals and is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body.2 Seawater is rich in magnesium.
A number of health problems have been linked with low intakes and blood levels of magnesium, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer.3
Magnesium serves as an essential catalyst and enzyme cofactor for more than 300 necessary bodily functions.43
Magnesium was discovered in 1755 by Dr. Joseph Black.1 The normal range of magnesium is dependent on measurement method. For serum, a range of 1.7–2.2mg/dL is considered normal.5
However, because 99% of the body's total magnesium is intracellular, serum measurement does not provide a true picture. Measurement of red blood cell magnesium concentration (normal range 4.04–6.9mg/dL) more closely reflects the true magnesium load. 5
The mechanism of magnesium action in cardiac arrhythmias, migraines, and asthma appears to be its ability to calm membrane excitability by altering the resting membrane potential.6 Multiple large trials have verified the positive effect of magnesium on vascular disease.
In one meta-analysis of 22 studies and more than 1,100 patients with either normal or elevated blood pressure, participants given magnesium supplementation for an average of 3 months showed reductions in systolic blood pressure of 3–4mmHg and in diastolic blood pressure of 2–3mmHg.7
In another analysis, normal serum magnesium levels correlated with a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 22% lower risk of ischemic heart disease. 8
For migraine management, studies involving both acute treatment with intravenous magnesium and preventive therapy with daily magnesium supplementation have demonstrated efficacy.
However, the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society deemed magnesium to be “probably” effective in the management of migraine headaches.9