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Magnesium is fast gaining popularity as a mineral that helps to relax tensed, overworked muscles, and manage painful muscle spasms. But did you know that magnesium keeps your heart muscle healthy and well-functioning too?For years, researchers have linked magnesium deficiency with all sorts of heart conditions such as cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), angina, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease and ischemic heart disease.  Surprisingly, the role of magnesium in keeping your heart healthy and lowering the risk of heart disease is not commonly known.
Did you know the left ventricle of the heart has the highest levels of magnesium in the body? It is the heart’s main pumping chamber, responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to tissues throughout the body. Not surprisingly, studies have found a strong link between magnesium deficiency and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), a condition where the muscle wall of the left ventricle thickens and becomes enlarged and may lead to heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest and ischemic stroke. While hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus are the common cardiovascular risk factors, low magnesium level in the blood has been found as an independent predictor of an increase in left ventricular mass. 
Magnesium levels and heart health
A growing body of research suggests that that higher magnesium intake may lower the risk of sudden cardiac death, reduce inflammatory markers in the body and protect against coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.  
One of the most important aspects of why magnesium is good for your heart is the way it keeps a check on calcium. Magnesium facilitates the movement of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is required for the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and maintaining a steady heart rhythm. While calcium helps in muscle contraction, magnesium allows the muscles to relax. A healthy calcium-magnesium balance is, therefore, required to maintain the heart’s pumping action.
As a watchful gatekeeper, magnesium allows calcium to enter the cells and escort it out when the job inside is done – preventing calcium to accumulate in cells and tissues.
Calcium build-up, due to chronically low magnesium levels, is especially detrimental to the health of your arteries, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack. And this effect is not exclusive to arterial well-being. Calcium overload within the cells also cause muscle contractions to last longer than normal, leading to arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), angina pectoris and even heart attack.
Abnormal contractions also cause painful muscle cramps and migraines. When this uncharacteristic calcium build-up occurs in kidneys, bones or intestines, it can cause other health complications such as kidney stones, arthritis, osteoporosis and constipation.
Magnesium affects heart health in a number of other important ways too. Adequate levels of magnesium help:
- Lower inflammation and reduce risk of chronic diseases
- Improve blood flow and lower blood pressure  
- Regulate stress
- Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes  
- Cut down the risk of atherosclerosis
All these conditions are known to raise your risk for heart disease. Since maintaining sufficient levels help lower these risks, higher magnesium intake is likely to protect your heart from the damage.
Magnesium deficiency is fast emerging as common risk factor for most of the heart problems. So, it is baffling why conventional heart disease treatments don’t take this into account, especially when prescribing magnesium could safely prevent as well as manage many heart problems without any serious adverse effects.
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- Xi Zhang, Yufeng Li, Liana C. Del Gobbo, Andrea Rosanoff, Jiawei Wang, Wen Zhang, Yiqing Song. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure. A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. Hypertension.
- DT Dibaba et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure in individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or noncommunicable chronic diseases: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017
- Dibaba DT, Xun P, eta al. Dietary magnesium intake and risk of metabolic syndrome: a meta-analysis. Diabetic Medicine. 2014
- Adela Hruby, James B. Meigs, Christopher J. O’Donnell, Paul F. Jacques, Nicola M. McKeown. Higher magnesium intake reduces risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism, and progression from prediabetes to diabetes in middle-aged Americans. Diabetes Care 2013