Purpose of review: This review summarizes the evidence for benefits of magnesium on metabolic abnormalities, inflammatory parameters, and cardiovascular risk factors and related-potential mechanisms. Controversy due to contrasting results in the literature is also discussed.
Recent findings: Increased dietary magnesium intake confers protection against the incidence of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. It ameliorates insulin resistance, serum lipid profiles, and lowers inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and platelet aggregability. Magnesium acts as a mild calcium antagonist on vascular smooth muscle tone, and on postreceptor insulin signaling; it is critically involved in energy metabolism, fatty acid synthesis, glucose utilization, ATPase functions, release of neurotransmitters, and endothelial cell function and secretion. Prospective studies, however, have found only a modest effect for dietary magnesium on incident pathologies. Furthermore, magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism, blood lipid levels, and ischemic heart disease has given inconsistent results.
Summary: There is strong biological plausibility for the direct impact of magnesium intake on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, but in-vivo magnesium deficiency might play only a modest role. Reverse causality, the strong association between magnesium and other beneficial nutrients, or the possibility that people who choose magnesium-rich foods are more health-conscious may be confounding factors.