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This Mineral May Cut Stroke, Hypertension, and Diabetes Risk

Low blood levels of magnesium may increase stroke risk by 25%, according to the findings of a large study published in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies.  It contributes to a number of vital biochemical reactions which are essential for everything from maintaining normal muscle and nerve function to keeping our heart rhythm steady and supporting a healthy immune system.

Between 1987 and 1989, 14,221 men and women aged 45-64 took part in the first examination of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study cohort.  The participants were then followed for 15 years and 577 cases of ischemic stroke were documented.

The researchers compared individuals with magnesium blood levels of 1.6, 1.7, and 1.8 meg/l to those with 1.5 meg/l and found a 22%, 30%, and 25 % reduction in stroke, respectively.

The researchers note that the lower stroke risk is most likely due to the fact that magnesium has been shown to lower blood pressure and diabetes risk.

This hypothesis is based on the fact that after the results were adjusted for hypertension and diabetes, the researchers found that the link between magnesium levels and stroke became non-significant.

These findings support a recent meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies published in the August, 2007 issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine. This analysis found that for every 100 milligram increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing type-2 diabetes decreased by 15%.

The researchers note that further research is necessary in order to begin recommending magnesium supplements for prevention of type-2 diabetes and hypertension. They were also quick to note that eating more magnesium rich foods "may be prudent," particularly for those at high risk of developing diabetes.

Many different foods contain magnesium including green vegetables like spinach, as well as almonds, cashews, soy beans and halibut.

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