CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA. A team of researchers from the University of Virginia, the University of Hawaii, and the Japanese National Institute for Longevity Sciences has found a strong association between a low magnesium intake and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Their study involved 7172 men who were enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program between 1965 and 1968. The men were between the ages of 45 and 68 years and free of heart disease at time of enrollment. All participants provided information about their nutrient intake through a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire administered by a dietician. During 30 years of follow-up 1431 cases of incident CHD (non-fatal myocardial infarction [heart attack], fatal heart attack, sudden cardiac death, and death from congestive heart failure associated with CHD) occurred in the group. The researchers noted that men with a high dietary intake of magnesium (340-1138 mg/day) had half the risk of developing CHD during the first 15 years of the study than did men whose intake was low (50-186 mg/day). The association was only slightly attenuated after adjusting for other nutrients (potassium, calcium, sodium, energy intake, dietary fiber, protein, and saturated fat) and known risk factors for CHD (age, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, body mass index, smoking, alcohol intake, and physical activity). The researchers note that the average daily magnesium intake in the group was only 268 mg/day. This compares to 342 mg/day for the general US population and the Recommended Daily Allowance of 420 mg/day.
Abbott, Robert D, et al. Dietary magnesium intake and the future risk of coronary heart disease. American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 92, September 15, 2003, pp. 665-69