Here’s a recent article from Usana Health Sciences (a vitamin/supplement company) that I found interesting. The source data for the article is from the JACN.

Beneficial effects of [magnesium] are similar to statin drugs

Because of its many cardiovascular benefits and good safety profile, many researchers suggest that magnesium supplementation could be a viable alternative for those who cannot or choose not to take statin drugs.

Statins are a class of drugs commonly prescribed for individuals with elevated cholesterol levels, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While statins are effective, they also carry undesirable side-effects, and some people cannot, or choose not to use them.

A review published in the October 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that the essential nutrient magnesium provides many of the same cardiovascular benefits ascribed to statin drugs.

The authors noted that both statin drugs and magnesium can inactivate the enzyme responsible for the first step in cholesterol formation, thus lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Both can improve the function of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and provide other cardiovascular benefits. Magnesium, however, can also help elevate beneficial HDL cholesterol levels while reducing triglycerides. In addition, magnesium is necessary for the enzyme that converts essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acids) into compounds that reduce inflammation. Optimal levels of magnesium also provide natural calcium channel blocker activity, which helps dilate blood vessels and control blood pressure.

Because of its many cardiovascular benefits, relatively low cost, and good safety profile, the authors suggested that increasing magnesium intakes through diet and supplementation could provide a viable alternative for those who cannot, or choose not to take statin drugs.

Note: If you are currently taking a statin drug to lower cholesterol, do not discontinue its use except on the advice of your physician. This information is not meant to imply that magnesium supplements should replace all statin drugs. However, adequate magnesium is very important for cardiovascular health, especially for those at risk for coronary artery disease.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 5, 501S-505S (2004)

If you are interested in increasing your magnesium and aren’t interested in taking vitamins, you can certainly get it from foods. Here’s an interesting link indicating which foods contain this mineral.

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