Magnesium Deficiency and Hypertension

Do You Know Your Magnesium Level?

 While prescription medications are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, there are nutrient and mineral deficiencies that contribute to the development of high blood pressure.  Magnesium is one of these vital minerals. In addition to being responsible for keeping our bones strong and healthy, it is an essential mineral for helping us control our blood pressure. Because magnesium functions as a smooth muscle vasodilator, it help to keep our blood vessels soft and pliable.


Magnesium is also important for the following reasons as it concerns high blood pressure:

* Low Magnesium levels can also directly be a cause of low potassium levels. Potassium supplementation is also very important for keeping your blood pressure in check.

*  Magnesium is also essential for a good night's sleep.  Problems with sleep quality and quantity can directly contribute to the development of high blood pressure.  For many patients with high blood pressure and problems sleeping, I ask them to consider taking a nighttime magnesium supplement. Magnesium deficiency can affect your ability to get a good night's sleep which is essential not only to blood pressure health but total body health.

*  Optimal Magnesium levels are essential for keeping your heart healthy.

* Low Magnesium increases insulin resistance which may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

What are some causes of magnesium deficiency?

If you live in an industrialized society, you are likely magnesium deficient. There are a few reasons for this:

* The Western diet is notably deficient in magnesium.

* Many medications can cause the body to be depleted of magnesium, including medications such as proton pump inhibitors, and diuretics. Diuretics, which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, can cause low magnesium and low potassium levels.


How do you know if your magnesium levels are low?

It is important to understand that magnesium is a mineral that is primarily located inside of the cells in the body. There is a little bit of magnesium that we can measure in the blood that can provide some clues as to whether or not you are magnesium deficient. The least cumbersome way to let you know what your magnesium levels are is routine blood work that your physician or health care provider  may order. They may not order it on routine lab work; if you have high blood pressure be sure that they include it on your blood work.

Many labs have a "reference range" for what is considered a"normal" level for magnesium. The normal ranges are usually 1.6-2.6 mg/dL. Note that this is quite a wide range; there is a significant difference between a magnesium level in the blood of 1.6 mg/dL and 2.6 mg/dL. On routine blood work that I see, many people routinely have magnesium levels of 1.5-1.6 mg/dL. Levels at this range strongly suggest magnesium deficiency.

While there are other tests available to test for magnesium deficiency, including red blood cell magnesium levels as well as specialized urinary testing for magnesium, these tests can be somewhat cumbersome to do and for your routine lab to perform. 

How is magnesium deficiency treated?

* First, increase the green vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet. These are very high in magnesium content. Your goal is to average at least 400-600 mg a day in your diet.

* You may need to supplement your magnesium. Be aware that not all magnesium supplements are created equally. There are many different types of magnesium supplements and each one has different rates of absorption. This means that just because a certain formulation of magnesium may be 200 mg does not mean that all 200 mg are absorbed in your system.

* I tend to like chelated magnesium which is devoid of heavy metals. Magnesium malate is also an excellent type of magnesium that provides energy to the cells( malic acid is an excellent energy booster to the cell).

* Be aware of and talk with your health care provider about possibly eliminating prescription medications that may be depriving your body of magnesium.  

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