Your Heart's Favorite Mineral?

The mineral magnesium is an important component to the health of every organ in your body, especially for heart health.

Magnesium helps your heart maintain a steady rhythm and promotes normal blood pressure and is being studied for its role in preventing and managing such heart ailments as hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease. Magnesium also contributes to the building of healthy teeth and bones and activates enzymes that increase energy production and helps regulate levels of important nutrients in your body, including calcium, zinc, potassium and vitamin D.

The best way to get sufficient amounts of magnesium is through your diet. Eating a wide variety of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, as well as other green vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish, such as halibut, is usually enough to ensure that you meet your daily dietary need for magnesium. However, even if you're not getting enough magnesium from your diet, it's rare to be truly deficient in the mineral, although certain medical conditions, including intestinal viruses, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes and kidney disease, can wreak havoc on your body's magnesium balance. Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:

  • Anxiety, irritability
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Hyperventilation
  • Poor nail growth

If you suspect you may be deficient in magnesium, see your doctor to determine whether in fact you are and what the best remedy to restore magnesium levels to normal may be for you.  According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States Government's Office of Dietary Supplements, healthy adult males should get between 270 and 400 mg of magnesium daily and healthy adult females should aim for between 280 and 300 mg of magnesium a day. However, because there is a potential for side effects and drug interactions with dietary magnesium supplements, again, check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements to make sure they are safe for you and what the proper dosage is for you.

While it's rare to overdose from the magnesium you get from your diet, ingesting large amounts of milk of magnesia or Epsom salts, either as a laxative or tonic, may be harmful, especially if you have kidney problems. Too much magnesium can cause serious health problems, including:

  • Severely lowered blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Univeristy of Maryland Medical Center

National Institute of Health