When I’m asked about nutrients to help lower blood pressure, magnesium is always near the top of the list. Consuming the proper amount of magnesium should be a priority. You may be wondering, how can magnesium lower blood pressure?
Magnesium helps to lower blood pressure by relaxing the body, muscles, veins and arteries. This helps the blood vessels from constricting and raising blood pressure. Magnesium regulates other minerals in the body, like calcium and potassium, vital to healthy blood pressure.
In this blog post I’ll explain to you in detail how magnesium lowers blood pressure. In addition, I’ll inform you the best foods high in magnesium, how much of it you should be getting daily and if its possible to get too much.
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How Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure
Magnesium Relaxes Blood Vessels
Magnesium is needed to help the blood vessels relax. It has anti-inflammatory properties which may prevent blood clotting and helps the blood vessels to relax 1.
A relaxed blood vessel is less likely to constrict. Constricted blood vessels cause all sorts of problems including making the heart work harder which puts more pressure on the blood vessel walls 2.
Magnesium Controls Hundreds of Body Systems
Magnesium helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure. In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting.
When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscles cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
A proper amount of magnesium helps the body absorb calcium. Magnesium is needed to transport calcium across cell membranes. If calcium is unbalanced with magnesium, it can lodge in areas of the body and cause harm.
One of these places is the arteries. Calcification of the arteries can lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
Magnesium and the Na/K ATPase
Magnesium is needed to activate the Na/K ATPase, the sodium pump and helps to protect against potassium loss. Potassium levels are important in controlling blood pressure.
The potassium to sodium ratio helps the body rid excess fluid which helps to keep blood pressure lower 3.
The extra fluid and volume of blood put more pressure on the blood vessels walls and make the heart work harder.
Magnesium Helps Relieve Insomnia
Magnesium helps to relieve insomnia because it calms the muscles and nerves. Magnesium helps the body relax and prevent restless leg syndrome. In addition, it is known to help relieve anxiety and fight depression 4.
Magnesium Improves Mood
Magnesium plays a crucial role in brain function and mood. By getting enough sleep and remaining more calm, there is less release of stress hormones, like cortisol.
Magnesium is one of the 35 ways to lower blood pressure in my article, How To Lower Blood Pressure. Check it out and learn more about the other methods including one which lowered systolic 17 mmHG naturally!
Magnesium Studies Lowering Blood Pressure
The following are three recent studies showing how magnesium is associated with lower blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Published in 2016, in Hypertension Journal, researchers looked at 34 different studies involving over 2,000 people 5. The researchers found the following:
- Taking 368 mg of magnesium supplements a day for 3 months reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Taking 300 mg of magnesium a day for 1 month resulted in lower blood pressure and higher magnesium levels.
- Higher magnesium levels were associated with an improvement in blood flow, a factor known to help lower blood pressure.
- The studied concluded the lowering of blood pressure with magnesium supplements might only be effective for people deficient in magnesium.
Another study published in 2006 found magnesium supplementation lowered diastolic blood pressure by 2.2 mm Hg in 545 people with high blood pressure 6.
A study published in 2012 researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 3-4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg 7.
Foods High In Magnesium
Knowing magnesium is good for lowering blood pressure and overall health, makes people wonder about, what magnesium rich foods lowers blood pressure?
10 magnesium rich foods for lowering blood pressure:
Spinach is loaded with nutrients, and it’s low in calories. Spinach is also rich in potassium, calcium and iron.
2. Swiss Chard
This heavy green vegetable is also known as spinach beet or silverbeet. Besides magnesium, it’s high in vitamins k and a. Swiss chard has high levels of nitrates which has been shown to lower blood pressure.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in zinc and iron and contains antioxidants helping with several other health benefits.
Why is dark chocolate much better than milk chocolate? Because it has much more cacao and less sugar than milk chocolate. For most people it doesn’t taste as good but the difference in health benefits is crucial.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
In addition to magnesium, pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. All of these help to reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Besides having magnesium, almonds are one of the best resources of vitamin e. It also contains fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins. This helps to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
6. Coconut Milk
This magnesium high food can be used as a substitute for other non-healthy foods. Instead of having strawberries and cream, try strawberries with coconut milk.
Make a creamy latte with coconut milk and coffee. Coconut milk can be used in place of yogurts or cream, especially when making a curry.
One of the most popular nuts in the world, they also contain high amounts of copper and manganese. I love buying a bag of mixed nuts where almonds and cashews are the main nuts.
This fruit is the star of a great guacamole, and I love having it on the side of my spinach omelette dish. I’ll also mush it up and use it as a spread on just about anything.
In addition to magnesium, avocado is a good source of potassium great for lowering blood pressure.
9. Halibut Fish
There’s nothing better than eating foods both high in magnesium and potassium. Halibut is high in niacin, phosphorous, B 12 and B6. Like other good fish, Halibut is high in omega-3 fatty acids good for lowering cholesterol and heart health.
A blood pressure supplement I recommend contains both magnesium and B6 in addition to 11 other beneficial BP ingredients. You can check it out in the manufacturer’s website, Blood Pressure Optimizer.
10. Black Beans
Black beans are high in magnesium and like other beans, are high in other minerals. Stay away from canned beans because of their high sodium content.
If you must, buy the lower sodium option and rinse the beans before heating them up.
You may know green tea is beneficial for many things, but how about BP? Check out my article and find out, Does Green Tea Lower Blood Pressure?
How Much Magnesium Should You Consume Daily
Side effects from too much magnesium from food are very rare. This is so because the body excretes any excess in the urine. However, if you consume too much magnesium from supplements, you can experience diarrhea, abdominal cramping and nausea.
Therefore, how much magnesium should you consume every day? The table below lists the current recommended daily amounts for magnesium as per the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board:
|Birth-6 months||30 mg||30 mg|
|7-12 months||75 mg||75 mg|
|1-3 years||80 mg||80 mg|
|4-8 years||130 mg||130 mg|
|9-13 years||240 mg||240 mg|
|14-18 years||410 mg||360 mg||400 mg||360 mg|
|19-30 years||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|31-50 years||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
|51+ years||420 mg||320 mg|
As per the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board 8.
Magnesium Deficiency Affects Blood Pressure
If magnesium levels are so low making the body deficient, it makes it more difficult to keep blood pressure low. Typically, when magnesium levels are too low, it’s not from lack of nutrition.
The kidneys limit the amount of magnesium excreted through urine. Excessive loss of magnesium and consistently low levels are typically due to the following:
- Certain health conditions.
- Certain medications.
- Excessive alcohol.
Some early signs you are becoming magnesium deficient include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Weakness: Low magnesium can cause weakness due to the loss of potassium in muscle cells.
As magnesium deficiency gets worse, the following symptoms can occur:
- Tingling and numbness.
- Muscle cramps: A greater flow of calcium into nerve cells can over stimulate the muscle nerves.
- Abnormal heart rhythms: Low magnesium can cause an imbalance of potassium levels outside and inside the heart cells.
- Coronary spasms.
- Personality changes: Studies have associated low magnesium with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Magnesium inadequacy occurs when magnesium intake is less than the recommended amount, but doesn’t fall to levels considered to be deficient. The following are people at risk for magnesium inadequacy.
- Type 2 Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance can have increased magnesium excreted through urine.
- Gastrointestinal Diseases: People with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and regional enteritis can have magnesium depletion over time due to fat malabsorption and chronic diarrhea.
- Older Age People: As people age, magnesium absorption from the gut decreases. In addition, older people are more likely to have medical conditions or take medications affecting magnesium levels.
- Excessive Alcohol: People who are suffering from chronic alcoholism have poor diets, gastrointestinal issues and other deficiencies leading to a magnesium deficiency.
The above are at risk because they consume less magnesium or have a medical condition reducing the amount of magnesium absorbed by the body.
In addition, the medication they are taking may reduce the amount of magnesium stored in the body. Because magnesium levels are low, it makes it harder for them to lower blood pressure.
How To Know If You Are Magnesium Deficient
If you fall into any of the high-risk groups, experiencing symptoms of low magnesium or taking medications can leave you with a magnesium deficiency. This can make it harder to lower blood pressure. Therefore, how do you really know if you are magnesium deficient?
To find out if you’re magnesium deficient, discuss with your physician about taking a simple blood test to measure the magnesium levels.
If you’re going to do this, it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor what kind of test you’re going to get 9. The most common blood test measures serum magnesium levels.
This test doesn’t measure the magnesium level within the cell where 99% of the magnesium is found. Inquire about getting an erythrocyte magnesium level or a red blood cell magnesium level test.
These two tests provide better insight into the magnesium levels and are available from many labs across the U.S.
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What minerals are good for lowering blood pressure? The following minerals are valuable for lowering blood pressure: magnesium, potassium and calcium. All three minerals play substantial roles in blood vessel health helping to lower blood pressure.
Can too much magnesium cause high blood pressure? Too much magnesium will not cause high blood pressure. In fact, too much magnesium may cause low blood pressure. Other serious side effects including irregular heart beat, slowed breathing, coma, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, confusion and even death.
How many points does magnesium lower blood pressure? 22 studies concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 3-4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg. A study in 2006 found magnesium supplementation lowered diastolic blood pressure by 2.2 mm Hg in 545 people with high blood pressure.
What type of magnesium is best for high blood pressure? Magnesium taurate has been shown to lower blood pressure in studies. Taurine, an ingredient in magnesium taurate, helped lower blood pressure in scientific research.
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- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Physiology, Cardiovascular[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sodium-to-Potassium Ratio and Blood Pressure, Hypertension, and Related Factors[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial[↩]
- Hypertension: Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Magnesium supplementation for the management of essential hypertension in adults[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[↩]
- Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride[↩]
- Harvard Health: Ask the doctor: Should I have my magnesium level checked?[↩]