As we have known for many years, essential hypertension is one of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease and strokes. Although pharmaceutical medicines have been helpful in decreasing blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, some of these medicines have also proven to have significant side effects. The non-pharmacological approach to treating blood pressure is an attractive concept. Recent research has pointed to the benefits of increasing fruit and vegetable intake in lowering blood pressure. A few epidemiological studies have hinted that perhaps magnesium plays a role in controlling BP. Recently, a Japanese study tried to discover whether oral magnesium supplementation had any effect on healthy subjects.
Dr. Kazue Itoh and colleagues, from the Nakamura Gakuen University in Faukuoka, Japan, performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with thirty-three subjects who were allocated to undergo either a 4-week treatment with oral Mg supplementation (Mg(OH)2) or a placebo. The dosage of the Mg was between 410 and 550 mg per day. Supplementation with Mg led to an increase in the urinary excretion of both Mg and sodium. Both systolic and diastolic BP numbers decreased significantly in the Mg group, but not in the subjects who were given placebo. In addition, those on Mg had an elevated level of lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase, HDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1, along with a decrease in noradrenaline excretion. The researchers state, "These results suggest that Mg supplementation may lower blood pressure through the suppression of the adrenergic activity and possible natriuresis, while also improving the serum lipids through the activation of LCAT in human subjects."
Itoh K, Kawasaki T, Nakamura M. The effects of high oral magnesium supplementation on blood pressure, serum lipids and related variables in apparently healthy Japanese subjects. British Journal of Nutrition 78:737-750, 1997.
Before taking out a prescription pad to prescribe a diuretic, beta-blocker, calcium channel blocker, or ACE inhibitor, it would make sense for doctors to recommend dietary methods and supplements to reduce BP. One way to start with Mg is with 100 mg twice a day, and this can be increased with time to 200 mg or 300 mg twice daily.