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Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?

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  • 1Center for Magnesium Education & Research, 13-1255 Malama Street, Pahoa, HI 96778, USA.


In comparison with calcium, magnesium is an "orphan nutrient" that has been studied considerably less heavily. Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer. Almost half (48%) of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from food in 2005-2006, and the figure was down from 56% in 2001-2002. Surveys conducted over 30 years indicate rising calcium-to-magnesium food-intake ratios among adults and the elderly in the United States, excluding intake from supplements, which favor calcium over magnesium. The prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the United States increased sharply between 1994 and 2001 as the ratio of calcium-to-magnesium intake from food rose from <3.0 to >3.0. Dietary Reference Intakes determined by balance studies may be misleading if subjects have chronic latent magnesium deficiency but are assumed to be healthy. Cellular magnesium deficit, perhaps involving TRPM6/7 channels, elicits calcium-activated inflammatory cascades independent of injury or pathogens. Refining the magnesium requirements and understanding how low magnesium status and rising calcium-to-magnesium ratios influence the incidence of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and other inflammation-related disorders are research priorities.

© 2012 International Life Sciences Institute.

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