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Magnesium supplements counteract harmful inflammation

Magnesium supplements counteract harmful inflammationThe ageing process and most chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer involve chronic inflammation that has the potential to damage healthy tissue. If acute hyperinflammation occurs, for example in connection with virus infections like influenza and COVID-19, the condition may become potentially life-threatening. It is therefore vital that the body can control the different inflammatory processes. One of the things that is needed for this is magnesium, according to a meta-analysis that is published in Nutrients. Here, the researchers look closer at how magnesium supplementation is able to reduce different pro-inflammatory markers. Magnesium also helps activate vitamin D, which is also necessary for controlling inflammation.

The immune defense must be able to fight acute infections and poisonings by launching inflammatory processes that it keeps on a tight leash with help from cytokines and other markers. However, it is vital that the immune reaction is halted, once the mission is complete. If the inflammation becomes chronic it can become extremely dangerous, because the body continues to produce cytokines and other pro-inflammatory compounds. This can lead to oxidative stress that can cause irreparable damage to cells and tissues.
As it turns out, ageing processes, overweight, and a number of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders, asthma, periodontitis, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, sclerosis, and cancer involve chronic inflammation. According to WHO, chronic inflammation and the chronic diseases that follow in its wake are the leading cause of death globally. The prevalence of these conditions is expected to increase drastically within the next thirty years, unless fundamental changes are introduced with regard to lifestyle and diet. In the new study, the researchers have focused on magnesium and how this nutrient regulates inflammation.

Magnesium lowers inflammation markers and raises levels of nitric oxide (NO)

Magnesium is one of the minerals we need in the largest quantities. It is involved in well over 300 different enzyme processes that are important for things like our nervous system, muscles, blood sugar management, fluid balance, calcium regulation, and vitamin D utilization. A growing number of studies have revealed how important magnesium is for our health. It also seems that magnesium is important for controlling inflammatory processes, although the research is limited.
In their new meta-analysis, the researchers collected date from 17 randomized, controlled studies from different databases. All the included studies looked at magnesium supplements and how they affected various inflammation markers when compared with placebo. The studies included a total of 889 participants with an average age of 46 years.
According to the studies, magnesium supplements can reduce the following markers:

  • CRP (C-reactive protein).
  • Plasma fibrinogen
  • TRAP (tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase type 5)
  • TNF-ligands (tumor necrosis factor-ligands)
  • ST2 protein
  • Interleukin-1

The scientists concluded that magnesium supplements lower various pro-inflammatory markers significantly, especially CRP.
They also addressed how the reduction of these markers regulates the white blood cells of the immune defense, thereby preventing them from overreacting.
Another important mechanism is magnesium’s function in the calcium channel of cells. Here, the nutrient serves as a door bolt that opens or closes the channel, thereby controlling how much or how little calcium enters the cells. The cells in soft tissues should be virtually devoid of calcium, whereas cells in bones and teeth must have generous amounts of calcium to keep them healthy. If you lack magnesium, there is an increased risk that too much calcium enters cells in soft tissues and stresses them, causing inflammation. Lack of magnesium can also result in too little calcium entering the cells in hard tissues with an increased risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. That is why one always take calcium supplements together with magnesium.
Magnesium-containing enzymes also help us activate the type of vitamin D we get from sun exposure or from supplements. This is extremely important because of vitamin D’s vital role in the immune defense and in the regulation of inflammatory processes.
The scientists even found that magnesium increased blood levels of nitric oxide (NO), a compound with many functions such as killing airborne microbes, helping smooth muscle tissue relax, and dilating blood vessels. Daily magnesium doses of 250-500 mg were used in the different studies. The new meta-analysis is published in Nutrients.

Magnesium sources and the quality of supplements

Magnesium is primarily found in whole grains, almonds, nuts, cabbage, and other coarse greens. Our magnesium intake has dropped over the past decades due to nutrient-depleted farmlands, food refinement, unhealthy dietary habits, and various other things.
The recommended daily intake for magnesium (in Denmark) is 375 mg, although the need for the nutrient may be a lot higher for people who are overweight, take diuretics, or suffer from chronic inflammation. It is important that magnesium in supplement form is organic and easy for the body to absorb and utilize. Magnesium oxide that is found in different supplements and in Magnesia for treating constipation is not absorbed very well and only works locally in the intestines.

Common reasons for lacking magnesium

  • Unhealthy diets
  • Fertilizer and pesticide use that lowers the magnesium content in crops
  • There is less magnesium in non-organic and refined foods
  • Getting too much calcium from dairy products and supplements
  • Excessive alcohol intake or stimulant abuse
  • Diabetes and other chronic diseases
  • Diuretics
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Stress

Read more:

»Chronic inflammation is the leading cause of death«


Nicola Veronese et al. Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Inflammatory Parameters: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients 2022.

Mohsen Nabi-Afjadi et al. The effect of vitamin D, magnesium and zinc supplements on interferon signaling pathways and their relationship to control SARS-CoV-2 infection. Clinical and Molecular Allergy. 2021

Megan Ware. Why do we need magnesium? Medical News Today. 2020

Gerry K. Schwalfenberg and Stephen J. Genuis. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Carro) 2017

Andrea Rosanoff et al. Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium status. Advances in Nutrition 2016

Roma Pahwa; Ishwarial Jialal. Chronic Inflammation. NCBI April 2018

Andrea Rosanoff et al. Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium status. Advances in Nutrition 2016

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