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Magnesium & Heart Health

When you hear magnesium do you immediately think of sports performance or cramping legs? You are not alone. So often we are conditioned to think of minerals as having one function, but the reality is that many minerals, particularly magnesium are very diverse and can be used for many health conditions. In fact, magnesium has over 300 different functions in the body from electrolyte regulation, neurotransmitter production and yes,  you guessed it, muscle contraction. In fact, it’s not just related to skeletal muscle contraction but all smooth muscle contraction as well. That means those small smooth muscles in your gut propelling food forward, or those regulating the lens of your eye, and most importantly the smooth muscles of your heart. These contractions set the rate at which your heart pumps out blood to your organs.

Now with a molecule that is so biologically diverse how can we “direct” it towards a particular action? By selecting the right form of course! Minerals are able to bind or chelate to other molecules (some organic and some inorganic) and create salt forms.

Form matters for two major reasons:

1. It determines the absorption pathway of the mineral. I.e. is it being absorbed through passive transport into your blood stream, or active transport which required more energy but yields higher concentrations?

2. The form can result in a synergy of the action of both molecules when they dissolve in the body. For example, a magnesium bisglycinate absorbs and separates into the magnesium, and the glycinate. The glycinate molecule can have a calming and relaxing effect, meaning this is the ideal choice for sleep concerns, headaches, and stress. While magnesium malate yields malic acid upon absorption which is integral in the energy production cycles of cells.  We made a handy chart so you can see the functions of many popular magnesiums.

Magnesium Form Description and Summary Key Clinical Uses
Mg oxide Commonly used in OTC laxatives Laxative
Mg citrate Commonly used form – good absorption but still can be laxative Laxative, general magnesium support
Mg (bis)glycinate Amino acid glycine has calming effect on nerves Insomnia, restless legs, anxiety, muscle spasm
Mg malate Malate increases energy production inside cell Fibromyalgia, muscle pain
Mg aspartate Aspartate helps transport fats inside the cell Chronic fatigue
Mg taurate Normalizes electrical activity across membranes in heart and brain Cardiovascular disease Arrhythmia
Mg orotate Orotic acid also increases the formation of RNA and DNA, which can help repair damage to heart cells, improve stress tolerance and therefore improve function Hypertension Congestive Heart Failure Mitral valve prolapse Stable angina Blood vessel elasticity
Mg theronate Studied to penetrate past the blood brain barrier Brain injuries, cognition, memory, focus

Now when we are discussing the ideal magnesium for supporting the proper health and conduction of impulses in the heart we have a few options: magnesium taurine, magnesium potassium aspartates, and magnesium orotate.

Magnesium and taurine are integral in the nerve impulses that initiate the cascade of contractions that result in a heartbeat therefore this form tends to be most beneficial in helping maintain a healthy rhythm. Adding in the potassium aspatrates can also help with conduction by maintaining a strong electoral gradient but this one comes with some serious cautions as you can cause something called hyperkalemia, or too much potassium.

Another relatively unknown chelate combination is magnesium orotate, containing orotic acid. This form has good bioavailability and has been studied specifically for heart health. Orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the magnesium ion to the innermost layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus. Orotates themselves increase the formation of RNA and DNA which can help heart cells repair and therefore improve function. This combination has been shown to improve heart failure, symptoms of angina and exercise performance in clinical trials.

Certainly, when considering high-risk conditions, we want to investigate the atherogenic triad: ie. Blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol to determine a comprehensive treatment for cardiovascular health. Therefore, when the diet and lifestyle factors are supported magnesium can round out treatment as the missing piece. Interested in learning more about magnesium? Find our truth series magazines here!

Dr. Navnirat Nibber

About The Author

Dr. NavNirat Nibber, ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and a registered Naturopathic Doctor. She is a Co-Owner at Crescent Health Clinic, as well as a Senior Medical Advisor at Advanced Orthomolecular Research.

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