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Getting enough magnesium could be a matter of life and death

If supplements were superheroes, “Magnesium Man” (wearing a big “M” on his chest) would probably be the best one of all.

And what he would be doing is going around saving countless people from sudden and unexpected deaths.

While magnesium performs hundreds of vital tasks throughout the body, none is more important than keeping your heart beating. And being deficient in it (which is not an easy thing to determine with a blood test) can put your heart in serious jeopardy.

In fact, not being deficient in magnesium may be the most essential thing you can do to make sure that the “beat goes on.”

The key to your heart?

Did Carrie Fisher die from a chronic magnesium deficiency?

That’s a question asked by Dr. George Lundberg, former editor-in-chief of JAMA and current editor at Medscape. And although he acknowledged that we’ll never really know for sure, based on what he’s read about the circumstances surrounding her death, he said “probably yes.”

As Dr. Lundberg noted, it’s long been known that low magnesium levels “can trigger a range of cardiac rhythm abnormalities, including some that are potentially lethal.” He also noted that this mineral is so powerful that magnesium infusions can actually quickly reverse cardiac arrhythmias.

Yet, despite the crucial role magnesium plays in more than 300 metabolic processes, it’s estimated that half of all Americans — and two-thirds of teens — are probably not getting the recommended daily dose of 300 to 400 mg.

In fact, there are four big ways that magnesium can help keep your ticker ticking:

#1: Regulating heart rhythm by keeping your heart muscle in sync with your heartbeat, and preventing arrhythmias and palpitations (which are more prone to occur when magnesium levels are low).

#2: Lowering blood pressure by easing the flow of blood and helping balance the blood levels of potassium and sodium. One study found that blood pressure readings dropped significantly in patients who took a 450 mg magnesium supplement daily.

#3: Lessening the effects of congestive heart failure, which include both arrhythmias and high blood pressure.

#4: Averting angina by preventing the spasms in coronary arteries that cause it — and that can be a direct result of magnesium deficiency.

And those are just the things it does for your heart.

Its many other functions in both our physical and mental well-being include lowering the risk of some cancers, strengthening bones, making digestion more efficient, reducing the severity of migraines, warding off depression, alleviating insulin resistance in diabetics, decreasing inflammation, and preventing cramps and other nerve-related afflictions.


Obviously, the most important question here is: How can you tell if you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient?

Since only a tiny bit of the magnesium in your body is found in your bloodstream, a simple blood test isn’t a good way to check. You could go for more advanced testing, such as checking magnesium levels inside your red blood cells or finding a lab that can isolate magnesium ions in your body, but really, the simplest thing you can do is to add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet!

And there are plenty to choose from, such as:

  • spinach and other dark leafy greens,
  • fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, tuna and halibut,
  • flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts and pecans,
  • avocados, bananas, yogurt and other dairy products, and,
  • dark chocolate, just one square of which can provide nearly a quarter of your daily magnesium needs!

And, of course, you can always take a magnesium supplement. Dr. Lundberg said that he takes 400 mg of magnesium citrate every day.

“Did Carrie Fisher die from chronic magnesium deficiency?” George D. Lundberg, MD, February 13, 2017, Medscape,

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