Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage and weaken the brain's blood vessels and lead to stroke. It can damage the heart and other organs of the body as well.
Getting sufficient amount of the dietary mineral magnesium, however, may be beneficial to one's blood pressure, findings of a new study have revealed.
Yiqing Song, from Indiana University's School of Public Health, and colleagues looked at the data of 34 clinical trials on magnesium supplements, which all involved more than 2,000 people.
The dosage of magnesium supplements in the research ranged between 240 and 960 mg per day but most of the participants in the trial met or exceeded the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium intake in adults, which is 310 to 320 mg per day for women and 400 to 420 mg per day for men.
By looking at the data, the researchers observed a small but significant association between magnesium intake and a healthy drop in blood pressure.
A 368 mg of magnesium taken everyday for about three months, for instance, led to an overall reduction in systolic blood pressure of 2 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of 1.78 mm Hg.
Taking 300 mg of magnesium daily for a month was enough to increase blood magnesium levels and reduce blood pressure. Higher levels of magnesium in the blood is linked to improved blood flow, which is a factor associated with lowered blood pressure.
"Our findings indicate a causal effect of Mg supplementation on lowering BPs in adults. Further well-designed trials are warranted to validate the BP-lowering efficacy of optimal Mg treatment," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Hypertension on July 11.
The researchers, however, think that the benefits of magnesium on blood pressure only apply to those with magnesium deficiency or insufficiency.
"Magnesium supplements could be considered as an option for lowering blood pressure in high-risk persons or hypertension patients," the researchers said.
American Heart Association spokesperson Penny Kris-Etherton said that taking magnesium supplements may not be necessary. He added that 368 mg of magnesium a day can be obtained from a diet that complies with AHA dietary recommendations.
Kris-Etherton said that the study shows the importance of a healthy diet that can provide the recommended amount of magnesium as a way of controlling blood pressure.
Magnesium, which dilates the arteries and in the process lowers the blood pressure, can be found in whole grains, nuts, beans and green leafy vegetables.