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Magnesium and Metabolic Syndrome

Friday February 18, 2022

Research shows low magnesium intake can lead to an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Currently one in four adults in the UK are suspected to suffer from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of three or more of the following conditions: diabetes; high triglycerides; low HDL; hypertension or abdominal obesity.[1]

Having three or more of these conditions puts you at a three times greater risk of cardiovascular related events, such as coronary heart disease, stroke and further complications to the blood vessels.[2]

Further risk factors that can lead to metabolic syndrome include:

Age: risk increases as we get older.

Race: African, Asian and Caribbean people are at an increased risk.

Health conditions: if you’ve previously had cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or diabetes.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, it is needed in over 300 enzymatic reactions and works directly in biochemical processes through maintaining homeostasis and normal metabolic function.

Magnesium has been shown to work directly with energy production, relaxation of blood vessels, muscles and nerve function as well as regulation of blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.[3] A reduction in total cellular magnesium has been shown to lead to the deterioration of overall metabolic functions and mitochondrial functions that are associated with various health conditions.

A meta-analysis by Dibaba et, al reviewed the link between magnesium intake and risk of metabolic syndrome. 6 studies were analysed with 24,473 participants, 6311 of which had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Magnesium intake was analysed and the overall findings found that dietary magnesium is inversely associated with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, thus justifying the need to monitor and maintain sufficient magnesium intake in the prevention of cardiovascular risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.[4]

Foods naturally rich in magnesium

Pumpkin seeds are a source of magnesium

The easiest way to increase magnesium is through diet. Foods naturally rich in magnesium include:

  • Leafy green vegetables - spinach, broccoli, sprouts
  • Raw chocolate - Cacao nibs, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Vegetables - avocado
  • Nuts - Cashews, almonds, brasil nuts
  • Seeds - pumpkin, sesame and sunflower
  • Fatty fish - organic trout, wild salmon, mackerel
  • Fruit - papaya, berries, tomato

In combination with appropriate lifestyle choices and adherence to a nutrient dense diverse diet providing sufficient levels of magnesium, cardiovascular related risk factors can be reduced.

For further information on how to increase your magnesium intake, please visit your local health store for personalised advice.

Author: Phil Beard is a Technical Educator at Viridian Nutrition. He holds a MSc in Nutrition and Health.


[1] National Health Service. (2016). Metabolic Syndrome. Available: Last accessed 02/10/2018. 

[2] International Diabetes Federation. (2006). The IDF consensus worldwide definition of the Metabolic Syndrome. IDF Communications. 1 (1), 1-24. 

[3] Takaya, J. Higashino, H. Kobyashi, Y. (2004). Intracellular magnesium and insulin resistance. Magnesium Research. 17 (2), 126-136. 

[4] Dibaba, D. Xun, P. Fly, A. Yokota, K. He, K. (2014). Dietary magnesium intake and risk of metabolic syndrome: a meta-analysis. Diabetic Medication. 31 (11), 1301-1309. 

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: NewsLove Your Heart, Cardio


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