A diet rich in magnesium appears to reduce the
risk developing painful gallstones, according to
findings from a US study.
Consumption of magnesium has been declining over
the years, due in part to the overprocessing of
foods, Dr. Chung-Jyi Tsai and associates note in
their report in the American Journal of
Magnesium deficiency is known to raise triglyceride
levels and decrease HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
in the blood, both of which may increase the risk
of developing gallstones. Still, the long-term
effect of magnesium on the risk of gallstones in
humans was not known until now.
To investigate, Tsai, from the University of
Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, and
colleagues analyzed data from 42,705 men,
between 40 and 75 years of age, who were enrolled
in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The men were followed from 1986 to 2002.
The subjects were surveyed every 2 years to
assess the occurrence of new illnesses,
including gallbladder disease. Magnesium
consumption was determined with a semiquantitative
food frequency questionnaire sent to the participants
every 4 years.
During follow-up, 2195 men were diagnosed with
gallstone disease, the researchers found.
Compared with the lowest level of total magnesium
intake, the highest intake reduced the risk of
gallstone disease by 33 percent. The same risk
reduction was seen when considering just dietary
magnesium, when supplements were excluded.
“From many studies by this group and others,
it appears that a generally healthy dietary
pattern, with more plant-based foods, fiber,
and increasing complex carbohydrates, and
now increasing magnesium intake will decrease
the risk of symptomatic gallstones,” Dr. Cynthia
W. Ko, from the University of Washington in
Seattle, writes in an accompanying editorial.
“This ‘healthy’ dietary pattern will also help
in prevention of other chronic diseases in
addition to gallstones.”
According to Dr. Robert O. Young, a research
scientist at the pH Miracle Living Center, states,
“magnesium is one of four major acid buffers of
dietary and metabolic acids. When we increase
magnesium in the form of carbonate we decrease
the acids that can form gallstones.”
American Journal of Gastroenterology, February 2008
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