Magnesium is a mineral essential to many bodily functions, one of which is the regulation of blood clots. Blood clots are particles of blood that congregate to form a plug that inhibits bleeding and promotes healing. The presence of magnesium benefits blood vessel health by balancing with calcium in the body. The ratio of calcium to magnesium is important because while calcium is responsible for the formation of blood clots, magnesium is responsible for their termination.
A blood clot, or thrombus, is a mass of platelets in the blood that helps the body repair damaged blood vessels and stop bleeding. When an area becomes injured, platelets form a protective barrier, beginning the healing process and coagulation.
Problems can arise with excessive clot formation in blood vessels. Venous blood clots are often due to immobilization. A deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that occurs in a deep vein, is dangerous when pieces of the clot, emboli, separate and travel through the bloodstream to an artery. This can cause heart attack, stroke or peripheral artery disease. Arterial blood clots can also occur by plaque buildup that forms along the blood vessel lining.
Magnesium is important in many bodily functions, such as metabolism, energy production, hormone functions, cellular membrane stability and the health of the neuromuscular, cardiovascular and immune systems. Because it has a role in vascular health and maintenance, its presence may help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and pathological blood clot formation. Magnesium can be taken in supplement form or consumed in foods such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts.
Magnesium and Vascular Health
Magnesium intake may benefit the function of the endothelium, the innermost layer of the blood vessels, and decrease systemic inflammation. Magnesium reduces arterial tone and tension and may increase vasodilation. Magnesium deficiency can cause the walls of the arteries and capillaries to constrict, increasing the pressure the blood needs to pump through the vessels. Deficiency may occur with alcoholism, malnutrition, kidney and gastrointestinal disease, diuretics or excess consumption of salt, sugar and caffeine.
In "Circulation," a 2000 study demonstrated that oral magnesium intervention for six months resulted in significant improvement in brachial artery endothelial function in a population of patients with coronary artery disease.
Ratio of Calcium and Magnesium
Another reason magnesium benefits the blood vessels is because of its role in the destruction of blood clots. Magnesium is able to regulate the process of coagulation by inhibiting calcium. The release of calcium is reduced from and into the cells, protecting against calcium overload. This balance is important in maintaining equilibrium of the circulatory system because calcium promotes blood clot formation and magnesium promotes their destruction. When calcium and magnesium are balanced at a ratio below 4-to-1, the formation and destruction of blood clots is healthy. When the ratio is above 4-to-1, pathological blood clot formation results. Keeping magnesium and calcium balanced prevents pathological formation of blood clots.
- “Circulation”; Oral Magnesium Therapy Improves Endothelial Function; Michael Shechter, et al.; 2000
- “The American Journal of Nutrition”; Magnesium Intake and Plasma Concentrations of Markers of Systemic Inflammation; Yiqing Song, et al.; April 2007
- “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; Relationship of Magnesium Intake and Other Dietary Factors to Blood Pressure; M.R. Joffres, et al.; February 1987
- “Journal of Nutrition”; Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses During Submaximal Exercise; Henry C. Lukaski, et al.; May 2002
- “Nyam News”; Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute; Magnesium, Nutrition, and Health; August 2005
- “Southeast Texas Medical Associates”; Cardiometabolic Risk Syndrome Part V; James L. Holly, et al.; January 2007