Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for January 07, 2007

Magnesium, Niacin and Cardiovascular Wellness

Heart disease kills almost 1 million Americans annually, and has been the leading cause of death since the early 1900s. However, scientific studies are showing how a wide array of nutrients can prevent or treat risk factors such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Two such important compounds are magnesium and niacin.

Magnesium is present in more than 300 enzymatic systems, and is critical for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) metabolism. Researchers at the State University of New York, Buffalo, released an extensive review on magnesium and its role in the human body, with a particular focus on its importance in cardiovascular health.1 They noted 67 percent of studies investigating magnesiums effect on hypertension reported use of magnesium resulted in significant decreases in blood pressure.

Clinical work supports their findings. A Japanese study of 33 subjects treated with magnesium reported significant decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure values and improved lipid profiles.2 Similar findings were reported by French researchers who found magnesium deficiency was linked to higher blood pressure readings and accelerated stiffening of the carotid artery.3

The stiffening of the carotid artery is linked to risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A major population-based study followed more than 7,000 men over 30 years, analyzing dietary magnesium intake.4 There was a 1.7- to 2.1-fold higher risk of CHD in the lowest quintile of magnesium intake compared to the highest intake values. Clinical studies support these findings, as oral magnesium therapy has been found to improve endothelial function and exercise tolerance in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).5,6

Niacins role in supporting cardiovascular wellness lies primarily in its ability to both lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. A review from Northwestern University, Chicago, noted niacin has a range of actions to improve endothelial function, reduce inflammation, increase plaque stability and diminish thrombosis.7 It further noted niacin changes the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification, and is the best-known agent for increasing HDL levels. This ability was recognized by researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, who suggested physicians consider adding niacin to pharmaceutical regimens for patients with dyslipidemia.8

In fact, trials are investigating niacins ability to complement statin drugs used in dyslipidemic patients. The HDL Atherosclerosis Treatment Study showed simvastatin plus niacin reduced major clinical events by 60 percent in patients with CAD with low HDL; and follow-up work found the combination to be effective and safe.9 A report out of the Louisville (Ky.) Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center found extended-release niacin combined with lovastatin was more effective than simvastatin monotherapy in reducing LDL cholesterol, and increasing the proportion of HDL.10

The most common adverse reaction associated with niacin intake is flushing, a physical sensation of warmth and skin redness associated with increased blood circulation. Flush-free niacin products may reduce the incidence of flushing, but there have been some concerns that they may not contain nicotinic acidthe form linked in studies with cholesterol improvements. One study from the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, reviewed the costs and content of immediate-release, extendedrelease and no-flush preparations.11 Both the immediate release and extended-release preparations cost between $7 and $10 per month and provided between 502 mg and 520 mg of nicotinic acid. The no-flush preparations were approximately three times as expensive, and contained no free nicotinic acid; the preparations contained primarily inositol hexanicotinate, which has not been clinically shown to impact cholesterol levels.


January 7, 2007 - Posted by | Health | , ,

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