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Anemia may be a result of magnesium deficiency

Anemia may be a result of magnesium deficiencyAnemia is global problem that is on the rise. It causes fatigue, heart palpitations, impaired immunity, and a number of other symptoms. Iron deficiency is a known cause but according to a large population study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, there is also a link between magnesium deficiency and anemia, especially among women and older people. Magnesium is important for our health in general and for the formation of red blood cells, and magnesium deficiencies are rather common.

The rate of anemia has almost doubled in the period between 2003 and 2012 and it continues to go up. Anemia lowers the concentration of hemoglobin, the red oxygen-transporting protein in blood. As a result of this, the body’s cells get too little oxygen to support their normal energy turnover. Anemia is known to cause a number of symptoms such as paleness, tiredness, exercise-induced breathing difficulty, heart palpitations, headaches, impaired immunity, and tinnitus, and it can even increase the risk of early death.
In their new study, the scientists looked at the relation between low magnesium and anemia. They gathered data from a representative selection of 13,423 people in the ages 20-80 years. They were all recruited from the large American population study, NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2016). Their daily energy intake and their intake of different nutrients such as magnesium was calculated on behalf of phone interviews with questions about diet habits, choice of raw materials, and food quality in general. A total of 1,476 study participants (11 percent of the participants) had anemia.
After adjusting for possible confounders, the scientists found a significant inverse relation between dietary magnesium intake and the risk of anemia. The quintile with the lowest magnesium intake had a substantially greater risk of anemia compared with the quintile that got most magnesium. The scientists found the most pronounced relation between magnesium intake and anemia among women and older people. There was no statistically significant relation among younger and middle-aged men.

Magnesium and its role in health and blood cell formation

Magnesium supports hundreds of enzyme processes in the body that are important for our energy turnover, hormone balance, and general health. Lack of magnesium may cause dysfunctions such as imbalances in cell membranes, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation. A magnesium deficiency can lead to many different chronic diseases like heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Recent science has even pointed to magnesium as being important for cell division, cell differentiation, and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Magnesium is also important for the body’s formation of red blood cells, and the mineral even appears to serve as a coenzyme in the synthesis of glutathione peroxidase. This is a vital antioxidant that protects hemoglobin and the red blood cells against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Even though many studies have shown a link between magnesium deficiency and anemia, most of them are animal studies. The new research, which is based on the large NHANES population study, shows a much more specific relation between magnesium status and anemia.

Magnesium deficiencies are quite common

We primarily get magnesium from wholegrains, fresh vegetables, kernels, and nuts. The recommended daily intake level for men in the United States is 420 mg, while women are advised to get 320 mg. According to the new study, the group of participants that had anemia got around 239 mg of magnesium daily, which is far below the recommended intake level.
Over the past decades, magnesium deficiency has become an increasingly common problem because of our refined diets, stress, stimulant abuse, and the use of different kinds of medicine. It is best to get plenty of magnesium by eating coarse greens but one can also take a supplement. Make sure it contains a magnesium source with good absorption. Avoid taking magnesium oxide, which has poor absorption and is primarily intended as a laxative.


Jungao Huang et al. Association between magnesium intake and the risk of anemia among adults in the United States. Frontiers in Nutrition 2023

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