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Magnesium intake lowers gallstone risk

A diet rich in magnesium seems to cut down the risk of developing painful gallstones.

Magnesium intake lowers gallstone risk

A diet rich in magnesium seems to cut down the risk of developing painful gallstones. 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. But consumption of magnesium has been declining over the years, partly due to over-processing of foods. However, the long-term effect of magnesium on the risk of gallstones in humans has not been studied earlier. To investigate this association, researchers in America analysed data obtained 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 participants were surveyed every two years to assess the occurrence of new illnesses, including gallbladder disease. Magnesium consumption was determined with a food questionnaire sent to the participants every four years. During follow-up, 2195 men were diagnosed with symptomatic gallstone disease. Compared with the lowest level of total magnesium intake, the highest intake reduced the risk of gallstone disease by 33 per cent. The same risk reduction was seen when considering just dietary magnesium, when supplements were excluded. The findings suggest that a generally healthy dietary pattern, with more plant-based foods, fibre, increase in complex carbohydrates, and increase in magnesium intake, decreases the risk of symptomatic gallstones. This healthy diet could also help in preventing other chronic diseases in addition to gallstones.
American Journal of Gastroenterology,
February 2008
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