Does Magnesium Help With Inflammation?

Inflammation has become a buzzword that everyone tosses around — but what does it really mean? And is there any way to treat it naturally? According to science, magnesium may help.

Inflammation is actually a natural response to bodily harm, such as cutting your finger or getting the flu (via Harvard Health Publishing). White blood cells are sent to the affected area to protect it, causing swelling and redness. This is acute inflammation, and it's a necessary bodily function. Chronic inflammation, however, occurs when other unwanted substances enter the body, such as cigarette smoke toxins or excess belly fat. This can eventually affect the arteries, leading to buildup of fatty plaque and possible blood clotting, heart attack, or stroke.

Inflammation can be tested with a blood test that measures C-reactive protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation (via Harvard Health Publishing). Studies have shown that men with higher levels of CRP were three times more likely to suffer from a heart attack and twice as likely to have a stroke, compared to men with little to no inflammation.

According to Cleveland Clinic, chronic inflammation is associated with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, asthma, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. So how can we treat it?

Can magnesium help?

In a 2014 review published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, it was found that people who are deficient in magnesium have elevated CRP levels, indicating high inflammation. Low dietary intake of magnesium was therefore associated with chronic inflammation.

A 2010 study by the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium showed that people who have low magnesium and chronic inflammation could find relief by increasing their magnesium intake.

Magnesium is an important mineral in the body that helps the functioning of things like nerves, bones, and muscles (via WebMD). You can increase your magnesium levels by eating magnesium-rich foods, such as legumes, whole grains, chocolate, some dairy products, nuts, and seeds. While you can also take a magnesium supplement, some doctors recommend focusing on dietary sources, as there's caution against taking too much of a supplement (via Mayo Clinic). Too much could cause nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, and could interact with some medications.