Posted on May 11, 2020, 4 p.m.
Estimates suggest that nearly half of all American adults have hypertension, and it is one of the leading causes of premature death around the globe affecting over 1.3 billion people which includes around 116.4 million Americans.
Those suffering with hypertension are typically advised to reduce salt intake to help manage the condition as sodium is known to elevate blood pressure. Recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that adding calcium and magnesium to drinking water may help to reduce hypertension.
This study is based on previous work examining the effects of drinking water sourced from ponds or underground on the health of residents in coastal areas in Bangladesh affected by seawater intrusions. This study compared blood pressure of individuals who drank salinated water from natural sources to those who drank fresh water, using data from two studies collecting data from dry and monsoon seasons when the salinity of the water sources fluctuate.
Those who drank mildy salinated water were found to have had average systolic blood pressure readings 1.55 mmHg lower than those who drank fresh water and average diastolic blood pressure readings were 1.26 mmHg lower as well.
Urine testing revealed that those with lower blood pressure had significant levels of calcium and magnesium in their systems; findings suggest that it was not the sodium in the water that contributed to this protective effect rather it was the calcium and magnesium.
Abud Mohd Naser the lead author of the study believes that the minerals worked to nullify the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure, which is great news for those living in the area who have no alternative sources of drinking water but those living in areas where treatment plants desalinate the groundwater may be missing out on this heart friendly benefit.
Dr. Robert M. Carey who is a professor at the University of Virginia and author of the latest blood pressure guidelines released from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology says that while the decreases in blood pressure observed in this study were small it is enough to warrant further investigation to confirm in a clinical setting whether water fortified with calcium and magnesium can help reduce hypertension or not to impact blood pressure levels in the average population.
“I think it’s pretty clear from many different studies that a small reduction in blood pressure, done consistently, can have a major impact in reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke,” said Carey. “That’s different from the approach we have taken historically, where we wait until someone becomes hypertensive and then we introduce lifestyle modifications, and then add drug therapy to help individuals lower their blood pressure,” added Carey. “I think we need to do both.”
Taking mineral supplements is not enough to prevent chronic disease, experts suggest that getting anti-hypertensive minerals from a health balanced diet is much better for overall health and well being. However, this kind of food choice is lacking in most American diets that tend to prefer food trucks, ready made meals, and fast food joints.
Naser makes mention that adding calcium and magnesium to drinking water may be a viable method for helping to neutralize the effects of the modern Western diet, and that water may be a better delivery system for these minerals over food since synthetic compounds added to food can interfere with nutrient absorption.
“If you can supplement or add calcium and magnesium to water, there is a high chance that they will be absorbed better,” Naser explained.
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