Changing crop magnesium concentrations: impact on human health

Abstract

Aims

Decreasing mineral concentrations in high-yield grains of the Green Revolution have coincided in time with rising global cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality rates. Given the Magnesium (Mg) Hypothesis of CVD, it’s important to assess any changes in food crop Mg concentrations over the past 50+ years.

Methods

Using current and historical published sources, Mg concentrations in “old” and “new” wheats, fruits and vegetables were listed/calculated (dry weight basis) and applied to reports of USA’s historic Mg supply, 1900–2006. Resulting trend in USA Mg supply was compared with USA trend in CVD mortality. Human Mg intake studies, old and new, were compared with the range of reported human Mg requirements.

Results

Acknowledging assessment difficulties, since the 1850s, wheats have declined in Mg concentration 7–29 %; USA and English vegetables’ Mg declined 15–23 %, 1930s to 1980s. The nadir of USA food Mg supply in 1968 coincides with the USA peak in CVD mortality. As humans transition from “traditional” to modern processed food diets, Mg intake declines.

Conclusions

Rising global CVD mortality may be linked to lower Mg intakes as world populations transition from traditional high Mg foods to those low in Mg due to declining crop Mg and processing losses.

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Acknowledgement

The author wishes to acknowledge mathematician Michael Plesset for consultation and calculation of statistics in preparation of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Andrea Rosanoff.

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Rosanoff, A. Changing crop magnesium concentrations: impact on human health. Plant Soil 368, 139–153 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-012-1471-5

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Keywords

  • Magnesium
  • Human nutrition
  • Global nutrition
  • Mineral nutrition
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • The magnesium hypothesis of cardiovascular disease
  • Decreasing food crop magnesium concentrations