Magnesium supplements boost lung health in asthmatics

February 23, 2010

     Daily supplements of magnesium may improve lung function in asthmatics, and improve their quality of life, says a new study from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington State. Measures of lung capacity increased by about 6 % during six months of magnesium supplementation, and improvements were also observed in resisting the inflammation causing effects seen as a bronchial response to methacholine, a chemical that produces constriction of the lungs, according to the findings which are published in the Journal of Asthma.
     Epidemiological studies have reported beneficial effects of magnesium on asthma occurrence and management, but less than half of adults in the US consume the recommended levels of the mineral, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 1999-2000. In order to test the hypothesis that magnesium supplements could improve lung function, lead researcher Dr Kazaks and her co-workers recruited 55 mild-to-moderate asthmatics between 21 to 55 years of age to participate in their randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily dose of 340 milligrams of magnesium or placebo for 6.5 months.
     At the end of the study, a 6 % improvement in lung function, measured as the peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), was observed in the magnesium group, and not in the placebo group. Furthermore, 20 % more methacholine was needed in the magnesium group to produce bronchoconstriction (aggravate breathing) to the same degree as seen in the placebo group. Quality of life, a subjective measure obtained by questionnaire, only improved in the magnesium group, added the researchers.
     Commenting on the potential mechanism, Dr Kazaks and her co-workers noted that magnesium may influence the properties of cell membranes, thereby improving offer the ability of the lungs to expand. The mineral may also offer anti-inflammatory properties, which could improve asthma control, they said. The study is published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Asthma.