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Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Sudden Death

Most men and women who succumb to heart disease die suddenly without any known history of heart problems. As I note in my 3-min. video How Do Nuts Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death?, up to 55% of men and 68% of women have no clinically recognized heart disease before sudden death. They obviously had rampant heart disease, it just wasn’t recognized until they were lying in the morgue. So if there was ever a case to be made for primary prevention—starting to eat healthier right now, tonight—before symptoms arise, sudden cardiac death is it. Especially since our first symptom is often our last. OK, so how do we do it?

Our story begins 43 years ago with a fascinating paper in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Sudden Death and Ischemic Heart Disease: Correlation With Hardness of the Local Water Supply.” There appeared to be “an increased susceptibility to lethal arrhythmias [fatal heart rhythms] among residents of soft-water areas.” So maybe one of the minerals found in hard water is protective, but which one? Well, researchers decided to cut some hearts open and find out.

On autopsy the hearts of sudden cardiac death victims had significantly lower magnesium concentrations compared to people that just got hit by a bus or something. They thought there might be a connection, but it wasn’t put to the test until recently. Why the decades-long delay in testing a potentially cheap simple way to help prevent our number one killer? That’s exactly the problem: cheap. Where’s magnesium found? Whole grains, greens, beans, nuts, and seeds. Who’s going to fund the study? The pumpkin seed lobby? Big spinach? If magnesium was found to be protective, who’s going to profit? Who’s going to benefit? Other than, of course, the hundreds of thousands of Americans that keel over dead every year without even being able to say goodbye to their families.

Watch my video Mineral of the Year–Magnesium to see what the new studies discovered.

For more on preventing sudden cardiac death, see:

-Michael Greger, M.D.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

9 responses to “Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Sudden Death

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  1. Thank you for your great article Dr. Greger. Are minerals such as magnesium depleted from our soils and therefore our food supply due to processing and modern farming methods.

    According to the Nutritional Magnesium Association article – “The magnesium levels found in these foods are determined by the quality
    of soil used for their cultivation. Conventional farmers often use
    fertilizers that may harm the soil, as these are greatly dependent on
    potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen instead of magnesium.”

    Best regards,


  2. Hi Dr. Greger. My son has been diagnosed with Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia and the pediatric cardiologist is starting him on beta blockers to get his heart rate down. Other than a high quality, food based multivitamin, are there any specific supplements or foods you recommend to help him lower his heart rate? Thanks so much for your expert opinion. I have learned so much from your videos and your website and appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with the world. Have a great weekend!

  3. OHB2018 –
    Let me suggest that you get a copy of “The Magnesium Miracle” by Carolyn Dean, M.D., ND. She went to medical school (where she states she learned how to dispense drugs) and then to Naturopathic School (where she learned to deal with disease and health). She will also consult with you. She has a website. All the information is in her book. I highly recommend you get a copy for yourself and your son. Best of luck to you.

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