Magnesium is an essential mineral vital to many bodily functions including muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood pressure, and immunity. Therefore, it makes sense that magnesium deficiencies are linked to a wide range of diseases.
Scientists have previously shown that mice on a low-magnesium diet have weaker immune responses against cancer and influenza. This inspired a paper, published in Cell, to research deeper into exactly what is going on here.
The part of our immune systems responsible for destroying malfunctioned cells is called cytotoxic T cells. The research group found that these killer cells can only eradicate cancerous or infected cells in the presence of magnesium. This is because the mineral activates pathways in the cytotoxic T cells that signal them into attack.
Through analyzing past clinical trial data from cancer studies, they also showed that low levels of magnesium were linked to more rapid disease progression and decreased survival.
“In light of our experimental data and the retrospective analyses we performed on two clinical trials, magnesium deficiency is very likely to be responsible for at least a proportion of the insufficient efficacy seen in cancer patients receiving immunotherapy,” explains senior author Dr. Christoph Hess to Medical News Today.
Following this research, the team is going to investigate the benefits of magnesium for patients undergoing cancer treatment in clinical trials.
If you feel like giving your immune system a helping hand, magnesium can be found in a number of foods. Rich sources of the mineral are almonds, cashews, peanuts, spinach, dark chocolate, dried legumes, and especially walnuts. Also, an effortless way to add more magnesium is through vegetable peels. It’s actually unnecessary to remove as much skin as we do and as we reported recently it contains huge amounts of nutrients.
Source study: Cell – Magnesium sensing via LFA-1 regulates CD8+ T cell effector function