Lowering the risk of gallstones with magnesium

The results of this study almost support an old home remedy.

First, the details.

  • The effect of long-term consumption of magnesium on the risk of gallstone disease was studied in 42,705 men from 1986 to 2002.
  • Total and dietary magnesium consumption were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire.

And, the results as reported by NutraUSAIngredients.

  • Men with the highest intake of magnesium (454 mg/day) had a 28% reduction in the risk of gallstones, compared to those with the lowest intake (262 mg/day).
  • Dietary magnesium, which includes sources like green, leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains and nuts, and milk, decreased the risk by 32%.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that their “findings suggest a protective role of magnesium consumption in the prevention of symptomatic gallstone disease among men.”

The results also seem to support home remedies that include drinking magnesium to dissolve gallstones, as described in Wikipedia.

And yes, “In animal and clinical studies, a magnesium-deficient diet can elevate plasma triglycerides and decrease plasma HDL-cholesterol levels, and thus may increase the risk for gallstones.”

However, Dr. Cynthia Ko from the University of Washington in Seattle cautions against making too many broad conclusions. Does “higher magnesium intake protect against initial formation of gallbladder sludge and stones? Or, does higher magnesium intake decrease the likelihood of the already existing gallstones becoming symptomatic? Or both?”

There’s also a big diffeence between a lifetime of taking magnesium and drinking a few liters as the home remedies suggest.

What we do know is that many adults do not meet the RDA for magnesium (320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men).

2/29/08 19:48 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.