Magnesium is essential for many physiological functions in the human body. Its homeostasis involves dietary intake, absorption, uptake and release from bone, swifts between the intra- and extracellular compartment, and renal excretion. Renal excretion is mainly responsible for regulation of magnesium balance. In chronic kidney disease (CKD), for a long time the general policy has been limiting magnesium intake. However, this may not be appropriate for many patients. The reference ranges for magnesium are not necessarily optimal concentrations, and risks for insufficient magnesium intake exist in patients with CKD. In recent years, many observational studies have shown that higher (in the high range of “normal” or slightly above) magnesium concentrations are associated with better survival in CKD cohorts. This review gives an overview of epidemiological associations between magnesium and overall and cardiovascular survival in patients with CKD. In addition, potential mechanisms explaining the protective role of magnesium in clinical cardiovascular outcomes are described by reviewing evidence from in vitro studies, animal studies, and human intervention studies with non-clinical endpoints. This includes the role of magnesium in cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, arterial calcification, and endothelial dysfunction. Possible future implications will be addressed, which will need prospective clinical trials with relevant clinical endpoints before these can be adopted in clinical practice.
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