While calcium, potassium and magnesium each have a unique mechanism as protective factors in glaucoma, consuming enough of all three nutrients may have the most optimal effect. Photo: Andrew Rixon, OD. Click image to enlarge.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to maintaining proper health and function in every organ in the body, including the eye. Certain nutrients have been linked to decreased risk of various ocular diseases, such as glaucoma, though conflicting data surrounds this area of research. A recent cross-sectional study focused its gaze on three important macroelements—calcium, potassium and magnesium—to examine which might influence glaucoma risk. It found that sufficient dietary consumption of all three is likely necessary to protect against glaucoma, though each seemed to influence disease development in a distinctive way.
Data from 7,042 adults aged 40 or older who completed glaucoma examinations were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database from 2005 to 2008. Regression models were used to explore the association between dietary Ca, K, and Mg intake (based on a 24-hour dietary recall) and glaucoma. This relationship was also assessed in patients of different ages, with/without hypertension and with/without visual field defect.
Slightly more than 8% of the cohort had glaucoma. After covariate adjustment, the researchers noted that enough dietary Ca consumption (>800 mg/day) resulted in a decreased risk of glaucoma in both patients with and without hypertension, as well as in those with visual field defect (odds ratio: 0.59). Specifically in non-hypertension patients without visual field defect, they found that potassium intake (4.7g/day recommended) may be a potential protective factor for glaucoma (odds ratio: 0.41).
When they evaluated the association between glaucoma and Mg intake, the authors found that when intake reached the recommended level (400mg/day for males aged 19 to 30; 420 mg/day for males over 30; 310mg/day for females aged 19 to 30; 320mg/day for females older than 30), the risk of glaucoma decreased in hypertension patients (odds ratio: 0.05).
While each nutrient brings a unique benefit to the table, the researchers advise that adequate intake of all three is necessary to hinder the development or progression of glaucoma, which is relevant in the development of target glaucoma prevention measures. They concluded in their paper that “hypertension/non-hypertension persons aged <65 years old and with or without visual field defect should all pay attention to getting enough dietary supplement of Ca, K and Mg according to their own circumstances.”
Zhang Y, Zhao Z, Ma Q, Li K, Zhao X, Jia Z. Association between dietary calcium, potassium, and magnesium consumption and glaucoma. PLoS ONE. 2023;18(10):e0292883.