Seawater desalination and serum magnesium concentrations in Israel

Koren G, Shlezinger M, Katz R, Shalev V, Amitai Y

J Water Health 2017 Apr;15(2):296-299

PMID: 28362310


With increasing shortage of fresh water globally, more countries are consuming desalinated seawater (DSW). In Israel >50% of drinking water is now derived from DSW. Desalination removes magnesium, and hypomagnesaemia has been associated with increased cardiac morbidity and mortality. Presently the impact of consuming DSW on body magnesium status has not been established. We quantified changes in serum magnesium in a large population based study (n = 66,764), before and after desalination in regions consuming DSW and in regions where DSW has not been used. In the communities that switched to DSW in 2013, the mean serum magnesium was 2.065 ± 0.19 mg/dl before desalination and fell to 2.057 ± 0.19 mg/dl thereafter (p < 0.0001). In these communities 1.62% of subjects exhibited serum magnesium concentrations ≤1.6 mg/dl between 2010 and 2013. This proportion increased by 24% between 2010-2013 and 2015-2016 to 2.01% (p = 0.0019). In contrast, no such changes were recorded in the communities that did not consume DSW. Due to the emerging evidence of increased cardiac morbidity and mortality associated with hypomagnesaemia, it is vital to consider re-introduction of magnesium to DSW.

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