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December 8, 1978

Liquid Protein Diet Magnesium Deficiency and Cardiac Arrest

Author Affiliations

Medical Laboratory Associates Seattle

JAMA. 1978;240(24):2632-2633. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290240032015

To the Editor.—  High-protein diets in rats are used to produce severe magnesium deficiency.1 Severe magnesium deficiency produces an obligate loss of potassium and potassium deficiency that cannot be repleted by potassium alone.2 Also produced is cardiac myopathy characterized by myocardial cell neurosis and focal acute and chronic inflammation,3 findings similar to those reported in a recent editorial (240:144,1978). Death in rats usually occurs by cardiac arrhythmia or grand mal seizure after ten to 14 days of exclusive high-protein diet with vitamin and mineral supplements, except for magnesium. The addition of magnesium to controls results in healthy animals.The mechanisms of magnesium deficiency are numerous,4 and in addition, we have found normal magnesium balance in two patients given liquid protein diets based on results of 24-hour urine assays. The fact that young, weight-conscious women appear more susceptible may be explained by the common use of diuretics,