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Magnesium in Beer and Wine

I sent a can of Budweiser to a licensed laboratory for analysis of magnesium content; it tested at 34 mg/L magnesium content. Other American mega-brews are likely to be about the same, since they all have the same thin flavor and lack of body compared to many European brews and the micro-brews. Some American mega-brews even brag about their "pure" mountain water sources from snow-melt springs, which would have virtually no magnesium.

In European beers the situation is interesting. According to Briggs, Hough, Stevens, and Young, "Malting and Brewing Science", Vol II, p 779, British beers have magnesium levels ranging from 60 - 200 mg/l (no mean given), German beers from 75 - 250 with a mean of 114, and "Lagers" 34 - 162 with a mean of 82.

Wine appears to have a mean magnesium content of about 114 mg/l. Two papers have been written on this:

1. Mineral Contents of Some Souther Italian Wines, by Francesco S. Interesse et al, Z Lebenam Upscro (sp?) Forsch (1985) 181:470-474.

2. Metal Content of California Wine, by C. S. Ough et al, (1982), Journal of Food Science, Vol 47, 825-828. This paper found that the range for Mg in wine was 32 - 245 mg/l with an average value of 114 mg/l. (Courtesy of Christian Butzke at U. C. Davis).

Alcohol causes a rapid loss of magnesium, so beer and wine are not the recommended way of getting Mg; none-the-less, beverages containing more Mg are healthier than beverages containing less Mg.

Dave Radzanowski, Vice President of the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology, was quoted in Beverage Industry, May 1995, "Most brewers try to limit magnesium in their water sources because, combined with sulphates in beer, it tends to have a laxative effect." Heavy drinkers comprise a large market for mega-brewers, who may not wish to induce diarrhea in customers who drink 24 beers or more at a sitting. Mega-brewers aren't likely to increase Mg content until they have to. Some micro-brewers with beers rich in natural vitamins and minerals have complained to me that they are FORBIDDEN by the FDA from labelling their bottles with accurate nutritional information; I have never seen a nutrition panel on a bottle of beer or wine. The FDA should correct this immediately by requiring the same nutrition panels on beer and wine as on other foods.


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