Research confirms: Magnesium supplements linked to stronger muscles and bones

Calcium is not the only nutrient that you need for bone and muscle health. Magnesium, an abundant mineral found almost everywhere, is also a factor in the maintenance of bones and muscles, especially as you age.

A study published in Nutrients shows that higher intake of magnesium in our diets can protect against age-related skeletal muscle and bone loss. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that magnesium is a necessary mineral with various benefits such as maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping the rhythm of the heart steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping the bones strong. Magnesium is also needed for management of blood sugar and healthy blood pressure.

The group of researchers, led by Ailsa Welch from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K., analyzed data from 156,575 individuals in the U.K. Biobank cohort, who were between the ages of 39 and 72. Using the Oxford WebQ, a 24-hour recall questionnaire, researchers tracked and assessed the diets of the particiapants on a regular basis, focusing on their dietary magnesium intake.

The results of the study showed that increased intake of dietary magnesium resulted in stronger and healthier individuals. Measurements of the increases are shown below:

  • Increased grip strength: 1.1 percent in men; 2.4 percent in women
  • Increase in fat-free mass percentage: 3.0 percent in men; 3.6 percent in women
  • Increase in fat-free mass body mass index: 5.1 percent in men; 5.5 percent in women
  • Increase in bone mineral density: 2.9 percent in men; 0.9 percent in women

Welch’s study has clinical significance because it is the largest study to date that investigates dietary supplementation of magnesium and its association with bone mineral density and skeletal muscles. The study further supports NIH’s statement of sufficient magnesium consumption, as well as protein (for the muscle) and calcium (for the bones). Around 70 to 80 percent of the total population of the U.S. do not meet the recommended intake of magnesium, which is 400 to 420 mg/day for men, and 310 to 320 mg/day for women. This has resulted in the rapid growth in sales of magnesium supplements and is expected to surpass the calcium supplement market by 2020.

Fun (scientific) facts

  • Magnesium (Mg) is an element that is found naturally in the earth, the sea, plants, animals, and humans. Magnesium is found mostly in bones and in muscles.
  • It is essential for metabolic pathways because cells make use of enzymes to oxidize nutrients – every cell in your body needs it to function.
  • The U.S. has around 65 metric tons of magnesium in natural magnesite deposits, 88 percent of which are in Nevada.

While supplements are a good way to get your daily dose of magnesium, natural food sources are highly recommended. Some sources of magnesium are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Black beans
  • Cashews
  • Chard
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Spinach

Magnesium when taken daily as recommended, will improve muscle movement, create more energy for your body to use, regulate your nervous and circulatory system, and maintain your genes.

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