‘Clinical Significance’: Dietary magnesium linked to stronger muscle and bones

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / piotr_malczyk
© Getty Images / piotr_malczyk
Higher dietary intakes of magnesium may protect against age-related skeletal muscle and bone loss, says a new analysis of data from the UK Biobank cohort.

While the potential bone health benefits are well reported, the new study, published in Nutrients​, is reportedly the first to concurrently investigate the relationship between dietary magnesium and skeletal muscle and bone health.

“Our research has found positive associations between greater intakes of dietary Mg and grip strength, indices of skeletal muscle mass, and BMD in men and women in middle and older age groups,”​ wrote the reseachers. “These findings are of potential clinical significance when compared the annual losses of BMD and skeletal muscle with age.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest study to date to investigate dietary Mg with skeletal muscle, grip strength, and bone health in men and women independently. Our findings indicate that it is likely to be important to consume sufficient Mg as well as protein for the health of skeletal muscle, as well as calcium for bone.”

‘Necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions’

The results add to an ever growing body of science supporting the potential health benefits of the mineral. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists magnesium as being necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, to keeping heart rhythm steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. The mineral is also needed for blood sugar management and healthy blood pressure. 

The science and positive regulatory decisions have led to increased interest from consumers in magnesium and this has led to increasing sales. And with 70-80% of the US population not meeting their recommended intakes of magnesium, the market is expected to continue to grow. Indeed, some industry experts are predicting​ that magnesium sales in the nutrition market will surpass calcium by 2020.

Study details

The researchers, led by Ailsa Welch from the University of East Anglia (UK) analyzed data from 156,575 men and women aged between 39 and 72. Dietary magnesium intake was assessed using the Oxford WebQ, a computerized 24-hour recall questionnaire.

Results indicated that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were positively associated with increased grip strength, measures of skeletal muscle mass, and bone mineral density (BMD) in both men and women. Specifically, grip strength was 1.1% and 2.4% greater in the highest average intake group compared to the lowest for men and women, respectively. In addition, free fat mass as a percentage of body weight (FFM%) was 3.0% and 3.6% greater in the highest average intake group compared to the lowest for men and women, respectively.

Bone mineral density was 2.9% and 0.9% greater for the highest versus lowest average magnesium intakes for men and women, respectively.

“These associations are as great or greater than annual measured losses of these musculoskeletal outcomes, indicating potential clinical significance,” ​wrote Welch and her co-workers. “Our study suggests that dietary magnesium may play a role in musculoskeletal health and has relevance for population prevention strategies for sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures.”

Source: Nutrients
2017, 9​(11), 1189; doi:10.3390/nu9111189
“Dietary Magnesium May Be Protective for Aging of Bone and Skeletal Muscle in Middle and Younger Older Age Men and Women: Cross-Sectional Findings from the UK Biobank Cohort”
Authors: A.A. Welch et al. 

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