Are you getting enough magnesium?
Your bones and muscles will thank you if you are.
Getting enough magnesium in the diet has been shown to be associated with significant improvements in bone and muscle health, a new study out of the University of East Anglia in the UK has found. 1
Researchers analysed the relationship between dietary magnesium and bone and skeletal muscle in over 150,000 men and women between the ages of 32 and 72 years. They found a clear relationship between higher magnesium intake and improvements in a range of measures including decreased muscular weakness (demonstrated by improved grip strength and muscle mass) and improved bone mineral density.
Why is this mineral important?
Magnesium is an essential macromineral involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions. These include energy production, nerve function, DNA and protein synthesis, as well as muscle contraction and the structural integrity of bones.2
In middle and older ages, our bones and muscles weaken and we become more at risk of falls, frailty, loss of muscle mass and strength, and fractures. And whilst exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, is vital to support bone and muscle health, what we eat directly impacts the health of all our tissues, including bone and muscle.
Magnesium is found in a diverse array of plant and animal foods. Most green vegetables, especially leafy veg; legumes, peas, beans and nuts are rich sources, as are some shellfish and spices. Most unrefined cereals provide a moderate amount, but highly refined foods, including flours, fruits, oils and fats contribute little. 3
Do Australians get enough?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports there is a high prevalence of inadequate magnesium intake in our population. In a 2011-12 survey, one in three people aged over two years did get enough in their diets. Inadequate intake was most likely in those over nine years old, with 61% of boys and young men aged 14 to 18 years consuming less than their requirements, and 72% of girls of the same age. 4
What does this mean for you and me?
The authors of the study concluded that it is likely to be important to consume sufficient magnesium as well as protein for the health of skeletal muscle, and calcium for bones.
We know our population is ageing, but we also know they want to remain healthy and active to a ripe old age. Getting enough dietary magnesium is important for musculoskeletal health and plays an important role in maintaining health in the Australian population.
- Welch, A., et al. (2017). "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." Nutrients 9(11): 1189.
- Oregon State University 2017. Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center
- Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, National Health and Medical Research Council 2015. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015. Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12
written by Sarah Culverhouse, Head of Technical and Training at Fusion Health