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Increased Magnesium Linked with Stronger Bones

A report published in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society revealed that individuals who consumed more dietary and supplemental magnesium had greater bone mineral density (BMD) than those whose intake of the mineral was lower.
Kathryn M. Ryder, MD, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and colleagues analyzed data from 2,038 men and women aged 70 to 79 enrolled in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. Magnesium intake was calculated via the use of food frequency questionnaires and medication inventories, and whole body bone mineral density was determined for all subjects.

Dr Ryder's team discovered that less than 26 percent of the subjects met the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, which is 320 milligrams per day for women and 420 milligrams per day for men of this age group. Bone mineral density was found to be greater in African-American men and women than among Caucasians. Magnesium intake was positively associated with bone mineral density only for Caucasian men and women. Among Caucasian men and women whose magnesium intake was in the top one-fifth of participants, bone mineral density was 0.02 and 0.04 grams per cubic centimeters greater than the BMD of those whose intake was lowest. For each 100 milligram daily increase in magnesium intake, there was a one percent gain in bone density, an effect similar to that of calcium. Dr Ryder commented, "Although this seems small, increases across a population may have large public health impact."

The authors suggest that magnesium could benefit bone mineral density via calciotropic hormones or by buffering the acidity produced by the typical Western diet. They conclude, "Higher magnesium intake through dietary change of supplementation may provide an additional strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis."


Kathryn M. Ryder, MD, MS*, Ronald I. Shorr, MD, MS, Andrew J. Bush, PhD, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, Tamara Harris, MD, MPH§, Katie Stone, PhD, Jane Cauley, DrPH¶, and Frances A. Tylavsky, DrPH. Magnesium Intake from Food and Supplements Is Associated with Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Older White Subjects. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Vol. 53 Issue 11 Page 1875 November 2005

Key concepts: magnesium, bone mineral density