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Time to Bone Up on Magnesium

Most people know that calcium is important for having strong, healthy bones and teeth.  What's less well-known is the importance another mineral, magnesium, plays in having strong bones.  A recent study found that magnesium may be just as important as calcium with regard to bone mineral density, and that it can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in the elderly.

In this study, more than 2,000 men and women between the ages of 70 and 79 filled out food questionnaires and forms that tracked their intake of magnesium, either through food or from supplements.  Researchers also measured bone mineral density (BMD) in each person, along with other information, such as physical activity levels and body mass index.

After analyzing the data, the researchers were able to establish a link between magnesium intake and increased BMD.  For every 100 milligram per day increase in magnesium intake, there was an approximate 2 percent increase in BMD throughout the body.  However, this effect appeared to occur in white, but not black, men and women; the authors of the study suggested that differences in calcium regulation or responses to nutrients in milk might be responsible for the results.

An interesting side-note to this study is that only 26 percent of the people surveyed actually consumed the recommended daily allowance for magnesium (320 milligrams per day for women aged 70 and older; 420 milligrams per day for men).  Doctors of chiropractic who treat elderly patients can recommend certain foods and supplements that are high in magnesium, which can increase BMD while reducing the risk of osteoporosis.  For more information, visit

Ryder KM, Shorr RI, Bush AJ, et al. Magnesium intake from food and supplements is associated with bone mineral density in healthy older white subjects. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, November 2005;52(11):1875-1880.