Magnesium Helps Seniors Keep Muscles Strong

We generally think about muscle strength and performance as a matter of concern for athletes, weekend warriors, folks who work out and anyone just wanting to stay in shape. For seniors however, muscle health and strength is even more important as a health issue. With aging, everyone loses muscle mass and strength to one degree or another, especially as we become less active. Loss of muscle can lead to bone loss, increase the risk of injury and even impair immune function.

Can anything be done to put the brakes on muscle loss? Good nutrition is essential: for starters, adequate intakes of quality protein. Daily mineral intake is another imperative, with special attention to magnesium. It’s common knowledge that magnesium, along with calcium, is important for healthy bones. Magnesium is also required for muscles.

The value of magnesium as a nutritional factor for muscle strength in seniors is underscored in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The “INCHIANTI” study, which examined risk factors for late-life disability, found a direct relationship between low blood levels of magnesium and muscle performance in older subjects. Grip strength, lower leg muscle power, knee extension and ankle extension were significantly better in subjects with higher magnesium levels. In view of this, taking a magnesium supplement—a safe, low-cost nutritional strategy—is a good recommendation for seniors, especially when the daily diet lacks generous helpings of magnesium-rich foods.

Reference:
Dominguez LJ, et al. Magnesium and muscle performance in older persons: the InCHIANTI study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:419 –26.

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Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease — A Direct Link and a Health Tip

Magnesium is an essential mineral required in human nutrition. Among nutritional minerals, it’s also one of the most versatile: a broad range of physiologic processes depend on magnesium to function properly. A co-factor for more than 300 enzymatic reactions, magnesium plays a key role in generating metabolic energy in cells. Magnesium helps regulate the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels and muscles. It’s no mystery that the heart, the body’s hardest working muscle, needs magnesium. Magnesium also helps prevent calcification of blood vessels; in the heart this is known as Coronary Artery Calcification or “CAC.”

CAC, an indicator of advanced atherosclerosis, is seen as a predictor of cardiovascular disease. The Framingham Study, a long-term research study conducted by the USDA’s Human Nutrition Center on Aging, examined the magnesium intakes of people who were free of cardiovascular disease at the start, over a period of 11 years. “We observed strong, favorable associations between higher self-reported total (dietary and supplemental) magnesium intake and lower calcification of the coronary arteries,” the researchers reported. In study participants with the highest magnesium intakes, compared to those with the lowest, the odds of having CAC were 58 percent lower. The reports concludes as follows: “In community-dwelling participants free of cardiovascular disease, self-reported magnesium intake was inversely associated with arterial calcification, which may play a contributing role in magnesium’s protective associations in stroke and fatal coronary heart disease.”

So here’s an important health tip: If you’re not consuming an abundance of magnesium-rich foods on a daily basis, taking a magnesium supplement is a safe, low-cost way to make sure you’re adequately nourished with this potentially life-saving essential mineral.

Reference:
Hruby A, et al. Magnesium intake is inversely associated with coronary artery calcification: the Framingham Heart Study. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2014 Jan;7(1):59-69.

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Magnesium and Testosterone

A scientific review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology examined biological relationships between magnesium in the system and testosterone, using data from observational and intervention studies of male subjects. ”In particular, there is evidence that magnesium exerts a positive influence on anabolic hormonal status, including testosterone, in men,” the report states. Magnesium has an effect on Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) that increases the amount of bioavailable testosterone, commonly known as “free-T” in the bloodstream. There is also a connection between magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress, leading to low-grade inflammation, and these in turn can negatively impact T levels in men, according to the report.

Pointing out that “magnesium supplementation has been shown to have an apparent beneficial effect on male gonadal system, as observed in a very recent study performed on sexually mature male rats,” the report concludes by saying “Male individuals with impaired magnesium status and T deficiency (accurately assessed) could benefit from magnesium and/or T treatment targeting physical performance.”

Reference:
Maggio M, et al. The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men. Int J Endocrinol. 2014;2014:525249.

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Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 5: Magnesium

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 5: Magnesium

Next to calcium and phosphorus, magnesium is the third most important mineral in the human skeleton. The results of a study assessing the importance of magnesium for bone health found that higher intakes of this mineral from the diet and dietary supplements was a predictor of higher bone mineral density in white males and females.11 The large study assessed 2,038 men and women aged between 70 and 79 years of age. Again, no surprise: the density and strength of adult bones increases as daily magnesium intake increases.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 6: Boron

References:
11. Ryder KM, Shorr RI, Bush AJ, Kritchevsky SB, Harris T, Stone K, Cauley J, Tylavsky FA. Magnesium intake from food and supplements is associated with bone mineral density in healthy older white subjects.J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Nov;53(11):1875-80.

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Vitamins, Minerals and Normal Blood Glucose Regulation

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Vitamins, Minerals and Normal Blood Glucose Regulation

Chromium
Chromium is an absolutely vital cofactor that allows insulin to effectively stimulate the transfer of glucose from the blood into cells. The functions of chromium are so important that the US Food and Drug Administration has reviewed the evidence on chromium picolinate and allowed a qualified health claim on products containing this form of chromium stating that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance and therefore, may possibly reduce the risk of type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes.

Magnesium
In addition to chromium, adequate magnesium intake is required for maintenance of stable blood sugar levels. As dietary magnesium intake goes up, the efficiency of glucose storage by muscle cells increases. This principle was demonstrated in the results of a study published recently in which elevated magnesium status was associated with healthy blood sugar control in children.33 Of course, the healthier our blood sugar management is, the healthier we will be. The link between healthy magnesium nutrition and healthy blood glucose regulation is underscored by the results of analyses of the data obtained from the 85,060 female nurses participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, the 39,345 women participating in the Women’s Health Study and the 42,872 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study – those individuals who regularly consumed at least 400 mg of magnesium daily had significantly better blood sugar regulation in conjunction with their dietary practices.34,35

Vanadium
In addition to chromium and magnesium, the little-known trace mineral vanadium also plays important roles in supporting healthy blood sugar levels as a part of the diet. In humans, dietary supplementation with vanadium supports glucose metabolism in muscle cells – promoting normally healthy blood glucose regulation.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Vitamins, Minerals and the Immune System

References:
33. Huerta MG, Roemmich JN, Kington ML, Bovbjerg VE, Weltman AL, Holmes VF, Patrie JT, Rogol AD, Nadler JL. Magnesium deficiency is associated with insulin resistance in obese children. Diabetes Care 2005;28:1175-1181.
34. Song Y, Ridker PM, Manson JE, Cook NR, Buring JE, Liu S. Magnesium intake, C-reactive protein, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older U.S. women. Diabetes Care 2005;28:1438-1444.
35. Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care 2004;27:134-140.

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