Benefits From Magnesium Supplementation In Older Women
Life expectancy in the developed world is increasing steadily but health expectancy, or the number of years one can expect to live a healthy, productive, and independent life, has not kept up. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, however, suggests that older women can notice numerous benefits from magnesium by supplementing or adding magnesium-rich foods to their diet.
Research on the Benefits from Magnesium
Research on healthy aging is vital because an estimated 13% of the US population is over the age of 65, and that number is only expected to increase. As we age, we lose muscle, which limits both mobility and the ability to safely engage in everyday activities.
The study was conducted at the University of Padova in Italy and involved 124 participants with an average age of 71. At the beginning of the study, participants were given a series of tests to measure their balance, strength and walking speed. For the next 12 weeks, 53 of the women were given 300 mg of magnesium per day, while the others were given a placebo.
At the end of the study, the tests were repeated. The magnesium group had made substantial improvements in strength, balance and walking speed. Those who had been deficient in magnesium prior to the study made the most significant improvements.
The most notable difference was in walking speed. The women who received the magnesium improved their gait by nearly 40 feet per minute on average. Of all the tests given, gait speed is the one most often used to diagnose degenerative skeletal muscle loss, a condition known as sarcopenia, which is used to predict future adverse health events.
How Important are Benefits from Magnesium?
The National Institutes of Health says magnesium is critical for more than 300 different biochemical reactions, including normal muscle and nerve function, strengthening bones and teeth, stabilizing heart rhythm, maintaining normal blood sugar, and regulating blood pressure. No other mineral is responsible for as many different functions as magnesium, but some estimates suggest that nearly 80% of the US population is deficient in this vital nutrient.
“These findings suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance, particularly in magnesium-deficient individuals,” wrote the researchers. “Further research is needed to understand the influence of magnesium supplementation on physical performance in elderly people with different magnesium concentrations.”
To get more magnesium in your diet, nutritionists recommend cutting back on refined grains and processed foods, and eating more leafy green vegetables, along with beans and lentils. Magnesium supplements can help, but dietary magnesium is generally easier absorbed and used by the body.
Sufficient levels of magnesium in the body is important in fighting symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome as well. Loss of muscle tone is one of the subtle symptoms of this condition. Older women would be more affected by this loss due to low magnesium levels in their bodies. Supplementing with magnesium will counter the effects of adrenal fatigue as well as low magnesium due to age. Without this supplementation, symptoms of adrenal fatigue will only increase.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine often misses the subtle symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome due to the traditional model of looking at individual organs instead of overall organ systems. In the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) model, symptoms in the body are viewed as they relate to all organ systems together. Low magnesium levels would be considered in relation to the body’s inflammatory response to stress. Inflammation disrupts normal functioning of the musculoskeletal system which is affected by magnesium levels.
When considering supplementation for benefits from magnesium, it is important to also think about the level of calcium in the body. Magnesium and calcium act in a delicate balance in the muscle system. Calcium assists in contraction of muscles, while magnesium helps in relaxation of the same muscles. For proper muscle function, this balance must be maintained. However, most people operate with a deficit of magnesium in their bodies.
Also needing consideration is the possibility of too much magnesium in the body. Excessive magnesium usually triggers a harmless diarrhea. Reported side effects from magnesium, though uncommon, include abdominal cramping, upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea.
People with kidney disease or kidney failure are in danger of being unable to rid their bodies of excess magnesium through urination. Thus, caution should be exercised if kidney disorders are present.
Source: Women’s Health August 2014