Magnesium is the 4th abundant mineral in the body which is involved in more than 300 processes, is also important for bone health. Bones are reservoirs for Magnesium stores and approximately 60% of the total body magnesium is in the bones. Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining bone mineral density which makes the bones strong and healthy. Magnesium is essential to prevent osteoporosis a condition in which there is bone loss making the bones soft and weak leading to falls and fracture.
Magnesium levels should be adequately maintained in the body in order to have healthy bones and teeth. To increase Magnesium intake in the body for improving bone health, foods rich in Magnesium can be added to the diet, and Magnesium supplements can also be taken. As there is a positive association between Magnesium intake and bone mineral density Magnesium supplements are being used for healthy and strong bones.
How Does Magnesium Affect Bone Health?
- Bones contain about half of the body’s Magnesium and are necessary for the formation of bones and teeth.
- Though Calcium is thought to be important for bones and teeth, most people are not aware that Magnesium is also an essential micronutrient and an important mineral for bones.
- Magnesium that is stored in bones as reserves contribute to bone stabilization, bone growth, and bone mineralization.
- Magnesium improves bone health both directly and indirectly. It regulates Calcium and Vitamin D levels that are vital nutrients for healthier and strong bones.
- Magnesium and Vitamin D are known biofactors responsible for bone synthesis and when deficit can lead to bone loss which affects the bones.
- Magnesium helps in converting Vitamin D to its active form which helps in Calcium absorption into bones. Calcium constitutes around 90% of the bone and maintains the bones strong and healthy.
- Magnesium plays an important role in bone building and stabilizing bone functions.
- Deficiency of Magnesium can cause bone loss, a condition known as osteoporosis where the bones have less bone density due to resorption of Calcium from bones, which makes the bones break easily (fractures)
- Magnesium helps to get back the Calcium into the bones improving the bone density reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Hence Magnesium, Calcium, and Vitamin D benefit the levels are to be maintained in enough levels for healthy and strong bones and teeth.
Which Persons Are Prone to Develop Magnesium Deficiency and Osteoporosis?
Low levels of Magnesium are known to affect bone health and worsen osteoporosis. People at risk of developing osteoporosis are:
- The older age group of people develop Magnesium deficiency due to poor diet or poor absorption, can develop osteoporosis and older women are more prone than men to develop osteoporosis due to deficiency of estrogen hormone.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus persons can develop Magnesium deficiency due to insulin resistance which increases the risk for osteoporosis.
- Hyperthyroidism can cause low levels of Magnesium and make them prone to develop osteoporosis.
- Persons suffering from gastrointestinal diseases like coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease or chronic liver disease can develop Magnesium deficiency and osteoporosis.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol for the long term can cause liver damage and decrease Magnesium levels which affect bone health.
- Persons on medications such as steroids are prone to develop bone loss and a decrease in bone density.
- Those on an unhealthy diet with magnesium deficit foods like fast foods or processed foods can have low levels of Magnesium which can make them prone to poor bone health.
- Those who have a lack of physical activity or exercise, stress, and poor sleep are associated with low levels of Magnesium and make them prone to early osteoporosis.
How Does Magnesium Deficiency Affect the Bones?
- Magnesium deficiency affects bone growth, decreases bone mineral density, and affects bone functions.
- When Magnesium levels are low in the blood, the body draws Magnesium from bones that have reserves of the mineral, thereby weakening the bone and bone functions.
- Low Magnesium levels decrease the absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D, acting indirectly on bone growth and bone loss, which can adversely affect bone health.
- Magnesium affects the bone cells (osteoblasts and osteoclasts) that the body needs for bone growth and repair. The deficiency of Magnesium can affect the bone structure and size and impairs bone growth.
- Magnesium deficiency can be associated with low levels of Parathormone and active forms of Vitamin D, which are necessary for bone stabilization.
- The increase of inflammatory proteins (cytokines) which affect bone modeling may be due to low levels of Magnesium.
- Magnesium deficiency can affect the blood vessels which can cause a decrease in blood supply to bones, affecting bone health.
What Are the Sources of Magnesium?
- Magnesium can be provided to the body through diet and dietary supplements.
- Magnesium can be taken daily as per the recommended doses. The daily recommended dose of elemental Magnesium intake for men is 400-420 mg per day, and for women is 310-320 mg per day.
- Foods that are rich in Magnesium are:
- Whole grains-Rye, Brown rice, wheat bran.
- Nuts – Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Brazil nuts.
- Seeds – Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds.
- Legumes like beans and sprouts.
- Seaweed and mineral water.
- Dark chocolates contain a good amount of Magnesium.
- Milk, yogurt, and Tofu.
- Soy products, Halibut are proteins with high Magnesium.
- Dark green vegetables such as spinach.
- Fruits like Apples, Bananas, Apricots, Avocados, Pears.
- Magnesium Supplements are available in various forms as oral preparations and topical preparations. They can be taken as per the need. Magnesium is an essential micronutrient that is neglected due to unawareness of its health benefits.
- Magnesium supplements are advised for those healthy individuals who cannot get enough magnesium from the diet, for those who are under stress, for those suffering from medical conditions such as chronic liver disease or bowel diseases, or diabetes, for pregnant women, and for those who do strenuous exercise.
What Are the Side Effects of Excess Magnesium?
Magnesium is always safe when taken in recommended doses. Sometimes Magnesium intake can cause certain side effects which you should know, such as:
- Abdominal cramps
- Do not increase the dose or take it more often than prescribed or directed by your physician. If symptoms persist consult your doctor or pharmacist.
- Magnesium can interact with certain medications like antibiotics, antacids, laxatives, and other medicines, hence consult a doctor before use.
Magnesium is an essential micronutrient for maintaining healthy and strong bones. Just having a good calcium intake is not enough. Magnesium can be taken daily in the recommended dose, naturally through diet or as dietary supplements according to the need.
Magnesium deficiency once diagnosed should be corrected immediately by using supplements and foods rich in Magnesium, for proper bone growth and bone function. Magnesium intake is important to maintain enough Magnesium levels in the body for proper absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D, which help promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis.