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Getting enough protects against developing osteoporosis in women. Getting enough magnesium protects against developing osteoporosis in men. Here are 10 reasons you should make sure you get your magnesium for healthier bones throughout your life.

If you want to avoid bone fractures caused by osteoporosis later in life, make sure you get enough magnesium.That's the clear message in a series of studies conducted in the United States and Europe:

  • Italian and British scientists tracked 1577 men and 2017 in the American Osteoarthritis Initiative for eight years.; They found that men who got the most magnesium had a 53 percent lower risk of fractures than other men in the study. Women who got at least the recommended daily intake of magnesium had a 27 percent decrease in the rate of broken bones.
  • The UK Biobank cohort tracked 156,575 men and women aged 39 to 72. They found that Britons who got the most magnesium had stronger grip, higher bone mineral density, and lower body fat.
  • The (US) National Women's Health Initiative found a paradoxical relationship between magnesium and bone health in American women. The women who got the most magnesium had the highest mineral density in their bones, but they also had the most fractures. That was because women in the US who eat right also tend to be physically active.

How much magnesium is enough? Most of the studies found benefits in getting more than 400 mg of magnesium per day. They found increased risk of bone fractures from getting less than 200 mg of magnesium per day.

A simple way of getting enough magnesium is to take a supplement. Up to 600 mg of magnesium per day is helpful. More than that, and you just tend to get diarrhea. The more magnesium you take, the smaller the percentage that is absorbed. Excess magnesium attracts water and makes stools runny. Magnesium glycinate, magnesium-L-threonate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium orotate are more completely absorbed than magnesium oxide, magnesium chloridel and magnesium sulfate.  But it's more important that you get your magnesium every day than you buy the most expensive magnesium supplement on the market.

Here are 10 reasons you need your magnesium.

1. Magnesium plays a critical role in bone health

Your bone-building osteoblasts need magnesium to lay down the crystals that become the mineral content in your bones. Magnesium is essential to the regulation of parathryoid hormone (PTH), which removes calcium from bones into the bloodstream.

2. Magnesium is essential for the formation of cartilage

Cartilage helps hold your bones together, and cushions your joints. When magnesium is deficient, the enzymes that help build cartilage don't work.

3. Magnesium deficiency promotes inflammation

And inflammation increases the activity of osteoclast, the bone recycling cells, so that they get out of sync with the osteoblasts, the bone rebuilding cells. The net effect is loss of bone.

4. Magnesium is essential to the production of antioxidants

The body needs both oxidizing chemicals and antioxidants. However, when magnesium is deficient, antioxidant production is deficient, and the activity of the bone-destroying osteoclasts is stimulated while the activity of the bone-building osteoblasts is depressed.

5. Magnesium is essential to the bones' ability to use vitamin D

Children who are deficient in both magnesium and vitamin D sometimes achieve normal vitamin D levels just by getting enough magnesium.

6. Magnesium is protective against bone damage in diabetics

Diabetics often develop circulatory problems in the legs and feet which impact bone by depriving it of blood vessels. Keeping magnesium levels high helps bones build the circulation they need to keep from becoming a casualty of diabetic vascular disease and neuropathy.

7. Magnesium supplementation is part of a nutritional program to treat dysmenorrhea

Restoration of normal menstrual periods helps women's bodies to make the estrogen necessary to maintain healthy bone before, during, and after menopause.

8. Magnesium supplements and foods that are high in magnesium tend to be 'alkalizing'

The body does not actually become acidic when we eat too many protein foods and not enough fruits and vegetables, but the kidneys may rob calcium from the bones to maintain a healthy pH for the bloodstream. Eating foods like spinach, tofu, almonds, dark chocolate, avocados, bananas, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), chard, edamame, and oily cold-water fish, as well as taking magnesium supplements help to "alkalize" the body and protect the mineral matrix of bone.

9. Magnesium helps bones make smaller crystals

Mineral crystals in the bones of women who are magnesium-deficient are larger. Mineral crystals in the bones of women who get enough magnesium are smaller, and stronger. Larger bone crystals do not bear as much weight as smaller. In bone crystallization, smaller is better, and magnesium favors small crystals in the mineral matrix of bone.

And, on a purely practical note...

10. Getting enough magnesium helps you stay regular

Osteoporosis of the hip can make straining at bowel movement very painful. And the muscle relaxants the doctor prescribes to help the leg straighten out make the problem worse. Magnesium helps you stay regular.

You need about half as many milligrams of magnesium per day as you get in calcium from food and supplements. Although the benefits of increased bone mineral density may be offset by greater activity as you feel good, get out, and enjoy your life, you will recover faster when you get enough magnesium among other bone nutrients.

  • Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, Maier JA. Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients. 2013 Jul 31
  • 5(8):3022-33. doi: 10.3390/nu5083022. Review. PMID: 23912329.
  • Veronese N, Stubbs B, Solmi M, Noale M, Vaona A, Demurtas J, Maggi S. Dietary magnesium intake and fracture risk: data from a large prospective study. Br J Nutr. 2017 Jun.117(11):1570-1576. doi: 10.1017/S0007114517001350. Epub 2017 Jun 20.PMID: 28631583.
  • Welch AA, Skinner J, Hickson M. Dietary Magnesium May Be Protective for Aging of Bone and Skeletal Muscle in Middle and Younger Older Age Men and Women: Cross-Sectional Findings from the UK Biobank Cohort. Nutrients. 2017 Oct 30.9(11). pii: E1189. doi: 10.3390/nu9111189. PMID: 29084183.
  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth

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