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New Study Demonstrates Magnesium’s Role in Fracture Prevention

Magnesium for bone fractures

A new study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology has indicated a potential benefit to prescribing magnesium for bone fractures. Researchers identified an association between low serum magnesium levels and an increased risk of fracture. Most patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia who want to optimise their bone health are told by their traditional doctor to take calcium and vitamin D supplementation- yet most never recommend magnesium to their patients.

Alternative and integrative practitioners on the other hand recognize the essential role of magnesium in several cellular processes including it being a major component in bone (50%).

Magnesium for bone fractures- a consideration in middle aged and elderly

Bone fractures are one of the leading causes of disability especially among the elderly. It is well-known that calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K and trace minerals all play an important role in bone health.

In this new study researchers followed 2245 middle-aged men over a 20 year period. They found that men with lower serum magnesium levels had an increased risk of fractures specifically fractures of the hip. The risk of having a fracture was reduced by 44% in men with higher blood levels of magnesium. None of the 22 men who had very high magnesium levels (> 2.3 mg/dl) had a fracture during the follow-up period.

The problem with measuring magnesium

Unfortunately we do not have a great way to measure magnesium status. For example, serum magnesium, which was used in this study, represents only 1% of magnesium stores, so if this is low a severe deficiency exists. Magnesium is homeostatically controlled in the serum and measuring serum magnesium levels provides many false negatives. By the time serum magnesium is low the patient is very deficient as the body cannot maintain the serum levels. Red blood cell magnesium is definitely a better choice and can be routinely assessed by most labs. Its interesting to see that a vast majority of patients are deficient.

As a result of this study these findings confirm the importance of assessing and addressing magnesium status in all patients in particular those at an increased risk of fractures.

Why magnesium supplementation may be necessary for some

RBC levels of magnesium do correlate with magnesium intake; however this may not be the case for the elderly those with specific GI conditions and those on certain medications. In these individuals increasing the intake of foods rich in magnesium may not increase their blood magnesium levels. It is important to address any underlying issues and suggest appropriate magnesium supplementation.

Research and References

By Designs for Health USA researcher and writer Michael Jurgelewicz DC DACBN DCBCN

Source: Setor Kwadzo Kunutsor Michael Richard Whitehouse Ashley William Blom Jari Antero Laukkanen. Low serum magnesium levels are associated with increased risk of fractures: a long-term prospective cohort study. European Journal of Epidemiology 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s10654-017-0242-2

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