News article

Magnesium Supplements May Boost Physical Performance For Older Women: RCT

Posted:  Friday, August 01, 2014

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in hundreds of reactions in the human body. Low magnesium levels may affect exercise performance. Some experts suspect that magnesium levels may not be adequate in many people, especially athletes. Many female athletes do not get enough magnesium from the diet, and magnesium is also lost in the urine with exercise.

Elderly people tend to be less physically able than younger ones. Walking speed, for instance, and the speed with which they rise from a chair, tend to decline in later life. There can be many reasons for this, including loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia). But the strength of functionality of muscles (irrespective of their size) is also important, and certain nutrients play a particular role here, including magnesium.

Daily supplementation with magnesium oxide in combination with a mild fitness program may boost the physical performance of healthy older women, says a new study. Data from 124 women with an average age of 71.5 indicated that 300 milligrams per day of magnesium improved gait speed and chair stand times.

“The improvement in gait speed was substantial: the treated group had a mean improvement of about 12 meters per minute vis-a-vis the baseline,” wrote researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists magnesium as being necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong.

In Europe, the difficult to please European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued positive opinions on magnesium and the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; electrolyte balance; normal energy-yielding metabolism; neurotransmission, and muscle contraction.

Despite the benefits it is reported that between 70% and 80% of the US population are not meeting their recommended intakes of magnesium.

Consumers and healthcare professionals are waking up to the issue, and magnesium supplement sales are on the rise. According to SPINS, US sales of magnesium supplements in natural (excluding Whole Foods) and conventional outlet (including Walmart) grew by almost 20% from 2011 to 2012, to be worth $67,875,702. Growth from 2010 to 2011 was 15%.

Study details

The new 12 week study, run by scientists from the University of Padova in Italy, included 53 women assigned to the magnesium group and 71 women assigned to the placebo group. Data from the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) indicated that the magnesium group had significantly improved total SPPB score, as well as improvements in chair stand times and 4 meter walking speeds, compared with the placebo.

In addition, the benefits were even more pronounced in the women who had dietary intakes of the mineral below the Recommended Dietary Allowance.

“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.”