Is Dietary Magnesium the Solution for Lowering the Risk of Frailty? – Medical News Bulletin

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An eight-year study investigated the effects of inadequate levels of dietary magnesium in older frail individuals.

Magnesium deficiency may go underdiagnosed in young and middle-aged adults for several years. However, in the older population, factors associated with poor nutrition such as frailty, make magnesium deficiency more detectable. Frailty is a clinical syndrome that is characterized by a state of weakness, unintentional weight loss, low physical activity, and exhaustion.With nutrition being one of its main risk factors, a diet sufficient in micronutrients is essential to reduce incidences of magnesium deficiency. A healthy diet consisting of modest amounts of micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and copper are required by the body for optimal muscle function and energy metabolism.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium intake is 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women, with intake of a multivitamin or supplement providing at least 100 mg/day. In practice, medical professionals stress the intake of dietary magnesium for aging individuals.Therefore, determining if low levels of dietary magnesium are associated with higher risk of frailty may provide an intervention for this clinical syndrome. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition examined the relationship between dietary magnesium intake and frailty in older adults over the course of eight years.

This study was conducted by the Ambulatory of Clinical Nutrition Research Hospital and obtained data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative database, which included 1,857 males and 2,564 females between 45 and 79 years old from North America. Magnesium intake was recorded by using a food-frequency questionnaire and categorized as greater than or equal to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in comparison to a lower intake of this micronutrient. Although 2,991 participants took a magnesium supplement, only 819reached the Recommended Daily Allowance. Throughout the eight-year follow-up, 120 men and 242 women developed a frail condition, and for those with a higher baseline of magnesium, intake was found to be associated with a lower risk of frailty in men, but not in women.

The risk of frailty in men reaching the Recommended Daily Allowance was reduced to nearly half and frailty rates decreased by around 22% for each100 mg increase in dietary magnesium. Unfortunately, there were not any significant findings of this association in the women participants. However, these findings prove good news for frail older North American men who consume an adequate amount of dietary magnesium.

Written by Viola Lanier, PhD, MSc

Reference: Veronese, Nicola, et al. “Dietary Magnesium and Incident Frailty in Older People at Risk for Knee Osteoarthritis: An Eight-Year Longitudinal Study.” Nutrients 9.11 (2017): 1253.



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