Is Magnesium Deficiency a Risk Factor for Fraility?

Magnesium deficiency is considered to be on the rise. Our diets are changing so that we are eating less magnesium rich foods. For those of us who do eat foods that historically contain significant amounts of magnesium then farming methods/soil depletion result in lower levels of magnesium in these foods.

However, a deficiency of magnesium can be undiagnosed for many years, particularly in the younger and middle-aged age groups. But for the geriatric population then the health conditions associated with low levels of magnesium may be more visible. One such condition that may be associated with low levels of magnesium is frailty which is clinically recognised by weakness, low levels of physical activity, unintended weight loss and unexplained fatigue.


A recent research study (1) looked to determine whether there was any connection between dietary magnesium intake and frailty, in particularly whether low levels of dietary magnesium is a risk factor for frailty.

The study, conducted by the Ambulatory of Clinical Nutrition Research Hospital, looked at older adults over an eight year period. Over 4000 people were included in the study and the ages ranged from 45 to 79 years old. Magnesium intake was assessed from a questionnaire and the participants were designated as being either equal to or greater than the Recommended Daily Allowance or consuming a lower level of magnesium. (RDA for men is around 410/day and for women it is around 315 mg/day).

The study ascertained that during the eight-year period, 120 men and 242 women acquired a frail condition. Those in the higher baseline level of magnesium group, interestingly intake was found to be allied with a lower risk of frailty in men, but not in women.

The risk of frailty in men reaching the Recommended Daily Allowance was around half. In addition the rate of frailty rates decreased by approximately 20% for each 100 mg increase in dietary magnesium. Again there were no findings of this relationship among the female participants.

The authors conclude that their data indicates that higher dietary magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of frailty in males, but not in women, suggesting that there may be differences between the genders in this particular association. They add that further studies are required to determine whether magnesium supplementation may be lead to lower rates of frailty in the older population group.

(1) Dietary Magnesium and Incident Frailty in Older People at Risk for Knee Osteoarthritis: An Eight-Year Longitudinal Study.
Veronese N1,2,3, et al.
Nutrients. 2017 Nov 16;9(11). pii: E1253.

8 Reasons to Take Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium supplements

Magnesium deficiency is probably more common in Western societies than you make think. The magnesium that we require for many varied functions in the body would normally be sourced from food. Yet the soil that our food comes from is reportedly becoming more and more depleted in magnesium.

Magnesium is required for such issues as

– uncontrolled diabetes

– some heart conditions

– kidney problems

– bone strength

– the endocrine system and so on.

If you think that you may be deficient then it may be worth chatting to your doctor to see whether it may be appropriate for you to consider taking a magnesium test. If the result indicate that you may be suffering from low magnesium then taking magnesium supplements could well be the way for you to go.

8 reasons why people take magnesium

    1. Improved exercise and athletic performance. A magnesium deficiency can limit your athletic performance and constrain your recovery from strenuous exercise.
    2. Augments the strength and integrity of your bones. If you are lacking in magnesium in your diet then there is a chance that you may suffer from bone weakening. Magnesium reportedly stimulates the production of calcitonin that regulates calcium levels and is important for the building of bone.
    3. Improved sleep quality.  There has been research that indicates that magnesium may influence some receptors in the brain. Without sufficient magnesium it is possible that we may remain in a hyperactive state with our minds racing as we try to rest.  An alternative is that a magnesium deficiency impacts on muscle relaxation during sleep. (
    4. Relaxes and calms the nervous system. Inadequate magnesium may be correlated with reduced levels of serotonin which significantly impacts on our mood and general state of wellbeing.
    5. Maintains good cardiovascular health. Studies have implied that people who have a magnesium deficiency are potentially at a greater risk of suffering heart attacks and or being affected by coronary artery disease. Some researchers have suggested that magnesium supplements may reduce cholesterol levels by up to 25%.
    6. Required for good dental health. Typically around 60% of the body’s magnesium supply is stored in the bones and the teeth. If you are deficient then there is a chance that magnesium may be leached from bones and teeth to go to where the body feels it may be required.
    7. Reduced risk of cramping. Whilst the mechanisms and causes for cramping are not fully understood, there is at least some anecdotal evidence that lacking in magnesium can increase the risk of suffering from cramps. This may be of particular relevance during pregnancy.
    8. Increases levels of free testosterone. Taking magnesium supplements has been shown to increase testosterone levels by around 20%.


Signs of Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency


All cells in our bodies require magnesium in order to function. Magnesium is required for our bones and teeth, a functioning enzyme system in addition to both the nervous and cardiovascular systems.  However, it is generally accepted that the levels of magnesium present in our food has decreased because of depletion in the soil owing to modern farming methods.

Hence there is an ever increasing risk of insufficient magnesium in our diet leading to magnesium deficiency.

But what are some of the signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency?

In order to answer this question then it must be pointed out that some of the following symptoms are not uniquely the result of a magnesium deficiency which can make an accurate diagnosis challenging at times. In addition, it can often be misdiagnosed by blood tests as only a small proportion of the magnesium in the body is stored in the blood.

Some of the first symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can be quite subtle and cramping and/or muscle twitches are commonly cited. Other preliminary indicators of a possible deficiency include a loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness. Other behavioural traits such as irritability, anxiety, depression and problems with sleeping may be pointers that someone is magnesium deficient.

A more advanced deficiency could manifest itself through numbness or tingling in the limbs, seizures or migraines. It can affect the cardiovascular health by means of either an irregular or a rapid heartbeat or even coronary spasms. Neurological signs include muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, tremors or tics.

A long term low inadequate level of magnesium in the diet can result in bone weakness as, in conjunction with calcium, it is necessary to provide both strength and flexibility in your bones.

If you think that there is a possibility that you are lacking magnesium in your diet then please consult your doctor before taking any magnesium supplements.


Magnesium Supplements and Hot Flashes

Hot Flashes and Magnesium Supplements

Hot flashes – guarantee to send a shiver up every woman’s spine (well maybe not a shiver…). Symptoms of hot flashes include perspiration, flushing of the skin and a feeling of warmth spreading throughout the body, particularly in the head and neck.  Many women describe a feeling of just wanting to shed their clothes as they are drenched with sweat. Afterwards you can feel cold as the flash subsides. For some women hot flashes can occur randomly, others experience them more regularly.

The reason behind the hot flashes is suppression of key hormones, in particular oestrogen.   With lower levels then blood vessels in the body can dilate, leading to an increase in blood flow (and with it heat), particularly through the upper part of the body.

Probably the most common remedy for hot flashes is oestrogen replacement which needs to be prescribed by a physician or general practitioner. However, there are some risks and side effects associated with oestrogen replacement such as the risk of blood clots and strokes. Many women look for natural remedies for hot flashes and there are a number of candidates that are often discussed such as phytoestrogens and vitamin E.

Some women have noticed that when they have been taking magnesium supplements for reasons other than hot flashes that their hot flash symptoms reduced significantly (and often within a relatively short time) and a recent study has suggested that magnesium supplements my help relieve the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women who have breast cancer.

In the study (1)were around 20 women who were breast cancer patients. They were given various dosages of magnesium oxide supplementation for 4 weeks. They kept a diary regarding episodes of hot flashes and also given various questionnaires as a means of assessing how effectiveness of the supplementation .

Although the study was a small-scale study, the results were encouraging as the frequency and the severity of hot flashes decreased significantly. Symptoms such as fatigue, stress and sweating were recorded by the women as being appreciably lower.

The researchers hypothesised in the study that the magnesium may cause blood vessels in the body may become more stable (and hence less likely to dilate) or alternatively there was some interaction between the magnesium and the central nervous system.

If you are thinking about taking magnesium supplements for any reason including hot flashes then you should discuss whether it is appropriate for your particular circumstances with your doctor. As magnesium supplements may interact with other medications, then your doctor will be best placed to assess what level (if any) of supplementation you should take.

(1). Park H, Parker GL et at. “A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients”. Support Care Cancer. 2011; 19(6): 859-863