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Magnesium supplements may boost physical performance for older women: RCT

By Stephen Daniells+

21-Jul-2014
Last updated on 21-Jul-2014 at 16:12 GMT2014-07-21T16:12:49Z

Magnesium supplements may boost physical performance for older women: RCT

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 . “Like the improvement in total [Short Physical Performance Battery] score, this finding is important in clinical terms, because gait speed is the only item in the SPPB that can be used as a single variable for diagnosing sarcopenia (a condition involving a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass), because it is an independent predictor of adverse health events.”

‘Necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions’

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, to keeping heart rhythm steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. The mineral is also needed for blood sugar management, and healthy blood pressure.

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.

The improvements in gait speed are of clinical importance, said the researchers, because they are a potential measure for diagnosing sarcopenia

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.”

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.080168
“Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial”
Authors: N. Veronese, L. Berton, S. Carraro, F. Bolzetta, et al.

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