Dietary intake magnesium, and not dietary calcium, may be the key to developing healthy bones during childhood, according to new research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in the USA.
The new data from Professor Steven Abrams and his colleagues at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston finds that intake and absorption of magnesium during childhood are key predictors of total bone mineral content and bone density - while dietary calcium intake was not significantly associated with such measures.
"Dietary magnesium intake may be an important, relatively unrecognised, factor in bone mineral accretion in children," the researchers revealed.
"Lots of nutrients are key for children to have healthy bones. One of these appears to be magnesium," said Abrams. "Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium."
The researchers noted that parents have been long advised to ensure their child has a good intake of calcium in order to help build strong and healthy bones. However, the importance of other minerals essential for bone health, such as magnesium, have not been so well promoted.
Abrams and his team suggested that it may soon be the case that parents are urged to ensure their children also consume enough magnesium.