Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Magnesium Deficiency Leads to Bone Loss

Adequate magnesium intake (350 to 400 mg/day) is vital for maintaining overall health. This mineral is involved in cell energy metabolism, nerve conduction, electrolyte balance, cell membrane integrity, and the function of over three hundred enzymes. Magnesium is also important for bone health. If you are deficient in magnesium (50 to 70% of people are thought to be deficient!), your production of calcitonin and parathyroid hormones for bone remodeling may be disturbed. Osteoblasts need magnesium to form new bone collagen during the remodeling process. Magnesium's effect on the bone resorbing osteoclasts is unknown but researchers recently found that they too are impacted by low magnesium levels. 

According to a study just published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, magnesium deficiency in mice increased osteoclast formation and hindered their activity.

My thoughts are that substance P, a neuropeptide involved in pain perception and mediating inflammation, and the inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha, are probably involved in this magnesium-deficiency-related increase in osteoclast formation. Magnesium deficiency leads to increases in substance P and TNF-alpha.

Common signs of low magnesium are: muscle tightness or spasms, muscle twitching, constipation,
hypertension, depression, muscle weakness, heart arrhythmias, irritability and skin hypersensitivity. I'm amazed at how many of my patients complain of these symptoms. Tight calf and lower back muscles abound! Simply having these patients increase their magnesium intake (vegetables, dried fruit such as prunes, nuts, seeds, and supplemental magnesium) often dramatically lowers their muscle tightness and pain.

Lab testing can help identify low magnesium levels. In addition to the direct assessment of magnesium through red blood cell analysis, low magnesium is also correlated with low serum calcium, low potassium, low 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, mildly elevated PTH, and increased hs-CRP.

Belluci, M.M., et al. 2013. Magnesium deficiency results in an increased formation of osteoclasts. J Nutr Biochem March 18 [Epub ahead of print].
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