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Supplemental magnesium improves physical performance in healthy older women

Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral important in the structure and the function of the human body and also as a cofactor for hundreds of enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body. Unfortunately, dietary surveys in the US continue to show that older people are particularly susceptible to magnesium deficiency for various reasons, including an inadequate dietary intake, reduced absorption, and greater losses in stools and urine. A poor magnesium status has been associated with reduced physical performance, but to date no trials have established a link between magnesium supplementation and physical performance in the elderly.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigators sought to determine whether oral magnesium supplementation could improve physical performance in healthy older women. 124 healthy women (average age: 71.5 years) attending a mild fitness program were randomly assigned into two groups: 54 women in the treatment group were given 300 mg/day of magnesium oxide for 12 weeks, and 77 in the control group received no placebo or intervention. The primary outcome was a change in the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB).

The scores for the SPPB did not differ between the two groups at baseline. After 12 weeks, the group taking magnesium had a significantly better total SPPB score than the controls. The treatment group also had a significantly better test score for chair stand times and 4 minute walking speeds. The improvements were more evident in women with dietary magnesium intakes below the RDA.

The findings of this study indicate that magnesium supplementation may play a role in delaying age-related decline in physical performance in healthy older women, especially if dietary intake is below recommended levels.

Nicola Veronese et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;100(3):974-81. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.080168.

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