Friday, October 1, 2010

Osteoporosis and Magnesium

“One of the most important aspects of the disease
osteoporosis has been almost totally overlooked.
That aspect is the role played by magnesium.”
Dr. Lewis B. Barnett

It’s still common to hear the assumption about calcium’s ability to help prevent osteoporosis. The fact is that increasing magnesium intake increases bones density in the elderly and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
(Stendig-Lindberg G. Tepper R. Leichter I. Trabecular bone density in a two year controlled trial of peroral magnesium in osteoporosis. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel. Manges Res. 1993 Jun;6(2):155-63.)

“For every 100 mg per day increase in Mg, there was an approximate 2% increase in whole-body bone mineral density,” said Dr. Kathryn Ryder.
(Journal of the American Geriatric Society (November, Vol 53, No 11, pp 1875-1880).

Back in the 1950s, Dr. Barnett examined the bone content of healthy people and compared it with the content of people suffering from severe osteoporosis. He found that there was little difference among the calcium content of the bones of the individuals. The magnesium content in the bones of the healthy people, however, was 1.26%. That of the osteoporosis victims was 0.62% or slightly less than half.

Dr. Barnett first became interested in the role of magnesium in bones and osteoporosis in 1950. At that time he began a series of investigations in Hereford and Dallas, Texas. One purpose of the study was to find out why people in later years frequently have fractures of the cervical neck of the femur, and why in certain areas these heal with great difficulty. These fractures rarely occurred in the Hereford area but were common in Dallas.
When the fractures did occur in the Hereford area, at an average age of 82.5, the healing time was 8 weeks. In Dallas, the fractures occurred at the average of age 63, and, if they healed at all, took in the vicinity of 6.3 months.
Barnett analyzed the soil and water content of the two areas, and concluded the major factor in bone health was the mineral content of the water supply. Analysis of the water showed that the Hereford water contained only four parts per million of calcium while the Dallas water contained 23 p.p.m.

The one really outstanding difference was in the magnesium content of the two water supplies. The Dallas supply contained 8 p.p.m. of the mineral, while the Hereford water contained 16 p.p.m magnesium.

Barnett decided to analyze the bone content of people in Dallas and Hereford. He chose for his study 500 women, average age 55. All were his patients, undergoing lumbar and cervical vertebrae surgery. Except for slipped disks and related problems, they considered themselves healthy individuals.
More Magnesium, Stronger Bone
The findings bore out the results of the previous studies: the major difference was in the magnesium content of the bone. In the Dallas area where bone weakness was evident because of the high number of cases of osteoporosis, the magnesium content of bone was .05 percent; in Hereford, 1.76 percent.
'The mechanism whereby magnesium functions to strengthen bone and combat osteoporosis is, like many functions of the body, quite complex," Dr. Barnett explained. "Our studies, however, have convinced us that the mineral (magnesium) is important-perhaps the most important single element-in bone health."

The theory
behind it is that magnesium is needed, by the pituitary gland. This gland regulates all the other glands of the body, and to do this regulating it uses magnesium. This mineral acts as a sedative, counteracting the stimulant effect of the adrenal glands. These glands must be restrained in their production, or else their secretions will speed up the breaking down and resorption of bone tissue.
Another function of magnesium is to act as an enzyme or catalyst. In effect, it acts as the glue that binds calcium and fluorine to build bone. Thus, even though calcium and fluorine may be abundant in the diet, they cannot be used and are flushed out of the system unless the binding element, magnesium, is also present.

“PTH (Parathyroid hormone) draws calcium out of the bones and deposits it in the soft tissues, while calcitonin increases calcium in our bones and keeps it from being absorbed in our soft tissues. Because magnesium suppresses PTH and stimulates calcitonin it helps put calcium into our bones, preventing osteoporosis.”- Dr Kathryn Fuchs

Studies suggest that high calcium intake doesn’t actually appear to lower a person’s risk for osteoporosis.

“Magnesium taken in proper dosages can
solve the problem of calcium deficiency” - Dr. Nan Kathryn Fuchs

Even a mild degree of magnesium depletion significantly decreases the serum calcium concentration.
(Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride; Institute of Medicine; Falemi et al citation; 1997.
Principles of bone biology By John P. Bilezikian, Lawrence Gideon Raisz, Gideon A. Rodan,; Rude et al, 1976 cited; 2002.)

Medical authorities claim that the widespread incidence of osteoporosis and tooth decay in western countries can be prevented with a high calcium intake. However, Asian and African populations with a low intake (about 300 mg) of calcium daily have very little osteoporosis. Bantu women with an intake of 200 to 300 mg of calcium daily have the lowest incidence of osteoporosis in the world.

“Bones average about 1% phosphate of magnesium and. teeth about 1% phosphate of magnesium. Elephant tusks contain 2% of phosphate of magnesium and billiard balls made from these are almost indestructible. The teeth of carnivorous animals contain nearly 5% phosphate of magnesium and thus they are able to crush and grind the bones of their prey without difficulty,” wrote Otto Carque (1933) in Vital Facts About Foods.

Magnesium deficiency, not calcium deficiency, plays a key role in osteoporosis. It is no surprise when we find more studies suggesting that high Ca intake had no preventive effect on the alteration of bone metabolism in magnesium-deficient rats.
(Effects of high calcium intake on bone metabolism in magnesium-deficient rats.Magnes Res. 2005 Jun;18(2):97-102.

Not only severe but also moderate dietary restriction of magnesium results in qualitative changes in bones in rats.
(The effect of moderately and severely restricted dietary magnesium intakes on bone composition and bone metabolism in the rat.1999 Jul;82(1):63-71.

The results from some of these studies may be surprising to some. While we have no reason to question the importance of calcium in bone strength, we have plenty of reason to doubt the value of consuming large amounts of calcium as currently recommended for adults and young people alike.

Magnesium status is important for regulation of calcium balance through parathyroid hormone-mediated reactions.
(North Western University; Nutrition Fact Sheet:

Magnesium deficiency, not calcium deficiency, plays a key role in osteoporosis. With a low magnesium intake, calcium moves out of the bones to increase tissue levels, while a high magnesium intake causes calcium to move from the tissues into the bones. Thus high magnesium levels leads to bone mineralization.

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