Bone health is important because the skeleton we inhabit is responsible for our shape, stature and posture. Deteriorations in the skeleton over time then cause serious debilitation and result in problems with movement and posture. Osteoporosis is probably the most well known bone disorder. Osteoporosis is characterised by a general weakening of the skeleton in later life, particularly in women, due to the development of pores in the bone.
When it comes to bone, calcium is the most extensively researched mineral and is often the mineral most people associate with strong bones. Milk for example is a good source of calcium and is associated with bone health. However, bone is a complex tissue made up of a number of minerals and calcium is just one. In this regard magnesium is often neglected when thinking of bone health. In fact, magnesium plays a major role in the health and maintenance of the skeleton.
Magnesium And Bone Structure
Magnesium is pivotal in the formation of healthy bone. Deficiency of magnesium in the diet causes the hydroxyapatite crystals in bone to increase in size and regularity and this weakens the bone considerably. In contrast, higher intakes of magnesium increase the density of bone because they cause the formation of small dense irregular crystals. Adequate dietary magnesium is therefore necessary for the correct structural arrangement in bone.
Another interesting thing about magnesium is its ability to form magnesium salts in the blood. The salts are basic in pH and can act as buffers to acids. Acidic blood, a result of the typical Western diet, causes the release of minerals from bone in order to buffer the fall in pH. Over time this causes a decrease in the mineral density of the bone. Dietary magnesium prevents this because it spares the release of magnesium from bone, buffering the low pH and maintaining healthy bones.
Magnesium and Hormones
Magnesium is required as a cofactor in around 300 proteins in the body, including the hormones parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Both of these hormones are involved in the regulation of calcium. In this regard magnesium plays an important role in calcium metabolism and may influence bone remodeling through secondary mechanisms. Parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D act to increase plasma concentrations of calcium.
How Much Magnesium?
Magnesium is a macromineral which is required in gram amounts. Equal amounts of calcium and magnesium, roughly one gram per day are required by healthy adults. Research suggests that the Western diet does not supply enough dietary magnesium for good healthy. Generally it is difficult to obtain enough magnesium for foods unless traditional diets are consumed. Supplements can boost levels and should be considered for those who cannot get enough magnesium from their diet.