August 14, 2006

Higher magnesium levels correlate with better muscle performance among older individuals

New findings from the InCHIANTI (Aging in the Chianti Area) study show that having a higher level of serum magnesium is associated with an increase in muscle performance, which commonly declines with age.

The InCHIANTI study is a prospective epidemiologic survey of 1,453 community residents of the Chianti area of Italy which sought to determine risk factors for late-life disability. In the current study, published in the August, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers in Italy and the U.S. analyzed information from 1,138 participants with data on serum magnesium levels and muscle performance as evaluated by grip strength, lower leg strength, knee extension torque, and ankle extension isometric strength.

Thirty percent of the men and women analyzed had deficient serum magnesium concentrations at less than 1.8 milligrams per deciliter. Serum magnesium levels were associated with all four measures of muscle performance, after adjustment for age, muscle area, and other factors. Participants in the top one-third of magnesium concentrations had significantly higher values for grip strength, knee extension torque and ankle extension strength than those whose values were in the lowest third third.

The importance of magnesium in energy metabolism, increased reactive species production resulting from magnesium deficiency, and a proinflammatory effect of reduced magnesium levels were submitted by the authors as possible explanations for their findings. They note that despite the ease of magnesium supplementation, a deficiency of the mineral is prevalent in Western populations. Supplementing with the mineral has been shown to benefit neuropsychiatric disorders, heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias, asthma, diabetes, and chronic fatigue. "Because magnesium supplementation is inexpensive and in general well tolerated, it should be a key consideration in older subjects at particular risk of magnesium deficiency," they write.