MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Setor Kunutsor Ba(Legon), MBChB(Legon), MA(Cantab), PhD(Cantab)
Musculoskeletal Research Unit
University of Bristol
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Bone fractures are one of the leading causes of disability and ill health especially among the ageing population and are a burden to health care systems. There is established evidence that calcium and vitamin D play an important role in bone health.
Magnesium is an essential trace element, being the second most abundant intracellular cation after potassium and the fourth most abundant cation in the body. It serves several important functions in the body, which include protein synthesis, nucleic acid synthesis, enzymatic reactions, and has also been shown to be cardio-protective. It is also an important component of bone, with majority (67 percent) of total body magnesium known to be found in the bone tissue. There have been suggestions from both human and animal experiments that magnesium may have a beneficial effect on bone health; however, its relationship with fractures is not very certain.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We measured baseline blood levels of magnesium and assessed dietary intakes of magnesium in 2,245 middle-aged Finnish men and followed them over a 20-year period for their risk of fractures. Our findings showed that men with lower blood levels of magnesium had an increased risk of fractures, particularly fractures of the hip. The risk of having a fracture was reduced by 44 percent in men with higher blood levels of magnesium. For hip fractures, the risk was reduced by 53 percent. None of the 22 men who had magnesium levels above the reference range (> 2.3 mg/dl) experienced a fracture during the follow-up period. In the same study, dietary magnesium intake was not found to be linked with the risk of fractures; a finding that has been consistently demonstrated in several previous studies.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The findings do suggest that avoiding low blood concentrations of magnesium may be a promising strategy for risk prevention of fractures. Although blood magnesium concentrations mainly depend on magnesium intake from food and water; this may not be the case for the elderly, people with certain malabsorption syndromes, and those on certain medications such as water tablets. For such people, increasing the intake of foods rich in magnesium may not necessarily increase blood magnesium levels, as magnesium may not be absorbed well or there is increased loss through the urine or gastrointestinal system. Treating the underlying conditions and magnesium supplementation may be another way of avoiding low blood levels of magnesium.
These new findings may have public health implications as low blood levels of magnesium are very common in the population, especially among elderly individuals who are also prone to fractures. Majority of individuals do not experience any symptoms associated with low blood levels of magnesium. Since blood magnesium levels are not measured routinely in the hospital, individuals with low levels are very difficult to identify. These findings could help trigger initiatives to include blood magnesium screening in routine blood panels, especially for the elderly.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Majority of people do not get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium from their food or drinking water sources. Drinking water contributes just about 10 percent of the RDA. Magnesium supplementation may also be another way of increasing blood levels of magnesium for such people. Well-designed magnesium supplementation trials are needed to investigate these potential therapeutic implications.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: While calcium and vitamin D are important for bone health, magnesium is also a vital nutrient. Elderly people who are prone to fractures should make an effort to get their blood levels of these nutrients checked.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Setor Kwadzo Kunutsor, Michael Richard Whitehouse, Ashley William Blom, Jari Antero Laukkanen. Low serum magnesium levels are associated with increased risk of fractures: a long-term prospective cohort study. European Journal of Epidemiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s10654-017-0242-2
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