Tuesday, July 29, 2014. An article published ahead of print on July 9, 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported findings from a trial involving healthy older women which associated improvements in physical performance with magnesium supplementation.
"Magnesium deficiency has proved capable of impairing exercise capacity and reducing physical performance," note authors Nicola Veronese of the University of Padova and her colleagues. "Magnesium depletion is also associated with an increased inflammatory state, muscle cell alterations attributable to increased oxidative stress, and impaired intracellular calcium homeostasis. All these factors negatively affect muscle mass and function and could exacerbate the sarcopenia typical of old age."
The study included 139 women aged 65 and older who attended a twice per week fitness program. Sixty-two participants were assigned to 300 milligrams (mg) magnesium per day (from 900 mg magnesium oxide) and 77 were given a placebo for twelve weeks. Gait speed, chair stands and standing balance evaluations, as well as strength assessments, were conducted at the beginning and end of the treatment period.
At the end of the trial, women who received magnesium experienced significantly higher serum and urinary magnesium levels, and greater improvement in walking speed and chair stand times in comparison with the control subjects.
The study is the first of its kind, to the authors' knowledge, to analyze the effect of magnesium supplementation on physical performance and strength in a population restricted to older individuals. "These findings suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance, particularly in magnesium-deficient individuals," they conclude. "Further research is needed to understand the influence of magnesium supplementation on physical performance in elderly people with different magnesium concentrations."