A recently published study from the University of East Anglia found a direct link between physical strength in older people and the amount of magnesium present in their muscle tissue with 16 per cent of over 65’s getting less than the recommended daily intake of 270 mg according to data from Public Health England.
The study also showed that women are more at risk of muscle weakness than men as they have worse rates of magnesium deficiency. The discovery of a link between muscle power in older people and the magnesium content of their muscles was made with a scanning technique called ‘magnetic resonance spectroscopy’ (MRS) used to detect magnesium molecules. A four year study of ageing using data from some 500,000 people aged 40 to 60 has shown that those who had the highest magnesium intakes had significantly bigger and stronger muscles than those with the least.
‘The fact is, everyone’s muscles gradually shrink and lose power’ says Ailsa Welsh, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of East Anglia ‘but it is likely that extra magnesium may be shown to help halt muscle loss’ Originally it was thought that this deficiency might be related to the menopause but it is now shown that younger women have lower magnesium levels than men of the same age.
Magnesium is found in beans, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetable, fish, meat and dairy yet our magnesium intake has declined due to our increasing reliance on processed foods as well as falling levels of nutrients in soil. ‘Decades of intensive farming has depleted soil nutrient levels making it harder to maintain healthy levels of magnesium’ says Robert Pickard, an emeritus professor at Cardiff University. ‘It is definitely a worrying trend’.
Members who are aware of muscle weakness following at least three months of regular resistance exercise, should discuss the benefits of a magnesium supplement with their GP.