Tag Archives: magnesium citrate

Magnesium supplementation boosts physical performance in older women

A new study published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that magnesium supplementation can improve physical performance in older women (1).

Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance
“Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance”

A focus on healthy ageing is paramount because the UK population is getting older. Currently one-in-six of the UK population is aged 65 and over. By 2050, this number will reach one-in-four. Life expectance is steadily increasing. Unfortunately ‘healthy life expectancy’, or years free from disability, is not increasing at the same rate (2). Good nutrition is a critical component of healthy ageing, allowing us to take charge of our health and remain fit and independent in later life.

This particular study tested the effect of magnesium on older women’s ability to carry out everyday functional movements such as lifting and carrying, alongside other measures of strength and balance.

The researchers studied a group of 139 healthy women with an average age of 71. Each of the women underwent a gentle 12-week exercise programme. While half of the women were given a placebo pill, the remainder of the group were given a daily magnesium supplement.

At the beginning and end of the study, each of the participants were tested for measures of physical performance. Simple functional movements, such as getting out of a chair and balancing tasks, were assessed. Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance.

The magnesium group also made ‘substantial’ improvements in walking speed compared to the placebo group. This result was of particular interest to the researchers because walking speed is an independent predictor of adverse health events.

The benefits of supplementation were most pronounced in those women whose diets were deficient in magnesium. However, improvements were also noted in those whose magnesium intake met the Recommended Daily Allowance.

As we age, we have a tendency to lose muscle mass. This degenerative loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, robs older people of independence by limiting mobility and the ability safely to carry out simple functional movements. “These findings suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance, particularly in magnesium-deficient individuals”, wrote the researchers.

Magnesium is involved in more physiological processes than any other mineral. It plays a critical role in energy production, bone and tooth formation, muscle function, cardiovascular health, bowel function and blood sugar regulation.

Unfortunately the average women in the UK does not manage to obtain the recommended amount of magnesium through her diet, and older women are even more at risk of deficiency (3). Eliminating refined grains, sugar and other processed foods from the diet goes a long way towards ensuring a good intake of magnesium. Magnesium supplements, and increased intake of magnesium-rich leafy greens, beans and lentils, can also help address deficiencies.

This particular study used magnesium in the form of magnesium oxide, at a dosage of 300mg elemental magnesium. While magnesium oxide is cheap, it is not the most bioavailable form of magnesium. Magnesium citrate or magnesium malate, which demonstrate superior bioavailability, are often considered more helpful by nutritionists.


  1. Veronese N, et al. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomised controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Epub 9 July 2014
  2. Cracknell R (2010) The ageing population. Key Issues for the New Parliament. House of Commons Library Research.
  3. Food Standard Agency. (2011) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults over 65 years.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Migraine and Magnesium

Medical specialists have recently recommended that all migraine sufferers should be treated with magnesium supplementation (1).

Migraine and Magnesium
Research shows the benefits of magnesium (citrate) supplementation in preventing and reducing migraines.

A migraine is more than just a headache, it has a huge impact on the lives of sufferers and costs the UK more than £2.25 billion per year. One in seven people in the UK suffers with migraine, with women more likely to be affected than men. Fortunately, nutritional strategies can be very successful in helping sufferers by reducing the severity of symptoms and the frequency of attacks.

Clients who come to see me about migraine often need a personalised approach, as the condition and its triggers can be very individual. It is always important to consider dietary factors that can trigger an attack. A diet high in sugary foods and processed ‘high glycemic’ carbohydrates can trigger a migraine by causing episodes of hypoglycaemia. Food intolerances are also fairly common, with sufferers reacting to substances such as amines in chocolate, cheese, beer and wine. Excess salt, artificial sweeteners and wheat have also been identified as possible culprits. Allergic reactions to food can cause platelets to release serotonin and histamine, triggering a migraine attack in sensitive individuals.

Because migraines can be so individual, it can be difficult to make blanket treatment recommendations to sufferers. However, a recent article published in the Journal of Neural Transmission last week may change this. The article, written by two doctors with a particular interest in headache and migraine, recommended that all migraine sufferers should be treated with magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium deficiency is very common, affecting around 15% of the population (2). Poor intake is a common reason for deficiency, as a diet high in natural, plant-based wholefoods is essential for sufficient magnesium intake. Likewise, a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates leads to depleted magnesium levels. The authors also explain that poor absorption, stress and excessive excretion of magnesium by the kidneys can contribute to magnesium deficiency.

The authors suggest several ways that magnesium levels can be linked with migraine. For example, adequate levels of magnesium are essential in maintaining vascular tone and preventing neural hyperexcitation. Magnesium is also linked to the availability of serotonin, a neurotransmitter than can contribute to migraine by affecting the constriction of blood vessels in the brain.

The problem with testing for magnesium deficiency is that blood tests are not a reliable way to determine magnesium levels. This is because magnesium tends to ‘hide away’ inside cells and in bone, and so cannot be measured accurately in a blood test.

For this reason, the authors recommend that all migraine sufferers should be treated with oral magnesium. Their reasoning is that it is difficult to determine whether somebody is deficient in magnesium. However, such supplementation is harmless for those who are not magnesium deficient, and is potentially very helpful for those who are indeed deficient.

The best forms of magnesium are organic forms such as magnesium citrate, malate or aspartate. Inorganic forms, such as magnesium oxide, are less well absorbed, and more likely to have a laxative effect. If magnesium produces loose stools or diarrhoea, then the dosage should be reduced to a more tolerable level. The form of magnesium I most often recommend is magnesium citrate, at a level of 300-400mg per day. Dividing the dose and taking a well-absorbed form helps to reduce the likelihood of any side-effects.

For a condition such as migraine, which can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of sufferers, magnesium could provide welcome relief. The authors conclude that “considering that up to 50% of patients with migraines could potentially benefit from this extremely safe and very inexpensive treatment, it should be recommended to all migraine patients.”

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC


1. Magnesium effective in the treatment of migraine
Maukop A, et al. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm 2012 May;119(5):575-9

2. 2. Schimatschek HF, Rempis R (2001) Prevalence of hypomagnesemia
in an unselected German population of 16,000 individuals. Magnes Res 14:283–290