We generally think about muscle strength and performance as a matter of concern for athletes, weekend warriors, folks who work out and anyone just wanting to stay in shape. For seniors however, muscle health and strength is even more important as a health issue. With aging, everyone loses muscle mass and strength to one degree or another, especially as we become less active. Loss of muscle can lead to bone loss, increase the risk of injury and even impair immune function.
Can anything be done to put the brakes on muscle loss? Good nutrition is essential: for starters, adequate intakes of quality protein. Daily mineral intake is another imperative, with special attention to magnesium. It’s common knowledge that magnesium, along with calcium, is important for healthy bones. Magnesium is also required for muscles.
The value of magnesium as a nutritional factor for muscle strength in seniors is underscored in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The “INCHIANTI” study, which examined risk factors for late-life disability, found a direct relationship between low blood levels of magnesium and muscle performance in older subjects. Grip strength, lower leg muscle power, knee extension and ankle extension were significantly better in subjects with higher magnesium levels. In view of this, taking a magnesium supplement—a safe, low-cost nutritional strategy—is a good recommendation for seniors, especially when the daily diet lacks generous helpings of magnesium-rich foods.
Dominguez LJ, et al. Magnesium and muscle performance in older persons: the InCHIANTI study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:419 –26.