Magnesium Deficiency in Older Adults

Older adults are especially susceptible to magnesium deficiency.

According to population studies, less than 30% of American adults consume the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium.  Even if you think you’re getting enough by eating a healthy diet, some of your daily habits could be inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb magnesium.  Here are five conditions that could lead to magnesium deficiency.

  1. Consuming Soda Regularly – most dark colored sodas contain phosphates that actually bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, making it unavailable to the body. Even if you’re eating a balanced diet, if you’re drinking soda with it, you’re likely flushing magnesium out of your system.
  2. Drinking Caffeinated Beverages Regularly – magnesium levels are controlled largely by the kidneys, which filter and excrete excess magnesium and other minerals. However, caffeine causes the kidneys to release more magnesium than they should.  Drinking caffeinated coffee, tea or soda can increase your risk of magnesium deficiency.
  3. Experiencing Stress – stress is definitely the enemy. Stress can lead to magnesium deficiency, but a lack of magnesium also tends to magnify the stress reaction, making things even worse.  When you’re stressed, your body releases more adrenaline and cortisol.  However, studies have found that an increase in these “fight or flight” stress hormones is associated with a decrease in magnesium.
  4. Eating Too Many Sweets – refined sugar causes the body to excrete excess magnesium through the kidneys. Sugary foods are known as “anti-nutrients” meaning they actually consume nutrients when digested.  All foods require vitamins and minerals for the digestion process.  So, it’s important to choose foods that actually put back those vital nutrients that are lost, not foods that cause even more loss in nutrients.
  5. Consuming More than One Alcoholic Beverage Daily – alcohol lowers magnesium levels by increasing secretion from the kidneys. It also contributes to decreased efficiency of the digestive system, which can contribute to low magnesium levels.

Older adults are especially susceptible to magnesium deficiency.  Studies have found that aging, stress and disease contribute to an increase in magnesium needs and yet most older adults actually consume less magnesium from food sources than when they were younger.  If the above conditions apply to you, you may need to increase your magnesium supply.

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