While calcium is known as the bone health mineral, the medical community has recently recognized that a lack of magnesium, rather than a lack of calcium, is often the true culprit in age-related bone loss and other chronic health problems.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. More than 325 different enzyme systems depend on it in order to function properly. Magnesium is actually the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and roughly half of your total body magnesium resides in your bones. This means that elemental magnesium is just as important as calcium when it comes to bone health, if not more important.
In order for calcium to properly assimilate into the human bone structure, a balance of both vitamin D and magnesium is essential. If either one of these critical calcium co-factors is lacking or altogether missing, calcium alone can actually lead to long-term bone health problems, including osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
When most people think of bone health, they think of calcium. Medical professionals have now come to realize that vitamin D is also a necessary component. However, it’s not well known that magnesium is crucial for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form to then enable calcium absorption.
In a large study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, using subjects from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers found that people who ate diets high in potassium and magnesium had higher bone density readings and stronger bones than those who didn’t.
The need for proper magnesium levels begins in childhood. According to a study presented recently at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting, parents should encourage their kids to eat salmon, almonds and other foods high in magnesium because it may play a crucial role in bone health. Lead study author Steven A. Abrams M.D., FAAP, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said, “Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium.”
Foods with high levels of magnesium include:
- Almonds – one cup sliced = 247mg magnesium
- Bananas – one banana = 32mg magnesium
- Legumes – one cup kidney beans = 70mg magnesium
- Brown rice – one cup = 84mg magnesium
- Quinoa – one half cup = 118mg magnesium
- Spinach – one half cup boiled = 78mg magnesium