Women’s Health, Osteoporosis and Magnesium

istock_000001594943xsmall boneWomen’s health is dependent on the proper amount of nutritional magnesium so as to ward off such health issues as osteoporosis.

All of us lose some bone as we age, but women with osteoporosis lose an excessive amount. In many cases, it can be prevented and treated, and all recent studies do not agree that high calcium intake has a positive effect on bone health.The more calcium one ingests at any given time, the smaller the percentage of calcium that is actually absorbed. And there is research that has shown that when we adapt to a low-calcium diet, we actually excrete less of it in our urine and increase our absorption.


Does High Calcium Intake Have a Positive Effect on Osteoporosis?

In 1988 the National Women’s Health Network announced that women who lived in countries where calcium intake was low had less osteoporosis than women in this country who are on a high calcium diet. Recently, a study published in theJournal of Applied Nutrition showed an increase in bone density in postmenopausal women who took more magnesium and less calcium than has been generally recommended.

Calcium contains properties that make bones brittle, while magnesium binds to protein in our bones and keeps them supple. We suggest that you may need more magnesium to make your bones more like ivory and less like chalk, and that you find a product that will allow you to increase your magnesium intake to 600-800 mg/day while limiting calcium supplements to around 500 mg.

While magnesium helps the body absorb and utilize calcium, excessive calcium prevents the absorption of magnesium. Taking more calcium without adequate magnesium – and what is adequate for one woman may be inadequate for another – may either create calcium malabsorption or a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is helpful for PMS and helps the body utilize B vitamins. Finally, high calcium diets may actually increase the risk of stroke says a UCLA study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Dairy products contain almost 9 times as much calcium as magnesium, and grains and beans are needed to help balance the amount of magnesium. Reduce your consumption of refined sugar and alcohol to prevent excessive magnesium from being excreted in the urine.

Not only does sugar cause magnesium excretion, but also causes calcium to be leached out of your bones.

Guy E. Abraham, M.D., a research gynecologist and endocrinologist in Torrance, California, has given post menopausal women from 200 to 1,000 mg of magnesium a day to strengthen their bones (up to bowel tolerance or loose stools but not diarrhea). These women showed an average bone density increase of 11 percent in one year by increasing magnesium (600-1,000 mg/day) and lowering calcium (500 mg/day).

Beware of Bone-Density Testing! There are accuracy problems with all of the machines that measure bone density, and bone density is not always the same throughout your body. To complicate matters more, deposits of unabsorbed calcium – perhaps from arthritis – can result in overreads, in which machines report a higher density than what actually exists.

The long-term safety of the osteoporosis drugs has yet to be established and there are labels that warn of possible digestive problems, so it might be wise to reserve the drugs for cases of advanced osteoporosis. These drugs work by inhibiting bone reabsorption.

Most doctors ignore the information that has been in medical journals and attempt to frighten their patients into taking 1,500 mg of calcium a day. The majority of nutritional supplements contain twice as much calcium as magnesium, and numerous studies show that most of this calcium doesn’t get into the bones. Boron and vitamins D and E are necessary for calcium absorption (the amount of vitamin E should be 200-400 IUs daily – no more than 800 IUs per day). (“Osteoporosis,” report from author of Women’s Health Letter, Nan Katherine Fuchs, Ph.D., 2001)



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