Magnesium May be Just as Important as Calcium in Kids' Bone

May 27, 2013

Magnesium May be Just as Important as Calcium in Kids' Bone 

Reference:  Steven Abrams, Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting 2013 

 Magnesium?  Who ever heard of magnesium?   What on earth?  Well, considering earth, it is one of the most common elements on earth and it acts exactly like calcium, only smaller.   We have preached the eating of high calcium foods for decades, without making much progress.  We still have osteoporosis at rates almost 100 times greater than some parts of the world.  Not 10 times, 100 times.  Every billboard on the freeway with a white mustache on it is a reminder to drink more calcium.  And we haven’t gained much.  We are still breaking our bones at a record clip. 

 So what did Dr. Abrams do that was so convincing?   He got 63 kids, ages 4-8 and admitted them to a metabolic unit in a hospital so that every calorie they ate could be weighed and measured.  Then, they also collected food diaries (that included scales and weighing food at home) to see how accurate their normal diet compared to the hospital diet and tried to make precise certainty that their hospital food matched their home food for calcium and magnesium intake.  Finally, they gave them a tiny bit of non-radioactive stable isotopes of calcium and magnesium by IV and orally to see how much they were absorbing into their bone.  With that, they could collect urine for 72 hours and predict just how much was absorbed into bone.   And to measure bone health, they did DEXA scanning to get precise measurement. 

 What they found was not what they expected.  Calcium did not predict how strong or healthy their bones were.  It was the magnesium that predicted strong, dense bones.  Magnesium!   We’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Why is childhood bone health so important?  Your bone density in your teen years predicts what your bone density will be 50 years later.  The better you are in your early childhood, the better your teen years will be.  The better your teen years, the better your 60s.  Considering that bone health is strongly associated with many other illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, keeping healthy bones may be part and parcel of keeping healthy brains, having less diabetes, living longer and never breaking a hip. 

 We’ve just talked about the COMB study and its ability to improve bone density in the elderly with the combination of magnesium, Vitamin K2, Vitamin D, fish oil and strontium.  Vitamin K2 is clearly a game-changer.  But we shouldn’t forget lowly magnesium.  We know there are concerns about taking too much calcium with the possibility of more heart attacks from that practice.  Interestingly enough, strontium also acts chemically precisely like calcium, but it’s bigger and heavier.  Both the smaller and larger cousins of calcium make for stronger bones. 

WWW.  What will work for me?  Kids bones are like the canary in the coal mine.  I need to be aware of my magnesium intake.  Foods with the most magnesium include all nuts, seeds, brans and lots of herbs like sage, coriander and basil.  Chocolate is high in magnesium too.   Almost all seafood is pretty high.  Green vegetables like spinach are loaded.  Eat more spinach. Watch this on Youtube! 

 Pop Quiz

1.   We break our bones at a much higher rate in America than in other countries from osteoporosis?  T or F                           Answer:  True 

 2.  Adult bone density is predicted by childhood bone strength? T or F                   Answer:  Also True 

 3.   According to this study, the amount of magnesium in a child's diet is more predictive of healthy strong bones than the amount of calcium.  T or F                      Answer:  Bingo! 

 4.   This supports the COMB study findings that showed a Combination of Micronutrients all work together in adults, and magnesium was part of that mix, whereas added calcium was not.  T or F                            Answer:   True 

 5.  A great source of magnesium is hamburger and pizza and other bread products.  T or F.    Answer:  False, false, and false.  Please, it's green leafy vegetables like spinach that hit the home run with magnesium.  Nuts and seafood, bran too.

Colume written by Dr John E Whitcomb, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI