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About 60% of the magnesium present in the body is stored in the bones (1). Because levels of magnesium in blood serum are tightly regulated, the stores in bone are believed to serve as a reservoir to maintain the serum levels. Magnesium homeostasis plays a critical role in bone health (2).
Several epidemiological studies have shown a positive correlation between dietary magnesium intake and bone mineral density and the rate of bone loss (3).
In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority Panel (EFSA) on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies concluded that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of magnesium and maintenance of normal bone (4). In a separate opinion in 2013, the EFSA Panel further stated that the role of magnesium in bone mineralization and homeostasis exists in all ages (5).
Alcohol consumption and its negative effect on magnesium levels has been the subject of many studies. Heavy alcohol use is attributed to decreasing magnesium levels through an increase in urinary excretion, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as decreased intake (1, 2). According to the Centers for Disease Control, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men or consuming 8 drinks or more per week, for women.
Research indicates that alcohol consumption negatively impacts various tissues in the body and results in magnesium loss in tissues. Magnesium loss may be a predisposing factor to the onset of alcohol-induced pathologies including stroke, sarcopenia, cardiomyopathy, steatohepatitis and cirrhosis (3).
The U.S. National Institute of Health has also warned that alcohol consumption results in depleted magnesium levels and other nutrients (4).
Magnesium is essential for human metabolism, cell growth, protein synthesis and for maintaining the electrical potential in nerve and muscle cells (1). Of the body’s magnesium, 30–40% is found in muscles and soft tissues, 1% is found in extracellular fluid, and the remainder is in the skeleton, where it accounts for up to 1% of bone ash.
Magnesium has a well established relationship with muscle function because of its role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. Therefore, it is likely that the need for magnesium would increase during accelerated metabolic situations, like exercise. This implies that athletes potentially have higher magnesium requirements (2).
Plasma magnesium has been found to strongly affect muscle performance, such as grip strength and muscle power (2, 3). A study of male elite athletes found that magnesium intake was significantly associated with trunk flexion, trunk rotation and handgrip maximal strength. Jumping performance tests were also inversely associated with magnesium intakes (3).
Another randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted, using healthy elderly women, investigated the effect of magnesium supplementation on physical performance and muscle strength. It was found that women given 300 mg magnesium for 12 weeks significantly improved their physical performance scores, walking speed and chair stand times. These findings are significant because walking speed may be a predictor of degenerative skeletal muscle loss and chair stand time affects lower limb strength, balance and psychological aspects (4).