Magnesium 'Could Prevent Broken Bones'

Tim Locke

April 20, 2017

Researchers say offering magnesium supplements to some older people could help prevent broken bones after falls.


As people get older falls causing broken bones are a leading cause of disability. Bones can be weakened by conditions like osteoporosis - but good nutrition also plays a role.


Calcium from dairy foods alongside safe exposure to the summer sun to top up vitamin D are well known as being important for bone health.


Researchers from the University of Bristol and colleagues from Eastern Finland say less is known about the role magnesium plays.




Magnesium is a mineral that helps turn food into energy for the body and is important for the normal working of the parathyroid glands that affect people's bone health.


Most people get enough magnesium from their diet and water.


Natural food sources of magnesium include green, leafy vegetables, nuts and brown rice.


Some medications and digestive conditions can affect how much is absorbed by the body.


Little was known about whether low magnesium levels make broken bones more likely.


People are not routinely checked for low magnesium, so low levels can go undiagnosed.


As well as nutrition, exercise is important for strong bones - and avoiding smoking and too much alcohol can also help.


20-Year Study

The research teams looked at the records of 2,245 middle-aged men over 20 years who were already taking part in a heart study in Finland. They were checked for the amount of magnesium in their blood.


Men with higher magnesium levels were found to be less likely to have a bone fracture.


Twenty-two men (1%) had high magnesium levels and none of these broke any bones during the study period.


Magnesium Supplements

The way the study was designed cannot prove a direct cause and affect between higher magnesium levels in the body and fewer broken bones, just an association. Other factors could play a role, such as health conditions or eyesight problems making falls more likely.


Overall, the researchers say it appears that for some people, getting extra magnesium into their diets, managing any problems with absorbing magnesium - or offering supplements could reduce their risk of broken bones.


However, they stress that more work is needed to confirm this and to trial magnesium supplements.


If you are concerned about your bone health and are considering supplements, seek medical advice. Minerals like magnesium can interfere with some medications. Taking too much magnesium can also cause diarrhea.



European Journal of Epidemiology: Low serum magnesium levels are associated with increased risk of fractures: a long-term prospective cohort study

University of Bristol

NHS Choices: Other vitamins and minerals, The recipe for strong bones for life