Inadequate Magnesium Intake Can Lead to Osteoporosis and Arthritis

Ever wonder whether the calcium from dairy products you consume, or from the supplements you take, is actually being deposited into your bones and teeth and not elsewhere in the body, such as in your soft tissues (tissues other than the bones)?

Well, if you are consuming dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt (poor sources of magnesium) without adequate dietary magnesium intake or taking calcium supplement that contains no or inadequate amount of magnesium (the recommendation is at least half as much magnesium as calcium), that may very well be the case.

How? Calcitonin is a hormone necessary for the deposition of calcium into the bones and for preventing it from being accumulated in the soft tissues, such as the joints. Magnesium is a mineral that stimulates calcitonin production. Studies suggest that without magnesium, calcium does not get into the bones and teeth. In fact, people with osteoporosis and tooth decay have low bone and teeth magnesium content.

In many forms of arthritis (inflammation of joints), especially osteoarthritis, there is excess calcium in the joints, and not enough calcium in the bones. Magnesium helps stimulate calcitonin production to remove calcium out of the joints and increase its levels in the bones, states Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods.

A study published in The Journal of Arthritis Care and Research, was designed to find out whether the group of patients with calcium crystal deposits in the knee joints had a lower blood magnesium levels compared to the controls (the group without calcium deposits). The results showed that the prevalence of calcium crystal deposits in the joints was significantly higher in patients with low blood magnesium levels.

Excess alcohol and caffeine, and certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics and birth control pills deplete magnesium; and antacids block its absorption.

Many people who regularly consume refined foods, such as white flour and white sugar, which are both found in common breads, pastas, cookies, pastries, etc., may be deficient in magnesium. The refining process - used to make white flour from wheat berries and white sugar from sugar cane removes many of the essential nutrients, including magnesium. About 85% of magnesium is lost when white flour is made.

The unrefined or whole foods rich in magnesium are legumes, such as soy products, peas and lentils; whole grains, particularly buckwheat and wheat, also oats, brown rice, rye, and millet. Nuts, especially hazelnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also good sources. Chlorophyll rich foods, such as wheat or barley grass products and micro algae spirulina and chlorella are excellent sources, as are leafy green vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens and collard greens.

These whole foods contain not only magnesium, but also many other so-called calcium cofactors, such as vitamins A, B and K1, and minerals manganese, zinc, copper, boron, silica, selenium and chromium, all of which are important for the proper utilization of calcium.

But on thing to remember is that magnesium and some other minerals' content of a particular food may vary significantly from one region to another, depending on the mineral content of the soil in which it was grown. One exception is barley - and wheat - grass products and micro algae spirulina and chlorella, since they are usually grown in mineral rich soil and water. Although some say we should consume only locally grown foods, it's a good idea to include in our diet some of the foods grown in other regions to prevent mineral deficiencies.

A whole food diet, rich in magnesium and other calcium cofactors should be consumed along with calcium rich foods for prevention and treatment of disorders associated with improper calcium utilization, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Claudette Nazaryan is a nutritionist with an M.S. in Nutrition, Food Science, and years of research and clinical experience in various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol), overweight conditions, diabetes, liver and digestive problems, arthritis, and neurological problems. She is also a Certified Alternative Nutrition Specialist. For more information, go to

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