Osteoarthritis and Magnesium – Is There a Link?

There are some myths associated with osteoarthritis (the most common form of joint disease called arthritis). Although it is commonly considered as a consequence of ‘wear and tear’ cartilage in the joint, but actually the way of how it occurs is not fully understood yet. How about your dietary magnesium? Is there a link?

Understanding magnesium in general

Magnesium is one of bulk minerals required by the body, particularly hearts, kidneys, and muscles. With calcium, it is also involved to build bones and teeth. Overall, there is a wide range of functions from this mineral in your body.

image_illustration201The following are other major checklists for why your body needs magnesium:

  1. It is essential to help make energy production.
  2. It is required to help activate certain enzymes to support some body functions.
  3. It also plays a role in controlling the balance levels of other minerals in the body such as potassium, zinc, copper, and calcium.

An interesting fact, a true deficiency of this mineral is rare – though you may not consume sufficient magnesium in your diet. But some health problems can make you easier to lose your body’s magnesium balance.

These may include taking diuretic, diabetes, kidney disease, pancreatitis, over-active thyroid /hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, heavy menstrual bleedings, excessive sweating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Nutrient deficiencies are also often triggered by viral infection that causes diarrhea /vomiting.

Even some lifestyle factors can have an effect. These include too much consumption of alcohol, salt, soda, or coffee, as well as prolonged psychological problem (such as stress).

This mineral is easier to be found in many foods. Green vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), nuts, legumes, dairy products, bananas, and whole grains are some good source for this mineral. Many of these foods are also rich in calcium and potassium.

Unfortunately though it can be easier to be found in many foods, but some people can have magnesium deficiency and even most of them don’t realize that they have it!

How to do you know when you have deficiency of this mineral? The symptoms that appear may vary and usually depend on the severity of how far the deficiency declines. These include:

  1. RLS – restless leg syndrome (a condition associated with the urge to move the legs).
  2. Irritability, anxiety, or agitation.
  3. Difficulty sleeping /sleep disorders.
  4. Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  5. Nausea that may be followed with vomiting.
  6. Muscles spasms.
  7. Abnormal heart rhythm.
  8. Poor growth of nail.
  9. And even seizure in severe case.

Is there a relationship between osteoarthritis and magnesium deficiency?

Taking magnesium supplement is associated with some benefits. Even some of these may be helpful to treat some health conditions. But unfortunately, most of these claims are not supported with sufficient evidence.

Like most things in nutrient supplements, the confirmed effectiveness of taking magnesium supplement is used for treating magnesium deficiency. So, it is useful as long as you have a health condition associated with magnesium deficiency.

How about for osteoarthritis? Again – with calcium, vitamin D, and other micronutrients; magnesium is essential mineral in building the bones. Lack of this mineral may have an effect in increasing the risk of osteoporosis, but not osteoarthritis!

Osteoporosis is different than osteoarthritis. Osteoporosis is a condition that cause the bones weaken and even easier to break. It has nothing to do with the damaged cartilage in the joint (the major reason behind osteoarthritis).

 Currently, there is no evidence that lack of magnesium has an effect in causing osteoarthritis. And taking supplement of this mineral also has no direct effect for osteoarthritis treatment.

See also possible mineral deficiencies that may be linked to osteoarthritis on this section!

However, some people with arthritis can develop demineralized bone. For this reason, doctor may also prescribe supplements of magnesium or other minerals.

Magnesium supplements – what are they for?

As mentioned before, they are mainly used to treat magnesium deficiency or other conditions related to the deficiency of this mineral. Currently, they are also effective used to help treat constipation (it can act as laxative) and heartburn (it can act as antacid).

It may also work (possibly effective) for high blood cholesterol, preventing type-2 diabetes, treating some symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), angina (chest pain) due to artery disease, preventing stroke, treating pain of fibromyalgia, and kidney stones.

If you think you should get more benefits from magnesium, consult to your doctor first before taking the supplement. This is important since it may interact with other medicines that you are taking.

Citations /references:

  1. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium
  2. http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/eating-well/vitamins-and-minerals/magnesium-benefits.php
  3. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-998-magnesium.aspx?activeingredientid=998&activeingredientname=magnesium#vit_sideeffects

Last accessed on September 2014

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