For individuals who are suffering with arthritis, some relief may come in the form of a common mineral that is deficient in far too many people. That mineral is magnesium, and approximately half of Americans or even as many as 80 percent don't get enough of this essential nutrient.
Since magnesium is intimately involved with more than 700 enzyme processes in the body, according to magnesium expert Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, harboring low levels could have a significant impact on your health.
If you already have arthritis or you are at risk for developing this disease, getting sufficient magnesium could help, and here's why. Magnesium modulates cell activity involved in the process of inflammation. One of the characteristics of the two most common types of arthritis-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis-is inflammation.
Osteoarthritis develops when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones in your joints wears down. Even though osteoarthritis traditionally has not been viewed as involving inflammation, recent research has shown that it does indeed have a significant role and needs to be addressed. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive condition in which inflammation in the joints typically causes immobility and painful deformities in the fingers, feet, ankles, and wrists.
Magnesium and Osteoarthritis
The amount of magnesium people consume appears to have an impact on osteoarthritis, according to a study in which 1,626 adults (age 40-83) were studied. All of the participants had their knees x-rayed and their dietary magnesium intake evaluated.
Overall, 25.2 percent of the participants had knee osteoarthritis (OA). The relative odds of developing knee osteoarthritis increased at the amount of magnesium intake decreased. At the same time, the amount of joint space narrowing (characteristic of osteoarthritis) decreased as the amount of dietary magnesium declined as well.
The authors concluded that their study "supports potential role of Mg [magnesium] in the prevention of knee OA."
Magnesium has been shown to slow progression of osteoarthritis in rats. Investigators gave magnesium sulfate to rats with induced osteoarthritis and observed that the mineral reduced pain and inflammation of the joints. As a bonus, the scientists found that the magnesium reduced the death of cartilage cells, which in turn slowed progression of the disease.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often come up short on magnesium. An Albany Medical College study found that people with active rheumatoid arthritis had diets deficient in magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc.
Magnesium to Treat Arthritis
While the National Institutes of Health recommend 320 mg magnesium daily for women and 420 mg for men, Dr. Dean, who is also a Medical Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, ups that requirement to 700 mg. Getting that amount from foods rich in magnesium (e.g., leafy greens, legumes, seeds, broccoli, squash, nuts, whole grains) can be a challenge, so supplements are typically necessary.
One easy way you can get extra magnesium, manage arthritis, and help prevent it as well is by sipping on water mixed with magnesium citrate powder every day.
Dean notes that "magnesium is a natural detoxifier which helps calcium absorption and keep calcium from depositing into soft tissue where it can cause some forms of arthritis."
She recommends magnesium citrate or supplements that have picometer-sized magnesium, since these promote absorption. Magnesium is often paired or taken along with calcium for bone health, and the proper ratio is 1-to-1 when taking these minerals. Both vitamin D and K2 should be taken as well to support the bones.
Before taking magnesium citrate powder or any magnesium supplement, talk to your doctor to determine how much is right for you. You may want to get a blood test to determine your magnesium levels. Standard serum blood tests are inadequate, so ask for a magnesium RBC (red blood cell) test, which looks at magnesium levels inside red blood cells and is more accurate.
Anyone who has a heart or kidney problem or diabetes, who is taking an antibiotic, or is using any other medications should talk to a healthcare provider before starting any magnesium supplementation. Editor's Note: We recommend Natural Calm as a magnesium citrate powder. It is an award-winning supplement that restores healthy magnesium levels and balances calcium intake.
Sources:Fredericksburg.com. Is magnesium deficiency hidden clue to ailments?
Lee CH et al. Intra-articular magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) reduces experimental osteoarthritis and nociception: association with attenuation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit 1 phosphorylation and apoptosis in rat chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2009 Nov; 17(11): 1485-93
Mercola.com. Magnesium-the missing link to better health
Nutritional Magnesium Association. Magnesium and arthritis
Rosanoff A et al. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutrition Reviews 2012 Mar; 70(3): 153-64
Sokolove J, Lepus CM. Role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis: latest findings and interpretations. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Diseases 2013 Apr; 5(2): 77-94
Zeng C et al. Association between dietary magnesium intake and radiographic knee osteoarthritis. PLoS One 2015 May 26; 10(5): e0127666