Calcium Magnesium Supplement Ratio
The calcium magnesium supplement debate continues to rage in bone science. Basically, two camps of bone metabolism experts exist: one that feels a specific ratio of magnesium to calcium intake is essential; another who believes that magnesium is over emphasized. Magnesium provides alkalinity, it argues, something that can be accomplished through diet. Ironically, clinical research supports both sides of this calcium magnesium supplement debate.
Some nutritionists recommend a 2 to 1 -- or even 1 to 1 -- ratio of calcium to magnesium intake, partly because that mimics the respective mineral content of bone. Certainly there is no downside to taking a calcium magnesium supplement in either ratio.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Magnesium Fact Sheet:
"Data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggest that substantial numbers of adults in the United States (US) fail to get recommended amounts of magnesium in their diets…Among African-American men and Caucasian men and women who take dietary supplements, the intake of magnesium is significantly higher than in those who do not.
Bone health is supported by many factors, most notably calcium and vitamin D. However, some evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency may be an additional risk factor for postmenopausal bone health... Several human studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation may improve bone mineral density. In a study of older adults, a greater magnesium intake maintained bone mineral density to a greater degree than a lower magnesium intake... [F]urther investigation on the role of magnesium in bone metabolism...is is needed."
The flip-side of the calcium magnesium supplement controversy is three-fold:
- There is no proven ratio of magnesium to calcium for bone health.
- Diet should provide sufficient magnesium; it doesn’t have to come from calcium magnesium supplement.
- Magnesium simply helps alkalize the body; no differently than potassium or fruits and vegetables.
The third point is supported by article in the 1999 American Journal of Nutrition entitled “Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women”. In that study Tucker, et al concludes:
“Greater potassium intake was significantly associated with greater BMD at all 4 sites for men and at 3 sites for women (P < 0.05). Magnesium intake was associated with greater BMD at one hip site for both men and women and in the forearm for men. Fruit and vegetable intake was associated with BMD at 3 sites for men and 2 for women.”
Put differently, potassium and fruits and vegetables provided an equal or greater benefit as magnesium intake.
Should you take a calcium magnesium supplement? Most bone experts consider calcium to be most critical for bone health. Because there are different types of calcium, you should find one that is proven to be clinically effective, such as the AAACA calcium in AdvaCAL. Also, ensure that you get sufficient vitamin D daily, from either sunlight or supplements (foods are typically low in vitamin D). Finally, eat a healthy, varied diet, with more fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet is a good source of minerals, including magnesium. Following this overall strategy may replace the need to take a specific calcium magnesium supplement.