As you watch the candles accumulate on your birthday cake every year, it’s hard not to succumb to certain fears associated with getting older…
Mainly, that you could gradually lose your independence due to mobility problems and deteriorating health.
But did you know that one of the leading causes of disability and poor health in older adults is something completely preventable?
As you get older, your risk of bone fractures goes up because your bones don’t retain calcium and other minerals as well. Without those minerals, bones become thinner and weaker. That’s why you’ll often hear about older people fracturing their hip, arm or leg from minor accidents and falls.
If that happens to you, especially if you break a hip, the consequences could be dire. Women between the ages of 65-69 who break a hip are five times more likely to die — within a year — than women of the same age who don’t break a hip.
But there’s a lot you can do to prevent yourself from going down that path…
You can eat well (try this better bone-density diet). You can exercise. And, most importantly, you can make sure you’re getting enough of certain bone-building minerals and nutrients.
Now, you probably already know that you need enough calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. But there’s another mineral you absolutely need if you want to stay mobile, healthy and fracture-free as you get older… magnesium.
Magnesium for better bones
A recent study from researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland found that having higher levels of magnesium in your blood could reduce your risk of bone fractures by 44 percent.
The study tracked of 2,245 middle-aged men for 20 years. When they took blood samples to check magnesium levels at the end of the study, they found that the men with lowest magnesium levels had an increased risk for bone fractures — especially hip fractures.
On the other hand, men with the high magnesium levels slashed their risk of bone fractures nearly in half. It went down by a whopping 44 percent! Researchers also found that the 22 men with the highest magnesium levels, had no bone fractures whatsoever over those 20 years.
Now, there’s been evidence before that magnesium helps bone health… but this is the first study that actually links low levels of this miracle mineral to an increased risk of bone fractures. So it’s kind of a big deal…
Mastering your magnesium levels
The sad fact is, people who are middle-aged or older often have low magnesium levels. So a lot of people are at risk for these fractures that can steal their mobility and independence.
Worse yet, if you’re magnesium levels are low, you probably won’t even know it. Most people with low magnesium don’t have any symptoms, and magnesium levels aren’t checked regularly by doctors and hospitals.
That means, it’s up to you to make your magnesium levels a priority. You can have your magnesium levels checked by your doctor if you want. Or you can just play it safe and eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, including:
Dark, leafy greens (like spinach, chard and kale)
Beans (like black beans, navy beans, pinto beans and lima beans)
Nuts and seeds (like almonds, sesame seeds, cashews and pumpkin seeds)
Whole grains (like oatmeal, quinoa and whole wheat)
If you want to be extra cautious about your magnesium levels, you can also take a magnesium supplement. But you’ll probably want to get your levels tested first, because too much magnesium can cause its own set of problems.
If you do decide to take a magnesium supplement, you may want to follow the advice of Carolyn Dean M.D., N.D. A few years back, she wrote about how important magnesium is to your bone health, and she suggested you take 600 milligrams daily of elemental magnesium per day, along with the magnesium you get from your diet. She also recommended complimenting your magnesium with 1,000 to 2,000 international units of natural vitamin D3 daily, because, in the right ratio, these two supplements can improve your calcium absorption.