Osteoporosis or porous bone is a condition that occurs when bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is removed. Bones are continually forming in the body through a process called remodeling. Remodeling consists of tearing down small parts of the bones, and then re-forming them. This process helps the body to attain and maintain bone density and peak bone mass. This occurs throughout life for about the first twenty-five to thirty years. Abnormally reduced bone mass is osteoporosis.
The most important element of bones is the minerals that they are comprised of. This includes calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and fluoride. Just as important is the balance among these minerals. The presence of too much or too little can directly affect bone structure.
The Underappreciated Mineral
While much attention has given to calcium, there is not enough information readily available about magnesium, though studies have shown that magnesium plays just as important, if not more so a role in osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis afflicts more women than men. The decline of bone mass starts to occur when most women are in their mid thirties. The loss is accelerated for a few years around the time of menopause and then continues to decline at a steady rate of about one percent annually after that.
There has been evidence to show that a deficiency in magnesium may be more common in women with osteoporosis than a calcium deficiency. How exactly magnesium behaves to help combat osteoporosis is extremely complex. Since calcium and magnesium work closely together, having an appropriate ratio of both minerals is important in order for them to be most effective. A two to one ratio of calcium to magnesium is a good rule.
Calcium Needs It
Without magnesium, calcium cannot build strong bones. This is because calcium requires the help of enzymes to work properly. Magnesium helps to bind calcium with other minerals to build bone. So even though calcium may be abundant in the diet, it cannot be put to use by the body without the presence of magnesium. While magnesium helps the body absorb and utilize calcium, excessive calcium prevents the absorption of magnesium. So by taking in more calcium without the right amount of magnesium, both of which optimal amounts vary by person can create a magnesium deficiency or create calcium malabsorption.
There is mounting evidences to show that obtaining overall bone health, protecting the bones and there by preventing osteoporosis is more a function of retaining the calcium in the bones, rather than the amount of consumption. There are good dietary sources that can help the body get the essential nutrients it needs for optimal health and strong bones. While adequate amounts of calcium should be consumed, dairy is not always the best choice to get the magnesium and other important minerals needed.
Certain types of fish, nuts, and dark leafy greens are good. There are some who are more prone to magnesium deficiency than others who would benefit from magnesium supplements. Consumption of processed foods, excessive alcohol use and diuretics all lead to magnesium depletion.