Increased magnesium intakes may improve physical performance in elderly women

July 28, 2014

A new study from Italy reports that a daily supplementation with magnesium may prevent or delay the age-related decline in physical performance of healthy elderly women.

In the randomized controlled trial, the physical performance of 124 healthy women (mean age 71.5 years) who attended a mild fitness program was measured before and after a 12-week-treatment with a daily
300 mg magnesium oxide or placebo (1). The study results showed that participants who received magnesium had a significantly better (twice as high) physical fitness (e.g., chair stand times and 4-m walking speeds) than the placebo group. The effects of magnesium supplementation were more evident in participants with a dietary magnesium intake below the recommended daily amounts at the beginning of the study. Magnesium supplementation did not improve the strength of the lower limbs and the handgrip.

The researchers commented that studies on the efficacy of magnesium supplementation in young people have generated contrasting results. The reason for these different findings may be differences in the participants’ magnesium supply status and the fact that many studies did not assess magnesium status before providing supplementation. Elderly people are particularly susceptible to magnesium deficiency for several reasons, including an inadequate dietary intake, a less efficient magnesium absorption, and greater losses in stools and urine (2). A large cross-sectional study on older people showed a strong association between serum magnesium and several muscle performance tests (3). Magnesium plays a fundamental role in muscle function and is essential to energy metabolism, transmembrane transport, and muscle relaxation and contraction. The scientists said that further research is needed to understand the influence of magnesium supplementation on physical performance in elderly people with different magnesium concentrations.


  1. Veronese N. et al. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online July 2014.
  2. Barbagallo M. et al. Magnesium homeostasis and aging. Magnes Res. 2009; 22:235–246.
  3. Dominguez L. J. et al. Magnesium and muscle performance in older persons: the InCHIANTI study.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 84:419–426.