Magnesium-rich drinking water may protect bones
One of the best ways to have a successful, fulfilled older adulthood is to pay attention to the health and strength of the bones. While men and women both can fall prey to brittle bones, it is a particular problem for women due to the hormonal changes their bodies go through during menopause, when low estrogen levels can cause the loss of minerals like calcium and magnesium from the bones themselves.
This loss in turn makes bones brittle and increases the chances of a fall, which in turn can lead to decreased mobility or even placement in assisted living. All of these problems can be avoided, however, if people as they age lead a lifestyle that promotes strong bones. This can include getting plenty of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in the diet and regular exercise. And recent research is showing that even the kind of water that people drink can make a big difference.
The latest study
This new study is coming out of Norway, and researchers there analyzed the levels of calcium and magnesium in the public drinking water of areas throughout the country. These two minerals in particular were studied because they play such an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy even as someone ages.
The researchers wanted to determine if there was a relationship between a person's bone health and the kind of water they were drinking. At the same time, this study followed a group of 700,000 elderly patients for seven years. During that time, over 5,000 hip fractures were reported for men in this group and over 13,000 for women.
When the data from this study was analyzed, it was found that the men and women living in areas where the drinking water was naturally higher in magnesium had the fewest incidents of hip fractures. What surprised researchers, however, was that there was not a similar correlation for areas of drinking water which had higher levels of calcium. It is calcium, after all, that most healthcare providers focus in on when educating the middle-aged and elderly on bone health. This is the first study to look at incidence of hip fractures and bone health in relationship to drinking water.
The reason for the study
There was good reason to conduct such a study. Norway, like most developed countries, is also an aging country and has a special interest in promoting the health of its elderly, with the goal of keeping them in their own homes as they age whenever safely possible.
One major roadblock to this goal is fractures due to falls – particularly hip fractures, which often result in weakness and loss of mobility and can often lead to placement in a nursing home, assisted living or similar facility. This has an enormous social and financial cost for both the individuals and their families as well as for society as a whole.
In short, the problem of weak bones - and the potential for hip fractures or other serious fractures - in an aging population is a major social issue. And while many factors play a part in this disease, studies like this can be extremely useful in determining different ways - such as magnesium supplementation in areas with low magnesium levels in the water - to help avoid this problem to begin with.