Low Magnesium Intake Increases Risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Depression in Elderly Diabetics

by Mita Majumdar on  June 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM Health Watch
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There is a connection between magnesium intake and metabolic syndrome, depression and physical activity in elderly people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study from Taiwan, published in the Nutrition Journal.
 Low Magnesium Intake Increases Risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Depression in Elderly Diabetics
Low Magnesium Intake Increases Risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Depression in Elderly Diabetics

The term metabolic syndrome, a disease of the modern times, is generally referred to a group of conditions viz. obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. One common feature in patients with any or all of these conditions is the deficiency of magnesium. Earlier studies have found that low serum magnesium levels are associated with a higher prevalence of the metabolic abnormalities.

Magnesium has a number of physiological functions in the body. It is required in higher quantities during sports, workouts and other physical activities, or when sweating profusely since it affects oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance with regard to muscle function. In fact, dysfunction of all these three factors due to deficiency of magnesium is associated with chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension and lipid abnormalities.

Low magnesium levels are also associated with depression and studies have shown that magnesium supplementation is effective in treating depression in elderly people with diabetes.

Considering the fact that type-2 diabetes is a global health problem increasingly seen in the elderly people, assessment of magnesium status is important for determining the association of magnesium with diabetes, metabolic control and cardiovascular disease.

Clinical studies have suggested that dietary magnesium deficiency may impair metabolic control but various studies on magnesium intake and magnesium supplementation were inconsistent. And magnesium intake in elderly diabetics and its relationship to metabolic syndrome were not much studied.

So, Jui-Hua Huang from Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan, and colleagues, conducted a study to investigate magnesium status in aging type-2 diabetics and its relationship to metabolic control, depression and physical activity.

They recruited 210 diabetic patients (98 men and 112 women) aged 65 years and above from a rural area of central Taiwan. Information on lifestyle and 24-hour dietary recall was collected through interview of these patients. Depression was assessed based on DSM-IV criteria. Anthropometric measurements, including height, weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body fat percentage were taken, and biochemical determinations of blood and urine samples were done. The relationships of magnesium intake with nutritional variables and metabolic parameters were determined through linear regression.

The study results suggested that -

  • 88.6 percent of elderly type 2 study subjects had low magnesium intake.
  • About one-third of the subjects had hypomagnesemia.
  • Depression was seen in subjects with low magnesium intake.
  • Magnesium intake was associated with high physical activity. However, people with high physical activity displayed lower serum magnesium levels than those of the moderate physical activity.
  • Lower magnesium intake was associated with metabolic syndrome biomarkers such as HDL, triglyceride, BMI, body fat percentage and waist circumference.
  • Magnesium intake was inversely proportional to systolic and diastolic blood pressure marginally.
  • A lower intake of magnesium intake was associated with low energy and protein intake.
The investigators suggested that 'Increased magnesium intake may improve metabolic control in patients with metabolic syndromes'.

An interesting finding of this study is the non-co-relation of serum magnesium with total magnesium intake. The investigators found that although 89 percent of the subjects had a magnesium intake of less than recommended values, the prevalence of hypomagnesaemia was only 37 percent. This goes to show that 'serum magnesium may not be a good marker and may be inaccurate to correlates with magnesium status', according to the authors.

The researchers also found that risk of hypomagnesemia increases in subjects with high intensity physical activity and low magnesium intake. So, they advised elderly diabetes patients with high physical activity but low serum magnesium, to increase magnesium intake through magnesium supplementation or dietary magnesium.

Despite certain limitations to the study, the authors confidently concluded that 'Majority of elderly diabetes patients have low magnesium intake and may exacerbate metabolic abnormalities and depression. Clinical care should therefore focus on increasing dietary magnesium intake or magnesium supplementation to improve metabolic control, depression, and physical performance in elderly diabetes patients'.

References : Huang, J-H, et. al. Correlation of magnesium intake with metabolic parameters, depression and physical activity in elderly type 2 diabetes patients: a cross-sectional study. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:41 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-41

Source: Medindia

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