The muscle weakness happens slowly. So slowly, in fact, that you might not even notice it at first.
But then one day, maybe you’re carrying the groceries in from the car or lugging a load of laundry back to the bedroom, and it hits you. You realize you simply don’t have the strength you once did.
It’s another one of Nature’s dirty little tricks it plays on us as we age. We lose strength as our muscles become weaker. And tasks we once would never have given a second thought can suddenly become challenging.
Lots of folks simply give in and write off their worsening weakness as “getting old.” They decide to just live with it.
But scientists say you might not have too. As recent research has started to connect the dots between a common nutrient deficiency and growing muscle weakness as we age.
And it’s entirely possible you could turn things around, and preserve your strength as you age, for just pennies a day.
Common mineral deficiency could steal your independence
A new study, published in the journal Frontiers In Physiology last year, suggests low magnesium levels could be to blame for the decline in muscle strength so many of us experience as we age.
I’ll have more on that study in just a moment. But first, let’s take a quick look at the connection between magnesium, our health, and muscles.
The mineral is a core building block in the structure and function of our bodies. It’s a sort of Jack of All Trades involved in the creation of both DNA and proteins as well as being an important player in energy production.
Plus, magnesium sits at the heart of our cell and bone structure, and it’s CRITICAL for muscle function.
Yet a shocking number of us are running low in this mineral. According to the USDA, nearly half of Americans aren’t getting enough of this vital nutrient. And the numbers worsen as we age, with two-thirds of folks over 71 not getting the daily recommended amount of magnesium.
Men should be getting between 400 to 420 mg of magnesium a day. And the recommended daily amount for women is 310 to 320 mg.
But that can be a challenge since poor farming practices have depleted the soil our foods are grown in of many minerals, including magnesium. Which means we aren’t getting as much of the critical mineral in our diet as folks used to.
Experts say that deficiency, combined with shrinking muscle mass as we age, could be behind the weakness and frailty that strikes many folks in their senior years. And research conducted at the University of East Anglia, adds fuel to that theory.
Make it magnesium to beat muscle weakness
For the study, researchers examined the muscle strength of 441 folks ages 24 to 98. Over three days, the volunteers were given a variety of physical tasks to complete. And the results were compared to the amount of magnesium in their muscle tissues.
A clear link between magnesium and muscle strength was found in both men and women. And the scientists confirmed that senior women are at the highest risk for weakness and the mobility issues that go with it simply because they’re more likely to have worse magnesium deficiencies.
But there IS a silver lining. And that is, it’s typically easy to raise your magnesium levels. You can start by eating more magnesium-rich foods such as…
- nuts and seeds
- legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and halibut
- dark chocolate
- leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
If you’re unable to get enough magnesium through diet alone, supplements are also available for pennies a day. Research shows magnesium chloride and citrate may be better absorbed than magnesium oxide and less likely to cause any minor side effects like tummy upset or diarrhea.
Raising your magnesium levels not only could help you fight muscle weakness. Side benefits of correcting a magnesium deficiency can include stronger bones and a healthier heart and brain.
Keep in mind magnesium can compete with other nutrients for absorption. So if you’re taking a multivitamin or other supplements, you might want to space them a few hours apart.
Check with your doc before starting on any new supplement, of course. And if you have kidney issues, be sure to get your doctor’s okay before trying a magnesium supplement as it might not be the best choice for you.