Magnesium Retention From Metabolic-Balance Studies in Female Adolescents: Impact of Race, Dietary Salt, and Calcium

Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;97(5):1014-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.039867. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


Background: Previously, we showed that black girls retained more calcium than white girls did and that salt loading negatively affected calcium retention. Racial differences likely exist in other bone minerals also, such as magnesium, in response to salt loading during growth.

Objective: We studied racial differences in magnesium metabolism in response to dietary sodium and calcium during rapid bone growth.

Design: Twenty-seven white and 40 black girls (11-15 y old) were studied for 3 wk while they consumed low-sodium (1.3 g/d) and high-sodium (3.8 g/d) diets by using a randomized-order, crossover metabolic study with 3 dietary calcium intakes; the magnesium dietary intake was fixed at 230 mg/d. Urine and feces were collected during each 3-wk period in 24-h pools and analyzed for magnesium. A mixed-model ANOVA was used to determine the effect of race and dietary sodium with calcium intake as a covariate.

Results: Salt loading or calcium intake had no significant effect on urinary magnesium excretion. Blacks excreted significantly less urinary magnesium (mean ± SD: 83.8 ± 25.6 mg/d) than did whites (94.9 ± 27.3 mg/d; P < 0.05). No effects were observed in fecal magnesium excretion. Magnesium retention was higher with the low-sodium diet (50.1 ± 44.0 mg/d) than with the high-sodium diet (39.3 ± 49.8 mg/d) (P < 0.05), with no effects of race or calcium intake. Salt loading had no effect on biomarkers. Whites had higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 but lower 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone concentrations.

Conclusions: Blacks excreted less urinary magnesium than did whites. Magnesium retention was similar between races but higher with the low-sodium diet. Kinetic studies are needed to fully explain magnesium homeostasis. This trial was registered at as NCT01564238.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium / urine*
  • Motor Activity
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • Magnesium

Associated data