Magnesium status and ageing: an update

Magnes Res. 1998 Mar;11(1):25-42.


Ageing constitutes a risk factor for magnesium deficit. Primary magnesium deficit originates from two etiological mechanisms: deficiency and depletion. Primary magnesium deficiency is due to insufficient magnesium intake. Dietary amounts of magnesium are marginal in the whole population whatever the age. Nutritional deficiencies are more pronounced in institutionalized than in free-living ageing groups. Primary magnesium depletion is due to dysregulation of factors controlling magnesium status: intestinal magnesium hypoabsorption, reduced magnesium bone uptake and mobilisation, sometimes urinary leakage, hyperadrenoglucocorticism by decreased adaptability to stress, insulin-resistance and adrenergic hyporeceptivity. Secondary magnesium deficit in ageing largely results from various pathologies and treatments common to elderly persons: i.e. non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and use of hypermagnesuric diuretics. Magnesium deficit may participate in the clinical pattern of ageing: mainly neuromuscular, cardiovascular and renal symptomatologies. The consequences of hyperadrenoglucocorticism--whose non response to dexamethasone suppression test appears the simplest marker--may concern immunosuppression, muscle atrophy, centralization of fat mass, osteoporosis, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, disturbances in mood and mental performances through accelerated hippocampal ageing particularly. Treatment of magnesium deficiency requires simple oral physiological magnesium supplementation. Treatment of the different types of magnesium depletion leads to a more or less specific control of pathophysiological disturbances of the required magnesium substrate. Open and double blind studies on the effects of the treatments of magnesium deficiency and of magnesium depletions in geriatic populations are too scarce. Further study is necessary to assess the accurate place of magnesium deficit in the physiopathology of ageing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / physiology
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Magnesium Deficiency / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Magnesium