Beating osteoporosis while lowering health care costs

Beating osteoporosis while lowering health care costs

What if all U.S. women over age 55 diagnosed with osteoporosis were to use magnesium supplements at preventive intake levels?

"A cumulative savings of $6.8 billion from 2013 to 2020 in avoidable hospital utilization costs is potentially realizable if all U.S. women over the age of 55 diagnosed with osteoporosis were to use magnesium dietary supplements at preventive intake levels," states a new economic report entitled Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements.

The report, done by Frost & Sullivan through a Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF) grant, shows that U.S. women aged 55 and up who take magnesium supplements at the preventive intake levels illustrated in the report (100 mg) can reduce the risk of osteoporosis while achieving impressive amounts of personal health care savings and avoiding significant societal health care costs.

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, magnesium expert and Medical Advisory Board member of the nonprofit Nutritional Magnesium Association, had the following response to the report: "We at the Nutritional Magnesium Association applaud the Council for Responsible Nutrition's findings that highlight the health and financial benefits of magnesium supplementation, which are being increasingly recognized by the medical community." She also added that the health and financial savings could conceivably double if higher doses of magnesium were used.

"Since our focus is on magnesium, we note that it is responsible for 700 to 800 enzyme reactions in the body, and we see clinical evidence for it being needed in 700 mg doses, which is twice the RDA of 350 mg. Unfortunately this amount of magnesium is not easily obtained from the diet due to mineral depletion in our soils and foods. One hundred years ago we could get 500 mg of magnesium in our daily diet; now we are lucky to have 200 mg.

"The fail-safe position of magnesium is that if it is given in too high a dose, or if too much magnesium is given at once, there will be a laxative effect. We recommend dissolving magnesium, such as a magnesium citrate powder, in water and sipping it throughout the day.

"As for calcium, we see scientific evidence that too much is being taken in supplement form, which can cause heart disease in women and calcification of various tissues, resulting in atherosclerosis, arthritis, gallstones, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, heel spurs and breast tissue calcification. We recommend that people study calcium food charts and note how much calcium they obtain from their diet. Eating dairy products, nuts and seeds, fish with bones, deep-green leafy vegetables and foods fortified with calcium can give you the 600 to 700 mg of calcium that you require. The RDA that we favor is that of the UK and the WHO at 500 to 700 mg per day.

"With our recommendations for more magnesium and less calcium, we are convinced that bone health and heart health will both be improved. The other symptoms and conditions that respond to increased levels of magnesium include headaches, migraines, acid reflux, asthma, insomnia, anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, nerve tingling, heart palpitations and constipation."

According to the CRNF report, approximately 75 percent of total U.S. health care expenditures are spent on preventable diseases, but only 3 percent of total health care expenditures are invested in disease prevention programs.

Dr. Dean recommends tipping the prevention scales and monitoring calcium intake, supplementing with low-dose vitamin D, getting the minimum daily requirement of magnesium, "and going for an even calcium-magnesium balance."

A 32-page guide to the benefits of magnesium and how to avoid osteoporosis, strengthen bones naturally and support a healthy heart is available as a free download at


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