The magnesium content of a diet is significantly related to bone strength, according to a new study. Although the importance of magnesium for bone health has been recognized, not much was known about magnesium absorption and its relationship to bone mineral content and density, which are both factors that impact bone strength. Results from the new study from USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital helps solidify the connection.

The research appears in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and was noted on heathcanal.com.

Researchers were able to measure the magnesium intake and absorption of the children in the study (between the ages of 4 and 8) by using techniques involving stable isotopes (apparently, unstable isotopes are not very helpful). According to the article, they found that magnesium intake and and absorption were significantly associated with bone mineral content and density. Calcium intake and absorption were not.

"Dietary magnesium intake levels tend to be at a healthy level in small children, but we see deficiencies in these levels in teens and young adults," Dr. Steven Abrams, professor of pediatrics at BCM and a physician at Texas Children’s, told healthcanal.com. This is because magnesium is found in foods such as dairy products, nuts and vegetables, which are not consumed as often by teens and young adults as by younger children, said Abrams. "This study shows a newly understood, important part of the diet for healthy children," he said.

Different evidence supporting the importance of magnesium to children's bone health was presented in May at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. "Lots of nutrients are key for children to have healthy bones. One of these appears to be magnesium," said lead author Steven A. Abrams MD, FAAP, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in a release. "Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium."