Magnesium Supports Muscle Growth During Aging – Increases Testosterone – and Clears Estrogen from the Body

  • by Nils Osmar. June 17, 2024
  • This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. 
  • See full Medical Disclaimer

Several recent studies have clarified that magnesium is anabolic; is essential to maintaining and building muscle, particularly in the elderly; and helps the liver clear estrogen from the body.

In both sexes, it’s essential to the production of testosterone (though the effect is most pronounced if it’s combined with exercise). In women, it’s essential to maintaining strong bones during and after menopause.

Magnesium, mTOR and AMPK

mTOR is the “growth pathway”; when it’s activated, our bodies focus on building and maintaining muscle.  AMPK is the longevity pathway, associated with repair and recycling with our cells and tissues. There’s a tendency in the anti-aging community to focus on the importance of AMPK (and it’s definitely important). But both are essential if our goal is healthy longevity.

Where’s your train heading?

One way we might view the relationship between mTOR and AMPK is like a switch that can send a train down a different set of tracks. Our body is the train, and time is the “track” is rushing down.

We can send it racing toward growth and robust health (mTOR), or send it racing toward repair and autophagy and recycling (AMPK). But (like a real train), it can’t go in two directions at once. Depending on signals that come in through the diet, our bodies switch from focusing our energies on growth to focusing them on repair.

Magnesium is anabolic

Magnesium is anabolic, so is associated with the activation of mTOR and muscle protein synthesis. When we take it, we’re sending our cells and tissues down the path toward health, growth and anabolism.

It might therefore be best to take magnesium, or eat foods rich in it, during times when we’re trying to activate mTOR — for example, when we want muscle protein synthesis (i.e., before and/or after working out). By the same token, we might want to avoid supplementing with magnesium when we’re focusing on activating AMPK (i.e., when we’re fasting).

The studies also suggest that both young people and elderly people wanting to improve muscle protein synthesis might want to increase their consumption of magnesium.

Magnesium and aging

According to a 2024 study, Magnesium and the Hallmarksf of Aging:

Magnesium is an essential ion in the human body that regulates numerous physiological and pathological processes. Magnesium deficiency is very common in old age.

Age-related chronic diseases and the aging process itself are frequently associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, called ‘inflammaging’….

As shown in this review, there is evidence that magnesium is related to all the hallmarks of aging (Figure 5). An optimal magnesium balance during one’s life course may help preventing inflammaging and its related consequences. 

My situation

I realized recently that though I’ve known for years about the importance of magnesium, but there’s some evidence that mine may be low, and I should supplement more. One reason may be that I include some dairy (raw milk, kefir and yogurt) in my diet. The calcium in the milk increases the need for magnesium even further.

The kind of magnesium I’ve found works best for me for raising blood levels is magnesium glycinate. I sometimes also take magnesium threonate, which some studies suggest can cross the blood-brain barrier. (The glycinate form works better for me for another function of magnesium, i.e., promoting rest and sleep.)

A recent (2022) study

Magnesium supplementation enhances mTOR signaling to facilitate myogenic differentiation and improve aged muscle performance.”

“Through animal experiments, we demonstrated that Mg2+ supplementation in aged mice significantly promotes muscle regeneration and conserves muscle mass and strength. 

“Mechanistically, Mg2+ stimulation activated the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling, inducing the myogenic differentiation and protein synthesis, which consequently offers protections against the age-related decline in muscle regenerative potential and muscle mass. 

“These findings collectively provide a promising therapeutic strategy for MuSC dysfunction and sarcopenia through Mg2+ supplementation in the elderly.”

Magnesium and testosterone

Another study clarifies that magnesium is not only anabolic, it is essential to the production of testosterone in males. And an absence of magnesium is associated with greater prevalence of Parkinsons and some other diseases.

It’s not the only thing needed to maintain high testosterone levels as we age, but it’s an essential link in the chain.

Magnesium also supports insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1-1) levels and the production of growth hormone. Studies have shown that magnesium levels in the bloodstream are strongly associated with  (IGF-1) levels. As magnesium levels increase, IGF-1 levels increase proportionally. This also has a beneficial effect on testosterone production. 

From the study: “Magnesium and anabolic hormones in older men

Studies have found that the age-associated decline in anabolic hormones, including testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) (Harman et al., 2001; Maggio et al., 2006) is a strong predictor of frailty and mortality in older persons (Cappola et al., 2009; Maggio et al., 2007)…

Magnesium levels (β ± SE, 34.9 ± 10.3; p = 0.001) were significantly and positively correlated with total testosterone (Fig. 1 and Table 2). As expected in the age-adjusted analysis SHBG, DHEAS and grip strength were significant correlates of total testosterone. BMI (r = −0.13, p = 0.02), fasting insulin (r = 0.08, p = 0.09), Parkinson disease (r = −0.13, p = 0.02) and CHF (r = −0.09, p = 0.07) were also significantly and negatively associated with total testosterone…”

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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