"If you aren't seeing a chiropractor, you must be on drugs."

December 13 [Volume 6, Issue 26]

In this issue of To Your Health:

  • Time to Bone Up on Magnesium
  • MRegular Walking Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Lower Your Blood Pressure With Low-Fat Dairy Products

Time to Bone Up on Magnesium

Most people know that calcium is important in having strong, healthy bones and teeth. What's less well-known is the importance another mineral, magnesium, plays in having strong bones. A recent study found that magnesium may be just as important as calcium with regard to bone mineral density, and that it can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in the elderly.

In this study, more than 2,000 men and women between the ages of 70 and 79 filled out food questionnaires and forms that tracked their intake of magnesium, either through food or from supplements. Researchers also measured bone mineral density (BMD) in each person, along with other information, such as physical activity levels and body mass index.

After analyzing the data, the researchers were able to establish a link between magnesium intake and increased BMD. For every 100 milligram per day increase in magnesium intake, there was an approximate 2 percent increase in BMD throughout the body. However, this effect appeared to occur in white, but not black, men and women; the authors of the study suggested that differences in calcium regulation or responses to nutrients in milk might be responsible for the results.

An interesting side-note to this study is that only 26 percent of the people surveyed actually consumed the recommended daily allowance for magnesium (320 milligrams per day for women aged 70 and older; 420 milligrams per day for men). Doctors of chiropractic who treat elderly patients can recommend certain foods and supplements that are high in magnesium, which can increase BMD while reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Ryder KM, Shorr RI, Bush AJ, et al. Magnesium intake from food and supplements is associated with bone mineral density in healthy older white subjects. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, November 2005;52(11):1875-1880.

Regular Walking Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Regular exercise is essential to good health. While it is unclear as to which exercises provide the most benefits, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that 30 minutes of "moderate intensity" physical activity, performed most days of the week, will lead to a wide range of health benefits. This is especially important for otherwise "sedentary" people, who may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other disorders.

In this study, nearly 500 inactive adults were randomized to one of five groups. In four of the groups, patients were asked to walk 30 minutes per day, in sessions of 10 minutes or longer, at various levels of intensity and duration. In the fifth group, patients received advice from a doctor and written materials on exercise. All of the patients were monitored for 24 months for changes in oxygen and cholesterol levels.

At six months, patients in three of the walking groups (moderate intensity/high frequency, hard intensity/low frequency and hard intensity/high frequency) showed "significant increases" in oxygen consumption compared to the group that received advice only; people in the hard intensity/high frequency group also showed "significant improvements" in total cholesterol levels. These improvements were still apparent at the end of the study period.

Walking is one of the easiest ways for a sedentary person to become more physically active. It can be performed at any time, in a variety of environments, and is extremely cost-effective. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about setting up an exercise plan that includes walking along with other types of activities to help improve your overall fitness level.

Duncan GE, Anton SD, Sydeman SJ, et al. Prescribing exercise at varied levels of intensity and frequency. A randomized trial. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 14, 2005;165:2362-2369.

Lower Your Blood Pressure With Low-Fat Dairy Products

A person's diet is directly tied in to that person's chances of developing hypertension. Previous studies have shown that diets that contain high amounts of fruits and vegetables and low amounts of fat can be effective in lowering blood pressure. However, there is little research regarding the consumption of low-fat dairy products and their effect on hypertension. A new study suggests that people who eat high amounts of low-fat dairy products are much less likely to develop high blood pressure than people who eat low amounts of those products.

In this study, more than 5,800 adults completed a series of food questionnaires, which tracked their intake of dairy products and other foods over 27 months. Participants also reported any incidence of being diagnosed with hypertension between the start of the study and their last questionnaire.

Patients who consumed the highest levels of low-fat dairy products were 54 percent less likely to develop hypertension over the course of the study compared to people who consumed the lowest amount of dairy products. This effect remained in place even after the authors screened out other factors linked to high blood pressure, such as body weight, activity levels and smoking.

Low-fat dairy products include skim milk and reduced-fat milk, reduced-fat cheeses, and some types of yogurt. If you already consume large amounts of dairy products, consider switching to low-fat or non-fat alternatives. In addition, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about other ways to reduce your blood pressure.

Alonso A, Buenza JJ, Delgado-Rodriguez M, et al. Low-fat dairy consumption and reduced risk of hypertension: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2005;82:872-879.