Geriatric Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Emergent Pathologies, University of Palermo, Italy
Aging is very often associated with magnesium (Mg) deficit. Total plasma magnesium concentrations are remarkably constant in healthy subjects throughout life, while total body Mg and Mg in the intracellular compartment tend to decrease with age. Dietary Mg deficiencies are common in the elderly population. Other frequent causes of Mg deficits in the elderly include reduced Mg intestinal absorption, reduced Mg bone stores, and excess urinary loss. Secondary Mg deficit in aging may result from different conditions and diseases often observed in the elderly (i.e. insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes mellitus) and drugs (i.e. use of hypermagnesuric diuretics). Chronic Mg deficits have been linked to an increased risk of numerous preclinical and clinical outcomes, mostly observed in the elderly population, including hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, endothelial dysfunction, vascular remodeling, alterations in lipid metabolism, platelet aggregation/thrombosis, inflammation, oxidative stress, cardiovascular mortality, asthma, chronic fatigue, as well as depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Both aging and Mg deficiency have been associated to excessive production of oxygen-derived free radicals and low-grade inflammation. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are also present in several age-related diseases, such as many vascular and metabolic conditions, as well as frailty, muscle loss and sarcopenia, and altered immune responses, among others. Mg deficit associated to aging may be at least one of the pathophysiological links that may help to explain the interactions between inflammation and oxidative stress with the aging process and many age-related diseases.