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Magnesium May Benefit Lung Health in Children
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, June 18, 2012, abstracted from “Oral magnesium supplementation in children with cystic fibrosis improves clinical and functional variables: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial” published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 30, 2012
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease characterized by a defective gene that causes a buildup of thick mucus in the lungs that can lead to life-threatening infections. Cystic Fibrosis affects 70,000 people worldwide, including 30,000 U.S. children and adults. One thousand new cases are diagnosed every year, with 70% of all diagnoses made by age 2. The average lifespan of a patient with cystic fibrosis is the late 30s (1). 
The costs of treating cystic fibrosis vary widely and are based on the severity of gene mutation in the patient. Research has found that treatment can range from $700 per patient per year to $44,000 per patient per year (2). Now a new study (3) suggests that magnesium may benefit lung health in children with cystic fibrosis.
In the study, 44 patients diagnosed with cystic fibrosis between the ages of 7 and 19 were given either 300 mg of magnesium per day or placebo for 8 weeks. There was then a 4-week “washout” period after which the treatments were switched between groups for another 8 weeks. All patients were undergoing conventional treatment for cystic fibrosis that included respiratory medications, pancreatic enzyme, water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamin supplementation (4, 5). 
Researchers looked primarily at lung function in the form of the amount of air breathed in (maximal inspiratory pressure) (6) and breathed out (maximum expiratory pressure), with maximum inspiratory pressure being the most important measurement. They also used a measure of overall cystic fibrosis severity in the form of an SK score (7), with higher scores indicating a lower severity of cystic fibrosis.
The researchers found both maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressure to be “significantly improved” in the magnesium group compared to the placebo group. Specifically, those in the magnesium group saw an 11% improvement in maximum inspiratory pressure (98.3 to 109.3%) compared to a 0.5% improvement in the placebo group (99.2 to 99.7%) while maximum expiratory pressure increased by 11.9% (97.5 to 109.4%) compared to 0.8% in the placebo group (97.4 to 98.2%).
Regarding SK scores, those in the magnesium group saw a 5.6% increase in score (80.05 to 84.52, indicating a decreased severity of cystic fibrosis). In the placebo group, there was a 1.6% decrease in the SK score (80.55 to 79.25, indicating an increased severity of cystic fibrosis).
The researchers attribute the lung benefits seen with magnesium to its’ antioxidant and inflammation-regulating properties (8, 9) and concluded that “oral magnesium supplementation helped improve both the SK score and respiratory muscle strength in pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY.  You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
1.       Statistics from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website www.cff.org
2.       Rosenberg MA. Assessing the cost of cystic fibrosis diagnosis and treatment. J Pediatr 2005 Sep;147(3 Suppl):S101-5.
3.       Gontijo-Amaral C. Oral magnesium supplementation in children with cystic fibrosis improves clinical and functional variables: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial .Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034207.
4.       Sinaasappel M. Nutrition in patients with cystic fibrosis: a European Consensus. J Cyst Fibros 2002;1:51–75.
5.       Flume PA. Cystic fibrosis pulmonary guidelines: chronic medications for maintenance of lung health. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176:957–69.
6.       Volianitis S. Assessment of maximum inspiratory pressure. Prior submaximal respiratory muscle activity ('warm-up') enhances maximum inspiratory activity and attenuates the learning effect of repeated measurement. Respiration 2001;68(1):22-7
7.       Stollar F. Shwachman-Kulczycki score still useful to monitor cystic fibrosis severity. Clinics (Sao Paulo) 2011;66(6):979-83
8.       Blache D. Long-term moderate magnesium-deficient diet shows relationships between blood pressure, inflammation and oxidant stress defense in aging rats. Free Radic Biol Med 2006;41:277–84.
9.       Rock E. Dietary magnesium deficiency in rats enhance free radical production in skeletal muscle. J Nutr 1995;125:1205–10.