What We Learned From The Accelerated Aging of Astronauts
Monday, March 5th 2012 at 1:00 pm by Sayer Ji
Did you know that astronauts undergo vastly accelerate aging during space flights? According to a recent review in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging:
“The loss of the functional capacity of the cardiovascular system with space flight is over ten times faster than the course of aging on Earth.”
It has been postulated that magnesium (Mg) deficiency may be the major contributing factor underlying these observed pathological changes. Indeed, the review pointed out that “With space flight there are significant reductions of serum Mg (P<0.0001) that have been shown in large studies of astronauts and cosmonauts.”
Due to the fact that magnesium is an antioxidant and calcium blocker, and is also required for ATP production within the mitochondria of the heart muscle cells, it is likely that a correction of Mg deficiency would be an effective strategy to reduce space flight-associated cardiovascular decline and accelerated aging.
Magnesium deficiency, however, does not only afflict those in space. Here on earth, magnesium deficiency is probably one of the most common nutritional deficiencies of our time. The Western diet, in fact, is characteristically low in magnesium-rich foods, e.g. dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and whole grains. A 2008 review on the subject of aging and magnesium deficiency explored the topic further:
“Most human cells can only replicate a limited number of times in cultures before they lose the ability to divide, a phenomenon known as replicative senescence, which seems to play a role in aging at the organismal level. Recent studies have shown that culture in low magnesium (Mg) accelerates the senescence of human endothelial cells and fibroblasts. Given the numerous critical roles of Mg, it seems likely that Mg inadequacy would interfere with cellular metabolism, which could affect the senescence process. Since i) several pieces of evidence link low Mg to aging and age-related diseases and ii) the Occidental diet is relatively deficient in Mg, we propose that broadly correcting nutritional intakes of Mg might contribute to healthier aging and the prevention of age-related diseases.”
Another crucial function of magnesium is to support the adrenal hormone cascade in times of stress. This mineral has a buffering effects on the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines, e.g. dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine — the prolonged elevation of which can interfere with the body’s regenerative, self-healing processes (many of which occur during restful sleep) that can slow the aging process.
Indeed, a 2002 study published in the journal Pharmacopsychiatry titled “Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans,” found that magnesium partially reverses electroencephalography (EEG) and nighttime neuroendocrine changes associated with aging.
Ultimately magnesium, like all minerals our body was designed to consume regularly, is indispensable for our health as a whole and not accelerated aging. The research indicates that there are well over 100 disease states that may be prevented and/or ameliorated through the correction of magnesium deficiency. This research is indexed and freely available to view on GreenMedInfo.com’s Magnesium page.
For a comprehensive list of magnesium-rich foods, visit the NutritionData.com page on the topic here: Foods Highest In Magnesium. You may be surprised at what is on top of the list: Coffee. Also, for a comprehensive list of 188 substances studied for anti-aging, or if you prefer, longevity-promoting properties visit our research page on the topic: Aging..