Magnesium, Calcium Levels Possibly Linked to Inflammation and Metabolic Disorders in Fibromyalgia

Magnesium, Calcium Levels Possibly Linked to Inflammation and Metabolic Disorders in Fibromyalgia

Low levels of magnesium in the blood are associated with greater levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, while calcium levels appear to be correlated with values of triglycerides, a type of fat, in women with fibromyalgia, a study has found.

The study, “Relations between serum magnesium and calcium levels and body composition and metabolic parameters in women with fibromyalgia,” was published in the journal Advances in Rheumatology.

Magnesium and calcium may play a role in the risk of metabolic disorders and inflammation, but larger and deeper studies are needed to clarify their effects on the wellness of people with fibromyalgia.

In addition to chronic pain, patients with fibromyalgia usually have a higher body mass index (BMI) and are less physically active, compared to the general population.

This makes patients more prone to develop metabolic syndrome — a condition in which a combination of increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) levels, increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Patients with chronic pain usually do not follow the recommended dietary intake of nutrients. But a deficiency or imbalance in nutrients, such as minerals (e.g., magnesium, calcium) and vitamins, might play a critical role in the development of fibromyalgia by disrupting the natural mechanisms in the body that inhibit pain, along with triggering fatigue, and other symptoms.

Low magnesium levels have been associated with migraines and fibromyalgia, as well as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. The effects of magnesium are closely related to those of calcium. Often, the activity of each of them in the body is interdependent, including in the maintenance of bone health, muscle contraction, energy metabolism, and brain activity.

Blood levels of magnesium and calcium have been linked to the metabolism of lipids (fats and fat-like substances), cardiovascular risk, and metabolic syndrome. However, “little is known about the relation between chronic pain conditions, metabolic disorders and the roles of Mg [magnesium] and Ca [calcium] in women with FM [fibromyalgia],” the researchers wrote.

To uncover those possible links, researchers tested the blood and analyzed the body composition of 53 women with fibromyalgia (average age 48.1) and 50 healthy women (average age 47.1), who served as controls.

Body composition was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), a type of X-ray used to measure bone density that also can provide a detailed picture of the body composition, including the percentage of fat, bone, and lean body mass.

Blood levels of magnesium, calcium, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (often called “bad” cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (often called “good” cholesterol), and sugar (glucose) did not differ significantly between women with fibromyalgia and healthy women.

In addition, investigators found no significant differences in the amount of fat and lean mass between the two groups.

However, lower levels of magnesium were found to be associated with higher amounts of CRP in women with fibromyalgia, suggesting that low magnesium may increase patients’ inflammatory response. In the control group, low magnesium was linked to lower BMI and glucose levels.

Regarding calcium levels, a positive correlation was found with triglyceride values in women with fibromyalgia, and to glucose levels in healthy women. A calcium-triglyceride association could mean that patients who have high levels of calcium are more prone to high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome.

“Although some studies have shown lower intracellular and serum contents of Mg and higher Ca levels in patients with FM, our study did not find such difference in levels of serum Mg and Ca in the FM group or in the control group,” researchers wrote.

In this study, however, BMI was identical between patients and healthy women, so possible associations between magnesium and calcium levels, body composition, and metabolic parameters could not be checked.

“These findings suggest that magnesium and calcium may have a relevant role in metabolic disorders and inflammations in women with fibromyalgia. New research studies must be developed in order to better unveil the mechanisms of said minerals in the physiopathology [disease mechanisms] of fibromyalgia and their relation with metabolic disorders,” they added.