Magnesium Health Benefits, Sources, Deficiency, RDA, Toxicity

nuts contain magnesium

What is Magnesium

Magnesium is an element that is abundant in nature. It is the 9th most abundant element in the universe, the 8th in the earth’s crust and the 3rd in the sea.

It took its name from Magnesia in Thessaly, Greece. The Romans called it Magnesia alba because of the white color of the carbonates found in the prefecture of that area.

It was first isolated in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy and in the 19th century it was used as an antacid, laxative and as an antidote to poisons.

It is the central atom in the chlorophyll molecule, a complex chemical compound that gives plants their green color and plays an important role in the process of photosynthesis and thus in plant survival.

In recent decades there has been increasing evidence of the beneficial effects of magnesium on many functions of the human body. In the human body, it is the 4th most concentrated mineral after sodium, potassium and calcium and the 2nd in the intracellular space after potassium.

The human body contains 22-26 grams of magnesium which is mainly found in the bones and muscles and only 1% is found in the extracellular space.

Bohr model of magnesium. From Signal Garden

The biological action of magnesium is due to its ability to chelate (very stable compounds formed between minerals such as magnesium, iron, etc. and organic compounds such as haemoglobin, chlorophyll, adenosine triphosphonate-ATP, etc.), but also to counteract the action of calcium.

Magnesium participates as a cofactor in more than 300 chemical reactions such as the binding of hormones (insulin, thyroxine, testosterone, etc.) to the receptor and the expression of their biological action, the signal transduction of neurotransmitters (dopamine, catecholamines, serotonin, GABA, etc.), synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, muscle contraction, neuronal activity, vasomotor tone, calcium binding to its channels.

More generally, magnesium plays an essential role in the regulation of the body’s energy, the functioning of the nervous and muscular systems and bone health and is considered the natural calcium antagonist.

Magnesium Health Benefits

Magnesium is the forgotten mineral, often overshadowed by calcium and potassium. But magnesium is just as important, if not more so, than those two minerals.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production, protein synthesis, and nerve function. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. And yet most people are deficient in magnesium.

So what does that mean for your health? Check below what the science has to say.

Enhances performance during exercise

Magnesium enhances exercise performance. During exercise, you need 10% to 20% more magnesium than when you are resting. Magnesium helps move blood sugar in the muscles during exercise.

In one study, volleyball players who took 250 mg of magnesium daily had better jumping and a wider range of motion. In another study, athletes who took magnesium for four weeks were faster at running, cycling and swimming. They also showed reduced levels of insulin and stress hormones .

image of a man running

Magnesium helps with depression

Magnesium plays a key role in brain function and mood. There seems to be a clear link between depression and magnesium deficiency.

Supplementing with magnesium can reduce the symptoms of depression. In a study of adults with depression, magnesium improved their mood like depression medications.

Read Also: Best Foods For Depression Based On Research: Top 12 Foods That Help Fight Depression

It has benefits in type 2 diabetes

Magnesium benefits people with type 2 diabetes according to an article published in PubMed. 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood. Also, people with low magnesium intake have a higher risk of developing diabetes – according to findings of a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

Another study of 4,000 people over 20 years found that those with the highest magnesium intake were 47% less likely to develop diabetes. Another study showed that people with type 2 diabetes who took high doses of magnesium every day showed significant improvements in blood sugar

Magnesium can lower blood pressure

People who took 450 mg of magnesium a day had a significant reduction in blood pressure.
In another study, magnesium lowered blood pressure in people with high blood pressure – according to a randomized controlled trial by scientists.

Magnesium may help prevent migraines

Headaches that come from migraines are painful and debilitating. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise are common.

According to scientists, people with migraines have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium can help reduce migraine symptoms.

Reduces insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is one of the causes of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. It is characterized by the inability of muscle and liver cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

Many people with metabolic syndrome have magnesium deficiency. In addition, high insulin levels lead to the loss of magnesium through the urine, further reducing the levels of magnesium found in the body (source).

Increasing magnesium intake can significantly help reduce insulin resistance. A study found that magnesium reduced insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, even in people with normal blood levels.

Magnesium improves symptoms of dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea is one of the most common disorders in women of childbearing age. Symptoms include water retention, abdominal pain and cramps, fatigue and irritability.

In women with dysmenorrhea, magnesium intake improved mood and water retention symptoms (source).

Read Also: 14 Best Foods for Premenstrual Syndrome And What To Avoid

Magnesium Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake for magnesium ranges from 200-420 mg for adults, and from 80-200 mg for children and adolescents.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take 360-400 mg of magnesium daily. Children and pregnant women should avoid taking more than the recommended intake unless instructed to do so by a doctor.

two bananas on a yellow background
Bananas are one of the best sources of magnesium

Magnesium Foods

Foods that contain the most magnesium are green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and beans. Magnesium is also found in some whole grains and in dark chocolate.

Other good sources of magnesium include:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • swiss chard
  • collard greens
  • mustard greens
  • turnip greens
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • brussels sprouts
  • seafood, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • nuts and seeds, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds
  • whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley
  • legumes, such as lentils and kidney beans
  • bananas,
  • avocados
  • dark chocolate

Some people may need to take magnesium supplements if they are not able to get enough magnesium from their diet. Speak with a doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

Read Also: 25 Everyday Foods Packed With Magnesium You Probably Didn’t Know

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is a metal that supports hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. However, magnesium deficiency is common in most people. Magnesium deficiency is the most common deficiency after vitamin D. Therefore, you may not have magnesium stores, even if you follow a healthy diet.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency:

  • mood disorders
  • fatigue
  • muscle cramps
  • numbness in the hands and feet
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • headaches
  • palpitations
  • arrhythmias
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia

Read Also: 32 Signs That You Need More Magnesium Right Now (And How To Get It)

Types of Magnesium

Magnesium is available as a dietary supplement in tablets, capsules, ampoules, in liquid form, as oil and in powder form. In addition, there are many different forms of magnesium that differ in their bioavailability and potency.

  1. Chelated magnesium – It consists of a magnesium oxide ion which is bound to an amino acid or a mixture of amino acids. Magnesium lactate, glycinate, aspartate, malate and arginate belong to the category of chelated magnesium and are considered to be highly bioavailable. Chelated magnesium is an adjuvant in cases of myalgia.
  1. Magnesium Oxide – Also known as milk of magnesia in its liquid form, this oxide is used therapeutically to relieve constipation and also as an antacid. It exhibits low levels of bioavailability, and rapid passage through the intestinal tract. It serves only as an antacid and laxative.
  1. Magnesium citrate – Derived from the salt of citric acid. It has a lower elemental magnesium content but has a high bioavailability. It improves bowel motility and has been found to help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
  1. Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt) – This is an inorganic form of magnesium and contains less than 10% elemental magnesium. At the same time it has low bioavailability. It is the well-known Epsom salt and is used for detoxification.
  1. Magnesium orotate – Magnesium orotate has the ability to penetrate cell walls and mitochondria, making it an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium orotate also supports the production of energy in the body and helps protect cells against free radical damage.
  1. Magnesium chloride – Magnesium chloride is a naturally occurring mineral. It is found in seawater and in mineral springs. Magnesium chloride has many uses, including as a dietary supplement, an ingredient in skincare products, and a treatment for water retention. It is also sometimes used as an ice pack or heat pad to reduce swelling or to treat pain.

Read Also: If Magnesium Chloride Levels Are Very Low, These 7 Warning Signs Will Show You That!

  1. Magnesium lactate – Magnesium lactate is made from magnesium, which is a mineral, and lactate, which is an acid. Lactate is made when milk sugar (lactose) breaks down. Magnesium lactate supplements are used to treat or prevent low levels of magnesium in the blood. Magnesium lactate can also be used to improve certain heart conditions.
  1. Magnesium carbonate – Magnesium carbonate is a white solid that is slightly soluble in water. It is used as an antacid, a source of magnesium, and as a drying agent. Magnesium carbonate can be made by reacting magnesium oxide with carbon dioxide.

Taking magnesium supplements, when taken alongside vitamin B6, is more effective in combating various disorders because it allows the magnesium to better penetrate inside the cells.

For children, the chelated form, in particular magnesium aspartate or glycinate, is the most suitable, while magnesium oxide should be avoided. The choice of the appropriate form of magnesium during pregnancy or for people with cardiovascular or kidney disease should be made exclusively by the doctor.

Magnesium Supplements

The best Magnesium supplement we feel proud to recommend to our readers is the Bioptimizer’s Magnesium Breakthrough Supplement.

magnesium breakthrough bottle

Magnesium Breakthrough is one of the most potent and complete magnesium supplements on earth. It includes all forms of Magnesium, which are naturally derived from plants or animals without harsh processing methods; this makes it an incredible value considering how many people can benefit!

For you that want to learn more about Magnesium Breakthrough, feel free to check our full review here.

Indications for Magnesium use

Magnesium, which helps to contribute to the treatment of a number of pathological conditions, can be used in conjunction with medication:

  • Bronchial asthma: Dose 150-300 mg daily for magnesium which helps to induce relaxation of bronchial smooth muscle fibers, resulting in bronchodilation.
  • Tension headache: Magnesium causes relaxation of the muscles of the cervical spine resulting in improvement of headache.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: dose 150-300 mg daily.
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome: Dose 150-300 mg daily for magnesium to help reduce symptoms such as fluid retention, breast tenderness, lumbar pain and mood changes.
  • Osteoporosis-menopause: Mg contributes to the absorption of calcium and its deposition in the bones thus reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis, especially during menopause.
  • Arterial hypertension: Mg causes relaxation of the smooth muscle fibres of the arteries, thereby having a mild vasodilator effect.


In patients with renal insufficiency, the administration of Mg is contraindicated.

Adverse reactions/Cautions

The most common adverse reaction of magnesium is diarrhoea occurring at high doses (>450 mg).

For this reason there are pharmaceutical laxatives, which have magnesium as their main ingredient to help avoid the unpleasant symptoms.

Hypermagnesemia is a rare disorder that always occurs in patients with renal failure when ingested Mg cannot be eliminated through urination. It manifests with muscle weakness, pressure drop, electrocardiographic changes and can lead to death.

Final Take

Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps the body perform a wide range of functions. It’s responsible for hundreds of biochemical reactions, and deficiencies can lead to numerous health problems.

Magnesium supplements are available in several different forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids.

Most people should be able to meet their magnesium needs by eating a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, if you don’t get enough magnesium from your diet or you have a medical condition that affects your ability to absorb minerals, you may need to take a supplement.

Read Also

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