Magnesium (Mg)

Brief description

Magnesium (Mg) is one of the most abundant minerals in nature and the fourth most abundant mineral in living organisms. It is involved in many key metabolic reactions such as energy production, synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, and oxidative reactions. Magnesium is very important for the health of the immune and nervous systems, muscles and skeleton. Interacting with other trace elements (calcium, sodium, potassium), it is very important for the health of the whole body[1].

Magnesium-rich foods

Indicated approximate availability of mg in 100 g of product[3]:

Daily need

In 1993, the European Scientific Committee on Nutrition determined that an acceptable dose of magnesium per day for an adult would be 150 to 500 mg per day.

Based on research findings, the US Food and Nutrition Board established a Recommended Diet (RDA) for magnesium in 1997. It depends on the age and gender of the person:

In 2010, it was found that about 60% of adults in the United States do not consume enough magnesium in their diet.[4].

The daily need for magnesium increases with some diseases: convulsions in newborns, hyperlipidemia, lithium poisoning, hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, hepatitis, phlebitis, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, digoxin poisoning.

In addition, a larger amount of magnesium is advised to use when:

  • alcohol abuse: it has been proven that excessive alcohol consumption leads to increased excretion of magnesium through the kidneys;
  • taking certain medications;
  • breastfeeding multiple babies;
  • in old age: Several studies have shown that magnesium intake in older people is often insufficient, both for physiological reasons, and because of difficulties in preparing food, buying groceries, etc.

The daily requirement for magnesium decreases with poor kidney function. In such cases, excess magnesium in the body (primarily when taking dietary supplements) can be toxic.[2].

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Magnesium benefits and effects on the body

More than half of the body’s magnesium is found in bones, where it plays an important role in their growth and maintenance of their health. Most of the rest of the mineral is found in muscles and soft tissues, and only 1% is in the extracellular fluid. Bone magnesium serves as a reservoir for maintaining the normal concentration of magnesium in the blood.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 major metabolic reactions such as the synthesis of our genetic material (DNA / RNA) and proteins, in the growth and reproduction of cells, and in the production and storage of energy. Magnesium is important for the formation of the body’s main energy compound – adenosine triphosphate – which all our cells need[10].

Health benefits

  • Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is needed by all cells of our body, without exception, for energy production, protein production, maintenance of genes, muscles and the nervous system.
  • Magnesium can improve the performance of sports. Depending on the sport, the body needs 10-20% more magnesium. It aids in the transport of glucose to muscles and in the processing of lactic acid, which can lead to pain after exercise. Research shows that supplementing with magnesium increases exercise performance in professional athletes, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions.
  • Magnesium helps fight depression. Magnesium plays a key role in brain function and mood regulation, and low levels in the body are associated with an increased risk of depression. Some scientists believe that a lack of magnesium in modern foods may be responsible for many cases of depression and other mental illnesses.
  • Magnesium is good for people with type 2 diabetes. Research shows that 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low blood levels of magnesium. This can impair the ability of insulin to control blood sugar levels. Another study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took high doses of magnesium every day experienced significant improvements in blood sugar and hemoglobin levels.
  • Magnesium helps lower blood pressure levels. One study found that people taking 450 mg of magnesium per day experienced significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It should be noted that the results of the study were observed in people with high blood pressure, and did not lead to any changes in people with normal blood pressure.
  • Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties. Low magnesium intake has been linked to chronic inflammation, which is a contributing factor to aging, obesity, and chronic disease. Research shows that children, the elderly, obese people and people with diabetes have low blood magnesium levels and increased markers of inflammation.
  • Magnesium can help prevent migraines. Some researchers believe that people with migraines are more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency than others. In one study, supplementation with 1 gram of magnesium helped relieve an acute migraine attack faster and more effectively than conventional medication. Plus, foods rich in magnesium can help reduce migraine symptoms.
  • Magnesium reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. It is characterized by an impaired ability of muscle and liver cells to properly absorb sugar from the blood. Magnesium plays a critical role in this process. In addition, high insulin levels increase the amount of magnesium excreted in the urine.
  • Magnesium helps with PMS. Magnesium helps with PMS symptoms such as water retention, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and irritability[5].


With a growing magnesium deficiency, the question often arises: how to get enough of it from your daily diet? Many people are unaware of the fact that the amount of magnesium in modern foods has dropped significantly. For example, vegetables contain 25-80% less magnesium, and when processing pasta and bread, 80-95% of all magnesium is destroyed. Sources of magnesium, which were once widely consumed, have declined in the past century due to industrial agriculture and dietary changes. The foods richest in magnesium are beans and nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat. Given current eating habits, one can understand how difficult it is to reach the recommended 100% daily value for magnesium. Most foods high in magnesium are consumed in too small amounts.

The absorption of magnesium also varies, sometimes reaching as little as 20%. The absorption of magnesium is influenced by factors such as phytic and oxalic acids, medications taken, age, and genetic factors.

There are three main reasons why we don’t get enough magnesium from our diet:

  1. 1 industrial food processing;
  2. 2 the composition of the soil in which the product is grown;
  3. 3 changes in eating habits.

Food processing essentially separates plant food sources into components – for ease of use and to reduce spoilage. When processing grain into white flour, the bran and germ are removed. When processing seeds and nuts into refined oils, the food is overheated and the magnesium content is deformed or removed by chemical additives. 80-97 percent of magnesium is removed from refined grains, and at least twenty nutrients are removed in refined flour. Only five of these are added back when “enriched,” and magnesium is not one of them. In addition, when processing food, the number of calories increases. Refined sugar loses all magnesium. Molasses, which is removed from sugar cane during refining, contains up to 25% of the daily value of magnesium in one tablespoon. It is absent in sugar at all.

The soil in which the products are grown also has a huge impact on the amount of nutrients contained in these products. Experts say that the quality of our crops is declining significantly. For example, in America, the content of nutrients in the soil has decreased by 40% compared to 1950. The reason for this is considered to be attempts to increase yields. And when crops grow faster and larger, they are not always able to produce or absorb nutrients on time. The amount of magnesium has decreased in all food products – meat, grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products. In addition, pesticides destroy the organisms that provide plants with nutrients. Reduces the number of vitamin-binding bacteria in the soil and earthworms[6].

In 2006, the World Health Organization published data that 75% of adults eat diets containing magnesium deficiency.[7].

Healthy food combinations

  • Magnesium + vitamin B6. The magnesium found in nuts and seeds helps regulate blood pressure, prevent vascular hardening, and maintain a regular heart rate. Vitamin B6 helps the body absorb magnesium. To increase your magnesium intake, try foods such as almonds, spinach; and for higher amounts of vitamin B6, opt for raw fruits and vegetables such as bananas.
  • Magnesium + Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate blood pressure and improves heart health. But in order for it to be fully absorbed, it needs magnesium. Without magnesium, vitamin D cannot be converted to its active form, calcitriol. Milk and fish are good sources of vitamin D, and can be combined with spinach, almonds and black beans. In addition, calcium is required for the absorption of vitamin D.[8].
  • Magnesium + vitamin B1. Magnesium is essential for the conversion of thiamine to its active form, as well as for some thiamine-dependent enzymes.
  • Magnesium + potassium. Magnesium is needed for the assimilation of potassium in the cells of the body. And a balanced combination of magnesium, calcium, and potassium may lower your risk of stroke.[9].

Magnesium is an essential electrolyte and is necessary in combination with calcium, potassium, sodium, as well as phosphorus and many trace elements contained in mineral and salt compounds. It is highly regarded by athletes, usually when combined with zinc, for its effects on strength endurance and muscle recovery, especially when combined with adequate fluid intake. Electrolytes are essential for every cell in the body and are absolutely essential for proper cellular function. They are very important in allowing cells to generate energy, to regulate fluids, providing the minerals needed for excitability, secretory activity, membrane permeability and general cellular activity. They generate electricity, contract muscles, move water and fluids in the body, and participate in a variety of other activities.

The concentration of electrolytes in the body is controlled by various hormones, most of which are produced in the kidneys and adrenal glands. Sensors in specialized kidney cells monitor the amount of sodium, potassium and water in the blood.

Electrolytes can be eliminated from the body through sweat, feces, vomit, and urine. Many gastrointestinal disorders (including gastrointestinal absorption) cause dehydration, as do diuretic therapy and serious tissue trauma such as burns. As a result, some people may experience hypomagnesemia – a lack of magnesium in the blood.

Cooking rules

Like other minerals, magnesium is resistant to heat, air, acids, or mixing with other substances.[10].

In official medicine

High blood pressure and heart disease

Results from clinical trials using magnesium supplements to treat abnormally high blood pressure are conflicting. Long-term clinical trials are needed to determine if magnesium has any therapeutic benefit in people with essential hypertension. However, magnesium is essential for heart health. This mineral is especially important in maintaining a normal heart rate and is often used by doctors to treat arrhythmias, especially in people with congestive heart failure. However, results from studies using magnesium to treat heart attack survivors have been conflicting. While some studies have reported reduced mortality as well as reduced arrhythmias and improved blood pressure, other studies have shown no such effects.


Stroke nutrition. Useful and dangerous products.


Population studies show that people with low magnesium in their diets may have a greater risk of stroke. Some preliminary clinical evidence suggests that magnesium sulfate may be useful in the treatment of stroke or temporary disruption of blood supply to an area of ​​the brain.


This is a condition characterized by a sharp increase in blood pressure in the third trimester of pregnancy. Women with preeclampsia may develop seizures, which are then called eclampsia. Intravenous magnesium is a medication to prevent or treat seizures associated with eclampsia.


Type 2 diabetes is associated with low levels of magnesium in the blood. There is evidence from clinical research that higher dietary magnesium intake may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes. Magnesium has been found to improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, magnesium deficiency in diabetics can reduce their immunity, making them more vulnerable to infection and disease.


Deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and other trace minerals are thought to play a role in the development of osteoporosis. Adequate intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, combined with overall good nutrition and exercise during childhood and adulthood, is the primary preventive measure for men and women.


Nutrition for migraines. Useful and dangerous products.


Magnesium levels are generally lower in those with migraines, including children and adolescents. Additionally, some clinical studies show that magnesium supplements can reduce the duration of migraines and the amount of medication taken.

Some experts believe that oral magnesium may be a suitable alternative to prescription medication for people who suffer from migraines. Magnesium supplements can be a viable option for those who cannot take their medication due to side effects, pregnancy, or heart disease.


A population-based study has shown that low dietary magnesium intake may be associated with a risk of developing asthma in children and adults. In addition, some clinical studies show that intravenous and inhaled magnesium can help treat acute asthma attacks in children and adults.

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Some experts believe that children with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have mild magnesium deficiency, which manifests itself in symptoms such as irritability and decreased concentration. In one clinical study, 95% of children with ADHD were magnesium deficient. In another clinical study, children with ADHD who received magnesium showed significant improvement in behavior, while those who received only standard therapy without magnesium showed worsening behavior. These results suggest that magnesium supplements may be beneficial for children with ADHD.


Nutrition for constipation. Useful and dangerous products.


Taking magnesium has a laxative effect, relieving conditions during constipation.[20].

Infertility and miscarriage

A small clinical study of infertile women and women with a history of miscarriage has shown that low magnesium levels can impair fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage. It has been suggested that magnesium and selenium should be one aspect of fertility treatment.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Scientific evidence and clinical experience shows that magnesium supplementation can help relieve symptoms associated with PMS, such as bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness. Plus, magnesium can help improve mood in PMS.[4].

Stress and sleep problems

Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. People with low magnesium levels often experience restless sleep, often waking up at night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often results in deeper, more sound sleep. Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining deep restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep). In addition, low levels of GABA in the body can make it difficult to relax. Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating the body’s stress response system. Magnesium deficiency linked to increased stress and anxiety[21].

In pregnancy

Many pregnant women complain of cramps and vague abdominal pain that can occur due to magnesium deficiency. Other symptoms of magnesium deficiency are palpitations and exhaustion. All of them, as such, are not yet a cause for concern, but, nevertheless, you should listen to your body’s signals and, possibly, take a magnesium deficiency test. If a severe magnesium deficiency occurs during pregnancy, the uterus loses its ability to relax. Consequently, seizures occur, which can cause premature contractions – and lead to premature birth in severe cases. With magnesium deficiency, the balancing effect on the cardiovascular system ceases and the risk of developing hypertension in pregnant women increases. In addition, magnesium deficiency is thought to be the cause of preeclampsia and increased nausea during pregnancy.

In folk medicine

Traditional medicine recognizes the tonic and calming effects of magnesium. In addition, according to folk recipes, magnesium has diuretic, choleretic and antimicrobial effects. It prevents aging and inflammation[11]… One of the ways magnesium enters the body is through the transdermal route – through the skin. It is applied by rubbing a magnesium chloride compound into the skin in the form of an oil, gel, bath salts or lotion. A magnesium chloride foot bath is also an effective method, since the foot is considered one of the most absorbent surfaces of the body. Athletes, chiropractors, and massage therapists apply magnesium chloride to painful muscles and joints. This method not only provides the medical effect of magnesium, but also the benefits of massaging and rubbing the affected areas.[12].

In scientific research

  • A new method for predicting the risk of preeclampsia. Australian researchers have developed a way to predict the onset of an extremely dangerous pregnancy disease that kills 76 women and half a million children every year, mostly in developing countries. It is a simple and inexpensive way to predict the onset of preeclampsia, which can lead to complications in women and children, including maternal brain and liver trauma and premature birth. The researchers assessed the health of 000 pregnant women using a special questionnaire. Combining measures of fatigue, heart health, digestion, immunity, and mental health, the questionnaire provides an overall “suboptimal health score.” Further, the results were combined with blood tests that measured calcium and magnesium levels in the blood. Researchers were able to accurately predict the development of preeclampsia in almost 593 percent of cases.[13].
  • New details on how magnesium protects cells from infection. When pathogens enter cells, our body fights them using various methods. Researchers at the University of Basel were able to show exactly how cells control invading pathogens. This mechanism causes magnesium deficiency, which in turn limits bacterial growth, the researchers report.When pathogenic microorganisms infect the body, the defense system immediately begins to fight the bacteria. To avoid “meeting” immune cells, some bacteria invade and multiply within the body’s own cells. However, these cells have different strategies to keep intracellular bacteria in check. Scientists have found that magnesium is critical for bacterial growth within host cells. Magnesium starvation is a stressful factor for bacteria, which stops their growth and reproduction. Affected cells restrict the supply of magnesium to these intracellular pathogens, thus fighting infections [14].
  • A new method of treating heart failure. Research shows that magnesium improves previously untreated heart failure. In a research paper, scientists at the University of Minnesota discovered that magnesium can be used to treat diastolic heart failure. “We found that cardiac mitochondrial oxidative stress can cause diastolic dysfunction. Since magnesium is essential for mitochondrial function, we decided to try supplementation as a treatment, ”explained the study leader. “It removes the weak heart relaxation that causes diastolic heart failure.”Obesity and diabetes are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that magnesium supplementation also improved mitochondrial function and blood glucose levels in subjects. [15].

In cosmetology

Magnesium oxide is often used in beauty care products. It is absorbent and mattifying. In addition, magnesium reduces acne and inflammation, skin allergies, and supports collagen function. It is found in many serums, lotions and emulsions.

The balance of magnesium in the body also affects the condition of the skin. Its deficiency leads to a decrease in the level of fatty acids on the skin, which reduces its elasticity and hydration. As a result, the skin becomes dry and loses its tone, wrinkles appear. It is necessary to start taking care of sufficient amount of magnesium in the body after 20 years, when the level of the antioxidant glutathione reaches its peak. In addition, magnesium supports a healthy immune system, which helps fight the harmful effects of toxins and pathological organisms on skin health.[16].

For losing weight

While magnesium alone does not directly affect weight loss, it does have a large impact on a number of other factors that contribute to weight loss:

  • positively affects the metabolism of glucose in the body;
  • reduces stress and improves sleep quality;
  • charges cells with the energy necessary for sports;
  • plays a key role in muscle contraction;
  • helps to improve the overall quality of training and endurance;
  • supports heart health and rhythm;
  • helps fight inflammation;
  • improves mood[17].

Interesting Facts

  • Magnesium tastes sour. Adding it to drinking water makes it a little tart.
  • Magnesium is the 9th most abundant mineral in the universe and the 8th most abundant mineral on the Earth’s surface.
  • Magnesium was first demonstrated in 1755 by the Scottish scientist Joseph Black, and first isolated in 1808 by the English chemist Humphrey Davey.[18].
  • Magnesium has been considered one with calcium for many years.[19].

Magnesium harm and warnings

Signs of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is rare in healthy people who eat a balanced diet. The risk of magnesium deficiency is increased in people with gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disorders, and chronic alcoholism. In addition, the absorption of magnesium in the digestive tract tends to decrease, and the excretion of magnesium in the urine tends to increase with age.

Although severe magnesium deficiency is rare, it has been shown experimentally to result in low serum calcium and potassium levels, neurological and muscle symptoms (eg, spasms), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and personality changes.

Several chronic diseases – Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, migraines, and ADHD – have been associated with hypomagnesemia[4].

Signs of excess magnesium

Side effects from excess magnesium (eg, diarrhea) have been observed with magnesium supplements.

Individuals with impaired kidney function are at a higher risk of side effects when taking magnesium.

Elevated levels of magnesium in the blood (“hypermagnesemia”) can lead to a drop in blood pressure (“hypotension”). Some of the effects of magnesium toxicity, such as lethargy, confusion, abnormal heart rhythms, and impaired renal function, are associated with severe hypotension. As hypermagnesemia develops, muscle weakness and difficulty breathing may also occur.

Interaction with medicines

Magnesium supplements can interact with some medications:

  • antacids can impair the absorption of magnesium;
  • some antibiotics affect muscle function, like magnesium – taking them at the same time can lead to muscle problems;
  • taking heart medications can interact with the effects of magnesium on the cardiovascular system;
  • when taken concomitantly with diabetes medications, magnesium can put you at risk of low blood sugar;
  • you should be careful when taking magnesium with drugs to relax muscles;

If you are taking any medications or supplements, consult your healthcare professional[20].

Information sources
  1. Costello, Rebecca et al. “.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)vol. 7,1 199-201. 15 Jan. 2016, doi:10.3945/an.115.008524
  2. Jennifer J. Otten, Jennifer Pitzi Hellwig, and Linda D. Meyers. “Magnesium.” Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. National Academies, 2006. 340-49.
  3. A. A. Welch, H. Fransen, M. Jenab, M. C. Boutron-Ruault, R. Tumino, C. Agnoli, U. Ericson, I. Johansson, P. Ferrari, D. Engeset, E. Lund, M. Lentjes, T. Key, M. Touvier, M. Niravong, et al. “Variation in Intakes of , , Magnesium, and in 10 Countries in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63.S4 (2009): S101-21.
  4. Magnesium. Nutri-Facts Source
  5. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium,
  6. Magnesium in the Diet : The Bad News about Magnesium Food Sources,
  7. World Health Organization. Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water : Public health significance. Geneva : World Health Organization Press ; 2009.
  8. 6 Best Nutrient Pairings for Your Heart,
  9. Vitamin and Mineral Interactions: The Complex Relationships of Essential Nutrients,
  10. Vitamins and Minerals: a brief guide, source
  11. Valentin Rebrov. Pearls of traditional medicine. Unique recipes of practicing healers in Russia.
  12. Magnesium Connection. Health and Wisdom,
  13. Enoch Odame Anto, Peter Roberts, David Coall, Cornelius Archer Turpin, Eric Adua, Youxin Wang, Wei Wang. Integration of suboptimal health status evaluation as a criterion for prediction of preeclampsia is strongly recommended for healthcare management in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study in a Ghanaian population. EPMA Journal, 2019; 10 (3): 211 DOI: 10.1007/s13167-019-00183-0
  14. Olivier Cunrath and Dirk Bumann. Host resistance factor SLC11A1 restricts Salmonella growth through magnesium deprivation. Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aax7898
  15. Man Liu, Euy-Myoung Jeong, Hong Liu, An Xie, Eui Young So, Guangbin Shi, Go Eun Jeong, Anyu Zhou, Samuel C. Dudley. Magnesium supplementation improves diabetic mitochondrial and cardiac diastolic function. JCI Insight, 2019; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.123182
  16. How magnesium can improve your skin – from anti-ageing to adult acne,
  17. 8 Reasons to Consider Magnesium for Weight Loss,
  18. Magnesium Facts, source
  19. Elements for Kids. Magnesium,
  20. Magnesium. Are there any interactions with other medications?
  21. What you need to know about magnesium and your sleep,
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