Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal health. Without magnesium, our body would not be able to do so many key functions that we rely on it doing such as producing energy, controlling our blood sugar and cholesterol levels and having muscles in a permanent state of contraction.
Magnesium is a macro-mineral which is required by our bodies in large amounts much like calcium, potassium, and sodium. It is needed in every cell of our body and plays a critical role in over 600 chemical reactions that keep us alive and functioning.1 It is so important that the average body holds around 25 grams of magnesium in bones and muscles, making it the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. 2
Magnesium is commonly tied up within mineral deposits in rock formations near salt water. The most plentiful source is the sea however humans generally get most of their magnesium through fruit, vegetables and nuts that draw magnesium from the soil.
Benefits of Magnesium
As a key element in over 600 biochemical reactions in the body, adequate levels of magnesium can result in numerous health benefits. Primarily acting as a supporting mineral, the availability of magnesium is essential for optimal health.
One of the most important roles magnesium plays is that of helping to create energy for our cells. The mitochondria inside our cells need magnesium to create energy for in the form of ATP to keep us alive and functioning. Without magnesium, the nutrients we absorb could not be metabolised into usable forms of energy. Our cells then use ATP to as their fuel source or energy to carry out other function such as 3
Cell reproduction – create new cells and support cell division
Protein synthesis – create new proteins from amino acid
Muscle fibre contractions – contract and relax muscles properly
Gene maintenance – create and repair DNA and RNA
Nervous system regulation – regulate messages between the brain and nervous system
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
As magnesium is constantly being used by over 600 chemical reactions in the body, helping us functioning as we should, even a slight deficiency can significantly impact our health and day to day performance. Typical signs of a magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle cramps
- High blood pressure
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, migraines, ADHD and kidney disease. 4
Scientific Evidence for Magnesium
We have put together a list and summary of some important scientific magnesium studies which outline its importance to such a wide array of functions in out body.
Magnesium Rich Foods
Magnesium is found in many vegetables, especially leafy greens, as well as in nuts, seeds and legumes. Foods with plenty of fibre are usually high in magnesium.
It is best to always try get as many vitamins and minerals from a healthy balanced diet. The magnesium in food is often absorbed far better than supplements so a small amount may go a long way.
Unfortunately, with the lowering levels of magnesium in our food, even a diet filled with these foods might not be enough for a stressed person, which is where a supplement would be necessary.
There are many popular forms of magnesium supplements out there. However, some are much better than others. Absorption rates between different types of magnesium vary between 4% and 30% which is why it is always important to check which form is being used.
Magnesium citrate offers one of the best absorption rates and is reasonably priced. It consists of magnesium bound with citric acid making it water soluble and very well absorbed.5 It is one of the most popular forms of magnesium for supplementation in top quality products.
Magnesium Glycinate is magnesium bound with the amino acid glycine, an exceptionally bioavailable form of magnesium. This type of magnesium is popular as it is less likely to cause a laxative effect while still being well absorbed.6
Avoid the poorly absorbed magnesium supplements such as oxide, gluconate, sulphate and carbonate.
Magnesium Dose Calculator
The amount of magnesium your body requires on a day to day basis is heavily dependant on your size and lifestyle. Use this calculator to get an idea of how much magnesium you should look to consume each day for optimal health.
Magnesium Dosage Calculator
Enter your weight to calculate your optimal daily dose of magnesium
Q: What does a magnesium supplement do?
Magnesium is a key mineral used in over 600 bodily processes such as muscle regulation, nerve function, blood sugar levels, bone growth, stress control and energy production. A good, well-absorbed magnesium supplement will ensure your body is not suffering from a deficiency and allow it to optimise over 600 functions.
Q: What are the symptoms of low magnesium?
If you’re low in magnesium you might experience muscle twitches and cramps, weak bones, fatigue and muscle weakness, high blood pressure, asthma, irregular heartbeat. You can read more about a magnesium deficiency here.
Q: What are the side effects of magnesium?
The side effects of magnesium vary largely depending on the type of magnesium and how much is taken. Other than feeling the benefits of magnesium, an overdose may cause loose stool and nausea if it’s too much at one time for your body to process. An overdose is unlikely to cause harm to anyone with normal kidney function. You can read more about side effects and a possible overdose here.
Q: Which foods contain magnesium?
Magnesium is present in many foods but higher levels can be found in kelp, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dark chocolate, mackerel, soybeans and dark leafy greens. You can find more in our magnesium rich food section.
Q: What is the best magnesium dosage?
The optimal magnesium dose depends largely on the individual person’s requirements. Daily intake for an average female should be at least 420mg per day and males 750mg per day. Adjust accordingly based on how your size varies from average and consider your magnesium usage. If you exercise and sweat a lot you may lose more minerals than most. If you’re constantly stressed you might also need more than the average person. Check out our magnesium dose calculator here.
Q: Which type of magnesium should I take?
Magnesium is definitely not all the same. All the different types of magnesium usually vary in what they’re chemically bound too. Some are more bioavailable than others and offer a second benefit in the bound chemical.
Magnesium citrate a well absorbed affordable form of magnesium but at high doses is not well tolerated by the gut. Magnesium malate is a great form due to its slow release property. Being bound to malic acid which also has it’s own health benefits, it’s absorbed well, but slower than most. Chelated forms like magnesium glycinate are generally well absorbed and easy on the gut because they’re bound to amino acids our body recognises and can use. Check out our magnesium supplement buying guide or all the various types of magnesium supplements for more recommendations.
Q: Can I overdose on magnesium?
A magnesium overdose would be very rare with the conservative recommendations on products. Most people that consume an excess of magnesium will excrete it without any issues and might know about it with some diarrhea. People who have impaired kidney function are the ones at risk for a magnesium overdose if they exceed recommendations and cannot process the magnesium. You can read more about a magnesium overdose here.
Biosphere Magnesium Supplement
We’ve created a magnesium supplement with a combination of thee types of highly absorbable magnesium at a therapeutic dose. Our magnesium comes as an easy to mix, great tasting powder to ensure optimal absorption. To learn more about our magnesium, check out the product page here.
To check out the reviews for our Biosphere Magnesium and to find out what people are saying about Magnesium, visit the product page here.
Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM
Dr Ron Goedeke, specialises in alternative and functional medicine. He is a foundation member of the New Zealand college of Appearance medicine and has been a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine since 1999. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.
 Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.
Last updated on the 1st of February 2019