Magnesium is a mineral essential for optimal health, without it, we would not be able to produce energy, we could not control our blood cholesterol levels and our muscles would be in a permanent state of contraction. Magnesium is a macro-mineral which is required by our bodies in large amounts such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. It is needed in every cell of our body and plays a critical role in over 300 more chemical reactions in our bodies that keep us alive and functioning.
There are over 300 bodily processes that we can’t execute properly and to full effect if we are deficient in magnesium. It is so important that the average body holds around 25 grams of it through bones and muscles, making it the second most abundant element in human cells. Magnesium is commonly tied up within mineral deposits in rock formations near salt water. The most plentiful source is the sea.
Benefits of Magnesium
As a key element in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, adequate levels of magnesium 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 it 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:
- Cell reproduction
- Protein synthesis
- Muscle fibre contractions
- Transportation of calcium and potassium across cell membranes (vital for a regular heart beat)
Magnesium benefits have become known and understood far better over the last few years recommendations should be doubled. Researchers suggest current daily recommendations should be doubled as magnesium is now considered to be a key to overall wellness.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
Magnesium is constantly being used by over 300 bodily processes, helping us functioning as we should. Even a slight deficiency can significantly impact our health and day to day performance. Unfortunately a magnesium deficiency is very hard to diagnose without a blood test as it can present itself in so many forms.
A leading driver of deficiency may be stress, as our bodies use up magnesium in stressful times to help our bodies cope. Lower levels of magnesium tend to make stressful situations harder to deal with, creating a difficult stressful cycle.5
The World Health Organisation have published reports that estimate around 75% of Americans do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium which sits at 320-420mg per day. However, according to experts this currently recommended daily intake is inadequate to prevent magnesium deficiency and is nowhere near the optimal daily intake which sits around 500mg for females and 750mg for males. This realisation would push true deficiency rates in the US towards 90%.6
In the year 1900 the average magnesium intake was 500mg per day and now it is around 200mg per day.7 This huge reduction in magnesium levels is largely due to the modern day diet of processed foods, the slow depletion of minerals from our soil, and the stressful lives we live.
What the medical studies are saying
Magnesium’s potential to lower blood pressure
Data from 34 randomised, double blind placebo- controlled trials involving 2028 participants, indicated that there is a casual effect of magnesium supplementation lowering blood pressure in adults. The meta analysis published in the Journal Hypertension, supports the cardiovascular benefits of magnesium.
Magnesium may reduce stroke risk: Meta-analysis
Collecting data from seven studies showed that for every 100mg per day increase in magnesium intake, the risk of stroke was reduced about 9%. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Low magnesium levels may increase stroke risk
Increasing levels of magnesium could decrease the risk of ischemic stroke with the effects related to magnesium’s benefits on blood pressure and for diabetics, According to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology
More magnesium-rich food for less diabetes – meta-analysis
Eating more magnesium rich foods like green leafy vegetables and nuts may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes according to a meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Magnesium linked to lower metabolic syndrome risk: Meta-analysis
Increased dietary intakes of magnesium may reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 30% according to meta-analysis of six studies. The risk of having metabolic syndrome decreased by 17% for every 100mg per day increase in magnesium published in Diabetic Medicine.
Dietary magnesium may lower risk of death from heart disease
Increased intakes of magnesium in the diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality by about 50%, suggest study from Japan. With data collected over 14.7 years from 58,615 healthy japanease aged between 40-79 indicated reductions in the risk of cardiovascular events according to a paper published in Atherosclerosis.
Magnesium may benefit blood pressure in hypertensives
Supplemental magnesium may reduce blood pressure people with high blood pressure. The findings suggest that magnesium supplementation may help prevent the progression of hypertension in people with high blood pressure. Published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
Study highlights vital role of magnesium in type 2 diabetes
The study found that long term hyperglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes increases the risk of chronic complications such as nephropathy and may aggravate other clinical conditions associated with diabetes. The authors said adequate magnesium is essential for people with diabetes and was published in Clinical Nutrition
Dietary magnesium may reduce the risk of colon cancer: Meta-analysis
According to a meta analysis from the Imperial College London and Wageningen University increased intakes of magnesium in the diet may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For every 100mg increase in intake of magnesium, the risk of colorectal cancer decreased by 12% and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Magnesium supplements show potential anti-inflammatory effects: Meta-analysis
Researchers focused on C-reactive protein, an established marker of inflammation and found that magnesium supplementation was associated with significant reductions in CRP. The findings suggest magnesium supplements may have a beneficial role as management of low-grade chronic inflammation according to the Current Pharmaceutical Design
Magnesium deficiency may contribute to osteoporosis rise
A study has found prolonged magnesium deficiency leads to osteoporosis in rats which could present a warning to certain populations not getting enough magnesium in their diets. The researchers found the bone density in the magnesium group to be significantly higher than the control and found indicators of osteoporosis in the control group according to the report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Magnesium shows insulin benefits in non-diabetics: Study
Study finds increased intakes of magnesium are associated with decreased metabolic biomarkers of insulin resistance in non-diabetics. Those subjects with the highest magnesium in takes exhibited significantly less insulin resistance according to findings published in Nutrients.
Magnesium supplements may boost physical performance for older women: RCT
A study run by scientists from the University of Padova included a magnesium group and placebo group. The magnesium group had a significantly better short physical performance score as well as improvements in chair stand times and walking speeds compared to the placebo. The findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying age-related decline in physical performance.
Magnesium supplements could help asthmatics, says study
Children with asthma taking magnesium supplements experienced a decrease in the severity of their asthma and used less medication according to a clinical trial from Brazil. The group that received the magnesium experienced a significant improvement in bronchial responsiveness and reduced the use of salbutamol, an asthma medication by almost 40%. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Magnesium Rich Foods
10 Great Sources of Natural Magnesium
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.8
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.
One must also be aware that when we cook our food, the chemical structure changes, and more often than note there is a decrease in vitamins and minerals. For example, when kale and spinach are boiled for 2 minutes, there is a reduction in magnesium of around 25%.
The optimal daily dose of magnesium is between 500 – 750mg per day depending on size and gender.
Other notable magnesium-rich foods include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Flax seeds
- Wild Salmon
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
Which form of Magnesium is best and how much should I take?
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 60% which is why it is always important to check which form is being used.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adult males is 420mg, but the optimal daily intake for adult males is around 750mg.9
Most people will not be getting anywhere these levels in their diet that is where a quality magnesium supplement can be beneficial.
Types of Magnesium you may find in supplements include:
Magnesium Chelates – These are forms of magnesium that are chemically bound to another molecule that make the magnesium more likely to survive the trip from the stomach to the small intestine. Magnesium chelates have the potential to offer far greater absorption rates with the right molecules. With so many forms of magnesium supplements out there it can be hard to know which one is best for you.10
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. It is one of the most popular forms of magnesium for supplementation in top quality products, however it can cause an upset stomach at high for some people.
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.11
Avoid the poorly absorbed magnesium supplements such as oxide, gluconate, sulphate and carbonate.
Magnesium oxide tends to have high levels of elemental magnesium, but its absorption or bioavailability is extremely low around 4%.12
Magnesium aspartate should also be avoided as its bioavailability is low and it breaks down into a neurotoxin.13
The Biosphere Magnesium Difference
Biosphere Magnesium sachets offer a combination of three types of highly absorbable magnesium at a therapeutic dose. With 400mg of total elemental magnesium in each sachet you only require 1 per day, ideally at night after dinner. The most bioavailable types of magnesium are those that dissolve well into liquid, spreading into microscopic particles and allowing the magnesium to be completely absorbed into the gut which is why magnesium citrate, magnesium malate and magnesium glycinate chelate have been used.3
As magnesium requires a carrier to be absorbed, it is important to choose well-absorbed carriers to ensure most of the magnesium gets absorbed into the body. Approximately 20% of the carrier powder is elemental magnesium which in our powder is citric acid, malic acid and the amino acid, lyscine.
Our powders have been naturally coloured a shade of yellow using a dash of turmeric powder and have been sweetened with a combination of the natural sweeteners stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract. With no nasty ingredients you can be sure you’re getting a healthy supplement that you can feel good about taking everyday.
Why We Chose Powders over Pills
Our magnesium supplement comes in a powder form to ensure optimal absorption. We want you to actually absorb and benefit from as much of the magnesium as possible. Starting with a powder was a key factor, then choosing the forms that our body best absorbs.
In most cases, magnesium is a very safe mineral to take as our body stores it and uses it on a regular basis. In excess amounts, magnesium side effects may include an upset stomach, dizziness, loose stools, or diarrhoea. If small amounts of magnesium cause you an upset stomach, switch to magnesium glycinate as it is easy on the stomach and well absorbed.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adult males is 420mg, but the optimal daily intake for adult males is around 750mg and 500mg for females.
For people looking to reverse a magnesium deficiency, look to take a large magnesium dose twice a day to prevent an upset stomach.
Magnesium is safe for children at lower doses.
Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM – Updated August 2018
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.
 Lieberman, S., & Bruning, N. (2007). The real vitamin and mineral book: The definitive guide to designing your personal supplement program (4th ed.). New York: Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA).