Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. About half is found in the skeletal system and the other half is found in the cells of body tissues and organs. Only a small percentage is found in the blood.
Magnesium is required for more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. This mineral is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Magnesium keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong.
Magnesium along with calcium helps to helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Magnesium deficiency can trigger muscle tension, muscle soreness, muscle spasms, muscle cramps and muscle fatigue. Since magnesium has the ability to relax our muscles and nerves, it is sometimes referred to as the “anti-stress” mineral.
Magnesium plays a role in bone health by improving bone mineral density. Along with calcium and phosphorous, magnesium helps to build the lattice-work of the bones. Magnesium appears to facilitate calcium absorption. The softening and weakening of bone can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Numerous population and clinical studies show an association between high magnesium dietary intake and lower blood pressure. Many of the foods that are high in magnesium are also high in potassium and dietary fiber. Each of these nutrients plays a role in maintaining blood pressure.
Magnesium may also play a role in diabetes. Insulin helps convert glucose into energy that the body can use. In diabetes, especially Type II or adult onset, cells become resistant to insulin. Magnesium plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism by influencing the release and activity of insulin. Low levels of magnesium are frequently seen in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. In two large studies, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was greater in men and women with a lower magnesium intake.
Important for converting blood sugar into energy
Assists with calcium and potassium uptake
Essential for effective nerve and muscle functioning
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are excellent sources of magnesium because the center of the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium (gives green vegetables their color).
Some legumes like beans and peas (soybeans and soyfoods, peanuts, blackeyed peas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans); nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews) and potatoes (with skin on) are also good sources. Whole grains are a good source of magnesium whereas refined grains are not. The refining process removes the germ and endosperm – the part of the plant that is rich in magnesium.
Other foods that contain magnesium include some spices (coriander, dill weed, celery seed, sage, dried mustard, basil, fennel seed, savory, cumin seed, tarragon, marjoram, poppy seed), coffee, cocoa and tea.
In some foods like spinach, blanching, steaming or boiling can result in a significant loss of the magnesium content. Other foods like peanuts, when roasted or made into peanut butter, do not lose an appreciable amount of magnesium.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium 420 mg for adult men and 320 mg for adult women. While the upper level intake is 350 mg for adults there is no evidence of adverse effects from consumption of naturally occurring magnesium in foods. Excess magnesium is filtered by the kidneys making it difficult to overdose on magnesium from dietary sources alone. A person’s need for magnesium increases during pregnancy, recovering from surgery or illness and after athletic training.
National health surveys indicate that two-thirds of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Older adults and African Americans are most likely to be magnesium deficient than younger adults and Caucasians.
If you look on a nutritional supplement facts panel, you’ll notice the Amount Per Serving for magnesium and the % Daily Values is at located at the top of the panel. The Amount Per Serving is based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for this nutrient which is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all (97–98%) healthy individuals in each life-stage and sex group. The Reference Daily Intake for magnesium is 400 mg which represents 100% of the Daily Values.
Magnesium supplements are available in many forms including magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate and magnesium carbonate. Each of these forms contains a different amount of elemental magnesium or the amount of elemental magnesium in the compound. While magnesium oxide is one of the most common because it has the highest amount of elemental magnesium (60%), it has been reported to be the least bioavailable. Other forms such as magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, magnesium lactate and magnesium chelate are more bioavailable.
Certain medications including diuretics, antibiotics and drugs used to treat cancer may result in magnesium deficiency. Alcoholics and those with chronic malabsorptive problems like Crohn’s disease and gluten sensitivity are also likely to be magnesium deficient. Excess intake of coffee, soda, salt or alcohol as well as heavy menstrual periods, excessive sweating and prolonged stress can also deplete magenesium levels.
Magnesium-containing antacids and laxatives may lead to excessive magnesium consumption.
Due to its role in muscle and nerve function, blood pressure maintenance and bone health, many of VitaMedica’s products are formulated with magnesium chelate.
Due to its role in bone maintenance, Bone Support is formulated with 450 mg of magnesium along with other bone health nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K and boron. Our Multi-Vitamin & Mineral is also formulated with this amount of magnesium. Anti-Aging Formula is formulated with 350 mg of magnesium.
Last updated July 1, 2018
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.