Magnesium’s benefits can include reduced symptoms from conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. Magnesium may also provide protection from a number of chronic diseases, especially those associated with aging and stress.
Recently re-discovered as an overlooked key to good health, a number of medical researchers are recommending increases to the RDA for magnesium — sometimes suggesting as much as double the current recommendations — to ensure protection from diseases such as osteoporosis and hypertension.
Essential to life, necessary for good health, and a vital component within our cells, magnesium’s benefits help our bodies maintain balance, avoid illness, perform well under stress, and maintain a general state of good health.
In This Section
Explore studies linking low magnesium intake to chronic disease, and learn how this miracle mineral performs so many functions in the healthy human system.
Health Benefits of Magnesium
Discover magnesium’s value for preventive health and increased physical performance, including an overview of published studies on its potential to address a variety of conditions and symptoms.
What is Magnesium? How It Functions in the Body
Learn how magnesium is used by the cells to produce and store energy, regulate electrolyte balance, and prevent cell mutations.
Magnesium Facts and Info.
Highlights of the most interesting and amazing facts about magnesium.
What Conditions Can Benefit from Magnesium?
Magnesium is known to reduce muscle tension, lessen pain associated with migraine headaches, improve sleep, and address neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Conditions linked to magnesium levels include:
Mental Health and Sleep:
Magnesium works within our cells — the powerhouses, factories and regulators of the body’s systems.
Because it is a necessary part of hundreds of biochemical reactions occurring constantly inside our cells, magnesium’s presence or absence affects the brain, the muscles, and the heart and blood vessels.
What are the Effects of Magnesium?
While many are aware of the importance of calcium, the parallel and in some ways even more crucial role of another essential mineral — magnesium — is less widely known. As a result, adequate magnesium intake is rare, especially in the U.S.
There are fifteen essential minerals required by our bodies to function properly. These can be divided into “trace minerals”, those required in very small amounts, and “macro-minerals” or “major minerals”, those required in larger amounts.
The six major minerals required in excess of 250 mg per day include:
The body needs these minerals on a regular basis as it cannot manufacture them. Four percent of the body’s weight is made up of minerals, but their function as regulators is vast.
Magnesium impacts nearly all of systems of the body due to its cellular and molecular function. As a fundamental ion in the body (a charged particle soluble in water) magnesium is utilized in key chemical reactions on a microscopic level throughout the body’s cells, including its vital role as a co-factor to over 300 enzyme functions, and its role in DNA and RNA stability.1 2
Magnesium’s effect on the body can be as intense as that of many prescription drugs, because magnesium functions as a regulator of electrolyte balance, metabolism, and other biochemical reactions.
Unlike prescription drugs, however, magnesium is recognized as an essential component of the body, not a foreign element. When supplied sufficiently, magnesium is actually conserved by the body for future use. Medications, on the other hand, tend to treat only one symptom or disease, and are flushed out of the body as toxins, thus taxing the liver and the body’s detoxification systems.
- Is an important factor in muscle relaxation and heart health
- Allows nerves to send messages in the brain and nervous system
- Aids and regulates the body’s use of calcium and other minerals
- Assists in bone and teeth formation
- Regulates the metabolism of nutrients such as protein, nucleic acids, fats and carbohydrates
- Regulates cholesterol production and helps modulate insulin sensitivity3
- Assists in energy production, DNA transcription and protein synthesis2
- Maintains the structural health of cell membranes throughout the body
Healthy magnesium levels have been linked to lowered blood pressure, reduced incidence of type II diabetes, emergency migraine treatment, reduced symptoms of asthma, and improved memory.
Magnesium is also a healthy part of bone and a necessary element in healthy calcium regulation. Increased magnesium has been linked to reduced bone loss in older adults.
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
Magnesium is distinguished as being not only one of the most vital and essential enzyme co-factors, regulating more reactions than any other mineral, but it is also responsible for two of the most important cellular functions: energy production and cellular reproduction.
When we don’t take in adequate magnesium, our bodies will either remove magnesium from our bones or function in deficiency.Magnesium and other minerals absorbed into the body are utilized as “ions” and circulated throughout the body via the blood. There, magnesium is used by our cells in order to perform routine functions such as creating energy, building hormones, maintaining cells, and bodily movement. Once circulated through the body, magnesium is filtered by our kidneys and excreted on a regular basis.
Magnesium must be continually supplied to the body as it is needed on an ongoing daily basis. When we don’t take in adequate magnesium daily, our bodies will either remove magnesium from our bones, where it is needed, or function in deficiency.
Though some amount of magnesium is stored within the bones and can be accessed for future use, magnesium turnover tends to contribute to unhealthy bone loss and the release of calcium from the bone into the blood stream.
Operating in magnesium deficiency disrupts the balance of not only magnesium but other minerals in the body, causing problems that reverberate throughout the body’s systems.
Low magnesium intake has been linked to risk factors for:
- High blood pressure
- Issues of heart health
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps or tremors, irregular heart beat, fatigue, confusion, and irritability.
Who Should Supplement Magnesium?
Magnesium has been linked to reduced incidence of common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in large peer-reviewed, long-term studies.4 5 6 7 8 9 Studies today focus on whether active magnesium supplementation may be one of the missing links to preventing these diseases, as well as several disorders affecting the brain, muscles and skin.
With an estimated three-quarters of Americans taking in insufficient magnesium,10 the number of people at risk for chronic deficiency is high. This is especially so among older people, as the ability to absorb adequate amounts magnesium slowly declines with age.
The U.S. Department of Health has placed magnesium on its short list of nutrients of concern11 , and many experts actually recommend increases to magnesium’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
The good news is that magnesium supplementation is a safe and effective way for most people to ensure they are getting enough magnesium to stay healthy, before deficiencies arise.
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Read magnesium testimonials and success stories. Find out how others have used magnesium for pain, sleep problems, skin conditions and more.
- Rubin H. Central role for magnesium in coordinate control of metabolism and growth in animal cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 1975 Sep;72(9):3551-5. [↵]
- Hartwig A. Role of magnesium in genomic stability. Mutation Research [serial online]. April 18, 2001;475(1-2):113-121. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 14, 2009. [↵] [↵]
- Seelig M, Rosanoff A. The Magnesium Factor. New York: Avery; 2003. [↵]
- Magnesium. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. 2009. Available at: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium.asp. Accessed January 27, 2010. [↵]
- Jing MA, Folsom AR, Melnick SL, et al. Associations of serum and dietary magnesium with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, insulin, and carotid arterial wall thickness: the ARIC study. J Clin Epidemiol. 1995;48:927-940. [↵]
- Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Sacks FM, Stampfer MJ. A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation. 1992;86:1475-84. [↵]
- Monarca S, Donato F, Zerbini I, Calderon RL, Craun GF. Review of epidemiological studies on drinking water hardness and cardiovascular diseases. European journal of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation. 2006; 13:495-506. [↵]
- Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:134-40. [↵]
- Murakami K, Okubo H, Sasaki S. Effect of dietary factors on incidence of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review of cohort studies. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology. (Tokyo) 2005; 51: 292-310. [↵]
- World Health Organization. Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water: Public health significance. Geneva: World Health Organization Press; 2009. [↵]
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs. In: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. 2005. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/pdf/DGA2005.pdf. Accessed January 28, 2010. [↵]