The Importance Of Magnesium For Optimal Health

by Katie Pinnick

Supplementing with magnesium offers a range of health benefits due to its crucial role in many bodily processes. Here are the top eight benefits.


  1. Improved Bone Health: Magnesium is essential for bone formation and influences the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. It helps in the assimilation of calcium into bone and affects the secretion of parathyroid hormone, which regulates bone remodelling (Castiglioni, Cazzaniga, Albisetti, & Maier, 2013).


  1. Enhanced Heart Health: Adequate magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, heart disease, and heart arrhythmias, supporting the overall health of the cardiovascular system (Rosanoff, Weaver, & Rude, 2012).


  1. Diabetes Management: Magnesium plays a significant role in carbohydrate metabolism and insulin action. Studies have shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (Larsson & Wolk, 2007).


  1. Relief from Migraines: Magnesium deficiency has been linked to migraines, and supplementation can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks (Peikert, Wilimzig, & Köhne-Volland, 1996).


  1. Reduced Symptoms of Depression: Low magnesium levels are associated with an increased risk of depression. Research suggests that magnesium supplementation can have antidepressant effects (Tarleton et al., 2017).


  1. Improved Sleep Quality: Magnesium plays a role in supporting sleep by regulating neurotransmitters involved in the sleep cycle. Supplementation can enhance the quality of sleep (Abbasi et al., 2012).


  1. Muscle Function and Relaxation: Magnesium is important for muscle contractions and relaxation. It can help alleviate symptoms such as muscle cramps and spasms (Nielsen, Johnson, & Zeng, 2010).


  1. Alleviation of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Magnesium has been shown to improve symptoms related to PMS, including mood changes and water retention (Facchinetti, Borella, Sances, Fioroni, Nappi, & Genazzani, 1991).


Let’s dive deeper into this essential mineral.


Magnesium plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Sub-optimal magnesium status is likely to be an important factor that increases the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, insulin resistance and heart disease. Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal metabolic function.

Magnesium helps maintain the function of our muscle and nervous system, keeps our heart rhythms steady, supports our immune systems and keeps our bones strong. It even has a role in regulating our blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Magnesium helps convert 5-HT into N-acetyl-5-hydroxytryptamine, a precursor to melatonin, so it assists healthy sleep patterns. Magnesium is important for the production of serotonin and hence low levels may lead to depression.

The word ‘magnesium’ comes from the name of the ancient Greek city Magnesia, where large deposits of magnesium were found.

Approximately 20 minerals are essential for human beings’ existence. One of the most important is magnesium and most people on the planet have suboptimal levels of this mineral.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 essential enzymatic reactions in the body (it is a co-factor) and is necessary for every major biochemical process.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant intracellular divalent cation in the body. An adult body contain about 25g of magnesium (chemical symbol Mg). Approximately 50% of magnesium can be found in the bone and approximately 50% is inside body tissue cells and organs, while less than 1% is in the blood (Volpe S.L., (2015.))

Magnesium is an essential mineral and is required for ATP (energy) production in the mitochondria. It is directly involved in your body’s ability to create, store, transport and utilize energy. So, if you want to experience optimal levels of energy, you need optimal levels of magnesium.

It is also necessary for DNA, RNA protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism. It is required for your immune function, bloody clotting, muscle contraction and relaxation, cardiac function and nerve conduction.

Magnesium in involved in both calcium absorption and regulation and magnesium is many times more important than calcium for bone and tooth health and bone formation. Just one of magnesium's hundreds of functions is to activate vitamin D so that calcium can be properly stored in teeth and bones. Without adequate magnesium, calcium in our blood gets deposited in our soft tissues and blood vessels causing arterial plugs; stones in our kidneys, gall bladder, liver, pancreas and other organs and ducts; and joint calcification leading to local inflammation and then to arthritic conditions.

Calcium makes muscle fibres contract, whereas magnesium makes the fibres relax. The walls of the blood vessels are made up of many layers of muscle. Increasing our intake of magnesium can play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Magnesium helps convert 5-HT into N-acetyl-5-hydroxytryptamine, a precursor to melatonin, so it assists healthy sleep patterns.

Magnesium is important for the production of serotonin and hence low levels may lead to depression. (Eby G.A. (2006))

After exercise of strength training magnesium may assist with muscle soreness and recovery. Magnesium helps to encourage the natural relaxation of the muscles in the blood vessel walls. A number of studies have evaluated the association between magnesium status/supplementation and exercise performance and found that the need for magnesium increased as individuals' physical activity level went up (Sergi G. (2014)) Another study (Zhang, Y et al (2017)) suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the following amount of magnesium per day: 400 to 420 mg for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women with an additional 30 to 40mg for pregnancy.

Mineral deficiencies are much more common than are toxic overloads.

Research has shown that the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining (Guerrera M. P. et al, (2009.)) Food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

Assuming the plants were grown in soil that contained sufficient magnesium the following list contains good food sources: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, cacoa, almonds, cashews, brewer’s yeast, navy and white beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, barley, edamame, green leafy vegetables, celery, avocado, mushrooms, pineapple, blackberries, grapes, parsnips, potatoes with skin on, molasses, coconut water, cod, eggs, figs, kelp, mineral water. Wheat is a source of magnesium but the process of milling of wheat results in losses of up to 90% of the magnesium content.

And the most absorbable, the most bioavailable form of magnesium is a whole foods source. Always aim for a rich whole food source before buying a tub of inorganic magnesium with a heap of other synthetic ingredients. 

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Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M.M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161-1169.


 Castiglioni, S., Cazzaniga, A., Albisetti, W., & Maier, J.A.M. (2013). Magnesium and osteoporosis: Current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients, 5(8), 3022-3033.


Eby G.A, Eby K.L. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Med Hypotheses.2006;67(2):362-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2006.01.047. Epub 2006 Mar 20. PMID: 16542786.


 Facchinetti, F., Borella, P., Sances, G., Fioroni, L., Nappi, R.E., & Genazzani, A.R. (1991). Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 78(2), 177-181.


Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226. doi: 10.3390/nu7095388. PMID: 26404370; PMCID: PMC4586582.⠀⠀⠀

Guerrera MP, Volpe SL, Mao JJ. Therapeutic uses of magnesium. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-62. PMID: 19621856

Larsson, S.C., & Wolk, A. (2007). Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Internal Medicine, 262(2), 208-214.


Nielsen, F.H., Johnson, L.K., & Zeng, H. (2010). Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnesium Research, 23(4), 158-168.


Peikert, A., Wilimzig, C., & Köhne-Volland, R. (1996). Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: Results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia, 16(4), 257-263.


Rosanoff, A., Weaver, C.M., & Rude, R.K. (2012). Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: Are the health consequences underestimated? Nutrition Reviews, 70(3), 153-164.


Sergi G. (2014) Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;100(3):974-81. 


Tarleton, E.K., Littenberg, B., MacLean, C.D., Kennedy, A.G., & Daley, C. (2017). Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS ONE, 12(6), e0180067.


Volpe, Stella Lucia PhD, RD, LDN, FACSM Magnesium and the Athlete, Current Sports Medicine Reports:July/August 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 4 - p 279-283 


Zhang, Y., Xun, P., Wang, R., Mao, L., & He, K. (2017). Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?. Nutrients, 9(9), 946.




Factors Increasing Demand:

Achlorhydria, athletes, arthritis, chronic alcoholism, chronic fatigue, excessive intake of coffee, diabetic acidosis, diarrhoea, eclampsia, epileptics, excessive sweating, heart failure, high fat and sugar intake, hyperparathyroidism, kidney stones, lactation, liver cirrhosis, microvascular surgery, muscular dysfunction, radiation, renal dysfunction, soft tissue calcification, stress.

Functions Facilitated:

Acetylation of CoA, aggregation of ribosomes, binding of RNA to ribosomes, co-factor in the synthesis of cAMP, co-factor and stimulator of many enzymes in energy-producing pathways, co-factor in nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and miss-match repair, (DNA repairase), homeostasis of calcium, hydrolysis of phosphate and pyrophosphate, improve immune competence by removal of transformed cells associated with lympho-leukaemia and bone tumours, inhibition of platelet aggregation, initiation of fatty acid oxidation, lecithin production, maintenance of heart muscle, muscle contraction, neuromuscular transmission and bone structure, regulation of body temperature, vasodilation of blood vessels, DNA replication, Agitation, anaemia (haemolytic), anxiety, arteriosclerosis, ataxia, behavioural disturbances, cold hands and feet, cold/flu induced asthma, calcification of arteries, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, confusion, convulsive seizures, coronavirus artery spasm, decreased membrane Integrity, depression, disturbance of heart rhythm, enhances free radical damage, hypothermia, increased oxidative stress, insomnia, irritability, kidney stones, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, myocardial infarction, palpitations, persistent dry cough, poor appetite, poor growth (magnesium is required for protein and DNA synthesis, premenstrual tension, pronounced startle response, osteoporosis, radiation therapy, reduced pain threshold, stomach acidity.

Therapeutic Uses:

Alcoholism, adrenal hyperactivity, allergic rhinitis, angina, anxiety, apathy, arteriosclerosis asthma, asthenia, athletes, atheroma, aversions, bursitis, cadmium induced hypertension, calcium spurs, cardiac conditions, cerebral ischaemia, cerebral vasospasm, chronic fatigue syndrome, confusion, constipation, convulsions, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes mellitus, discontent, eclampsia, excessive perspiration, fluid retention, gall stones, headaches, heart disease, hypertension (more effective in the young), hyperparathyroidism, hyperactivity, hyper-excitability, hyper-sensitivity to calcium, hypothermia, insulin resistance, insomnia, insecurity, irregular heartbeat, irritability, kidney stones, lower back pain, metabolic syndrome, muscle cramps on exertion, muscle tremor, noise sensitivity, non alcoholic steatohepatitis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, palpitations, parathyroid disfunction, postoperative sore throat – use magnesium lozenges, postoperative atrial fibrillation associated with coronary artery bypass grafting, premenstrual tension, pronounced startle response, protects from noise induced hearing loss, radiation therapy, renal dysfunction, restless leg syndrome, short term memory loss, stomach acidity or aches, stress, stroke prevention, suicidal ideation, sulkiness, supraventricular tachycardia, tetany, tonic or facial seizures, traumatic brain injury, urinary frequency, vertigo.

Source : Osiecki, H. (2014) The Nutrient Bible, 9th Ed, Bio Concepts Publishing, Qld Australia.