Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones.
A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, and cerebral infarction. Conversely, consuming too much magnesium typically causes diarrhea as the body attempts to excrete the excess.
High magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, seeds, beans, whole grains, fish, nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, avocados, bananas and more. The current daily value (DV) for magnesium is 400mg.
Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, or taking supplemental dietary fiber, is likely to hinder magnesium absorption.37
Phytates, found in vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts may slightly hinder magnesium absorption, however, the soluble fiber, and fermentable carbohydrates found in these foods likely counteracts this effect, making most plant foods a great source of magnesium.37
Foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, leafy greens, nuts, tea, coffee and cacao also reduce magnesium absorption. Cooking reduces oxalic acid, so cooking spinach and other greens is better than eating them raw (in terms of magnesium absorption).35
High Risk Groups for a Magnesium Deficiency
Long distance athletes - People who exercise over long distances lose electrolytes via sweat and need to replenish their sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels.
Dehydration - People who consume excess alcohol, or suffer diarrhea, or can be otherwise dehydrated need to replenish their sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels.
People with Gastrointestinal Disorders - Most magnesium is absorbed through the colon so people with gastrointestinal disorders
like Crohn's disease are at high risk for a magnesium deficiency.19,20
People with Poor Functioning Kidneys - The kidneys should be able to regulate magnesium in the blood,
excreting less when stores are low, however, excessive loss of magnesium through urine can occur to people on specific medications,
poorly managed diabetes, and alcoholics.21-29
The Elderly - As we age the amount of magnesium we absorb decreases as the amount we excrete increases.7
People Consuming high amounts of Fiber - Eating large amounts of fiber has been shown to interfere with the bodies ability
to use magnesium. However, more research needs to be done to confirm how much fiber affects magnesium.30,31
People on a low protein diet (*Controversial) - Eating less than 30 grams of protein a day may adversely affect magnesium utilization.
People taking Certain Medications23,25,33,34,36
Proton Pump Inhibitors: Prescription PPIs include Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Dexilant (dexlansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole sodium), AcipHex (rabeprazole sodium), Vimovo, Prilosec OTC (omeprazole), Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), and Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole)36
Diuretics: Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide
Antibiotics: Gentamicin, and Amphotericin
Anti-neoplastic (Cancer) medication: Cisplatin
Health Benefits of Magnesium
Regulation of Blood Pressure - Diets high in fruits and vegetables provide both magnesium and potassium which are consistently
associated with reduced blood pressure.3-5
Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes - Magnesium is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and the bodies use of insulin.6
Studies show that individuals with type II diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood.7 Correcting this lack
of magnesium may help increase sensitivity to insulin and prevent type II diabetes.8
Reduced Risk of Heart Attack and other Cardiovascular Diseases - Because magnesium is associated with regulation of blood pressure
and lower risk of diabetes, it follows that it also reduces risk of cardiovascular disease.9 Elevated levels of magnesium
in the blood has been associated with reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.10-12
Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis - Magnesium plays a role in calcium metabolism and hormones which regulate calcium and may help
to protect against osteoporosis.7,13 Several studies support that increased magnesium intake increases bone health.7,14
Reduced Frequency of Migraine Headaches (*Controversial) - Studies show that individuals who have frequent migraine headaches
have lower levels of magnesium than other individuals.15 There is conflicting evidence as to whether increased intake
of magnesium will reduce the frequency of migraines.15-18
Alleviation of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Studies suggest that consuming higher amounts of magnesium, perhaps in
helps to alleviate bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, breast tenderness, and other
symptoms associated with PMS.19
Appel LJ. Nonpharmacologic therapies that reduce blood pressure: A fresh perspective. Clin Cardiol 1999;22:1111-5.
Simopoulos AP. The nutritional aspects of hypertension. Compr Ther 1999;25:95-100.
Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP, Sacks FM, Bray GA, Vogt TM, Cutler JA, Windhauser MM, Lin PH, Karanja N. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med 1997;336:1117-24.
Saris NE, Mervaala E, Karppanen H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical, and analytical aspects. Clinica Chimica Acta 2000;294:1-26.
Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
Paolisso G, Sgambato S, Gambardella A, Pizza G, Tesauro P, Varricchio H, D'Onofrio F. Daily magnesium supplements improve glucose handling in elderly subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:1161-7.
Altura BM and Altura BT. Magnesium and cardiovascular biology: An important link between cardiovascular risk factors and atherogenesis. Cell Mol Biol Res 1995;41:347-59.
Ford ES. Serum magnesium and ischaemic heart disease: Findings from a national sample of US adults. Intl J of Epidem 1999;28:645-51.
Liao F, Folsom A, Brancati F. Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J 1998;136:480-90.
Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, Giovannucci EL, Kawachi I, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Intake of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber and risk of stroke among US men. Circulation 1998;98:1198-204.
Elisaf M, Milionis H, Siamopoulos K. Hypomagnesemic hypokalemia and hypocalcemia: Clinical and laboratory characteristics. Mineral Electrolyte Metab 1997;23:105-12.
Xing JH and Soffer EE. Adverse effects of laxatives. Dis Colon Rectum 2001;44:1201-9.
Mauskop A, Altura BM. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraines. Clin Neurosci. 1998;5(1):24-27.
Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Kohne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia. 1996;16(4):257-263.
Pfaffenrath V, Wessely P, Meyer C, et al. Magnesium in the prophylaxis of migraine--a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia. 1996;16(6):436-440.
Wang F, Van Den Eeden SK, Ackerson LM, Salk SE, Reince RH, Elin RJ. Oral magnesium oxide prophylaxis of frequent migrainous headache in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Headache. 2003;43(6):601-610.
Bendich A. The potential for dietary supplements to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19(1):3-12.
Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency: A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans. J Bone Miner Res 1998;13:749-58.
Rude KR. Magnesium metabolism and deficiency. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 1993;22:377-95.
Kelepouris E and Agus ZS. Hypomagnesemia: Renal magnesium handling. Semin Nephrol 1998;18:58-73.
Ramsay LE, Yeo WW, Jackson PR. Metabolic effects of diuretics. Cardiology 1994;84 Suppl 2:48-56.
Kobrin SM and Goldfarb S. Magnesium Deficiency. Semin Nephrol 1990;10:525-35.
Lajer H and Daugaard G. Cisplatin and hypomagnesemia. Ca Treat Rev 1999;25:47-58.
Tosiello L. Hypomagnesemia and diabetes mellitus. A review of clinical implications. Arch Intern Med 1996;156:1143-8.
Paolisso G, Scheen A, D'Onofrio F, Lefebvre P. Magnesium and glucose homeostasis. Diabetologia 1990;33:511-4.
Elisaf M, Bairaktari E, Kalaitzidis R, Siamopoulos K. Hypomagnesemia in alcoholic patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1998;22:244-6.
Abbott L, Nadler J, Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency in alcoholism: Possible contribution to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in alcoholics. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1994;18:1076-82.
Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Magnesium. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1997:190-249.
Schwartz R, Walker G, Linz MD, MacKellar I. Metabolic responses of adolescent boys to two levels of dietary magnesium and protein. I. Magnesium and nitrogen retention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1973;26(5):510-518.
Shils ME. Magnesium. In Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th Edition. (edited by Shils, ME, Olson, JA, Shike, M, and Ross, AC.) New York: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 1999, p. 169-92.
Spencer H, Norris C, Williams D. Inhibitory effects of zinc on magnesium balance and magnesium absorption in man. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994;13(5):479-484.