What Is Magnesium? Top 10 Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is a powerful natural mineral with numerous benefits including boosting heart health and even managing depression.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our body. Did you know that the health benefits of magnesium include improving sleep quality, reducing stress, lowering anxiety, and improving blood circulation?

In a nutshell, it is an integral part of our health. Let’s dive deep into the benefits of magnesium in the body, what happens in case of deficiency and how to get magnesium naturally.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a major mineral and an essential ion to the human body playing an important role in sustaining and supporting health and life. 

An adult body contains approximately 25g of magnesium and over 50-60% of it is found in the bones, and the rest in muscles and soft tissues [1]. 

What is the role of Magnesium in our body?

Magnesium is a multitasking mineral that contributes to the health of every organ and tissue in the body. Magnesium, in conjunction with partner macro mineral calcium, protects our nerves and aids in the appropriate contraction and relaxation of our muscles, particularly those of our heart and circulatory system. 

This mineral also aids in protein synthesis as well as the creation and transportation of energy throughout the body.

Magnesium is widely used in the stomach for constipation or as an antacid for heartburn because it helps neutralize stomach acid and move faeces through the colon.

Below, we’ll explore how magnesium works in the body, different food sources, the recommended amount, and the consequences of eating too little or too much.

Health benefits of Magnesium

The health benefits of magnesium are profound. A few health benefits of magnesium in the body are:

1)Magnesium for boosting exercise performance

A number of studies have evaluated the association between Magnesium supplementation and increased exercise performance.

Magnesium does this by enhancing glucose availability in the brain, muscle, and blood and thus reducing/delaying lactate accumulation in the muscles.

Magnesium supplementation improves athletic performance and also reduces insulin and stress hormone levels. Moreover, it improves walking speed and chair stand time in elderly women [2,3].

2) Magnesium for Depression

Low magnesium levels in the body have been linked with depression, headaches or muscle pain/tightness, higher levels of stress insomnia /sleep disturbances, and fatigue.

According to studies, people under the age of 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% greater risk of depression [4].

Magnesium plays two important roles in the brain -It blocks the activity of more stimulating neurotransmitters and binds to calming receptors, resulting in a peaceful, resting state. And it helps to regulate the release of stress hormones.

In a randomized controlled trial in depressed older adults, it was found that 450 mg of magnesium daily improved mood as effectively as an antidepressant drug [5].

3)Helps with Type 2 diabetes

Magnesium plays an important role in insulin metabolism and controlling glucose.

Magnesium deficiency can occur with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but it appears to be more prevalent with type 2 because low levels of magnesium are associated with insulin resistance. 

People with insulin sensitivity or resistance also lose excess magnesium in their urine, contributing to lower levels of this nutrient.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) when people with poorly controlled diabetes were given 1,000 milligrams (mg) of magnesium oxide per day in clinical trials, they showed improvements in glycaemic control after 30 days. And similarly, people who received 300 mg of magnesium chloride per day had improvements in fasting glucose after 16 weeks [6].

4) Can lower Blood Pressure

Studies show that magnesium supplements help reduce blood pressure by increasing the production of a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels [7].

It was found that people who took 450 mg per day experienced a significant decrease in diastolic and systolic blood pressure [8]. However, these benefits may only occur in people with high blood pressure.

5) Has Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

According to studies, C-reactive protein is a molecule produced by the liver and an increase in its concentration indicates an inflammatory response of the body.

Studies show that magnesium supplementation has an association with a significant decrease in plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein, an observation which supports that magnesium indeed has an anti-inflammatory effect and offers therapeutic potential for fighting inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases [9, 10].

6) Can help prevent Migraine

Some scientists believe that a drop in magnesium levels seems to cause blood vessels in the brain to narrow, or constrict, which may play a role in migraine, magnesium also blocks signals in the brain that leads to changes in vision and other senses.

Benefits of Magnesium citrate: A review from 2017 states that taking 600 mg of magnesium citrate appears to be a safe and effective prevention strategy for headache. [11]

7) Improves PMS symptoms

Magnesium improves Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms by relaxing the smooth muscle of the uterus and by reducing the prostaglandins that cause period pain.

Small-scale studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements along with vitamin B-6 can improve PMS symptoms and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggest that taking magnesium supplements could help to reduce bloating, mood symptoms, and breast tenderness in PMS. [12]

8) Magnesium benefits Bone Health

Magnesium is just as vital as calcium for strong bones.

Higher magnesium consumption leads to increased bone mineral density, which helps to reduce the incidence of bone fractures. It’s also linked to better bone crystal formation and a lower incidence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Getting more magnesium from foods or dietary supplements might help older women improve their bone mineral density [15].

9) Magnesium for boosting Cardiovascular Health

Magnesium plays an important role in heart health. It is necessary for maintaining a steady heartbeat and normal blood pressure to maintain heart health.

According to a study, increasing magnesium intake may lower a person’s risk of stroke. They report that for each 100 mg per day increase in magnesium, the risk of stroke is reduced by 2%. [13]

10) Prevents Asthma

Magnesium expands the airways and relaxes the bronchial muscles, allowing more air to flow in and out of the lungs. This can relieve symptoms of asthma, such as shortness of breath. Magnesium sulfate may also help stop an acute asthma attack.

Food Sources of Magnesium

Foods containing dietary fiber are said to provide magnesium. It is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. 

Bottled or tap water can also be sources of magnesium, but the amount of magnesium in water varies by source and brand (ranging from 1 mg/L to more than 120 mg/L).

Approximately 30% to 40% of the dietary magnesium consumed is typically absorbed by the body.

It is a constituent of chlorophyll, and hence dark green vegetables are the major dietary source, other foods that are good sources of Magnesium are [14].

Food Sources Amount of Magnesium/100g
Almonds  285.6 mg
Pumpkin seed – kernels  262 mg
Roasted cashews  292 mg
Spinach 117 mg
Peanut butter 154 mg
Black beans 93.6 mg
Whole wheat bread  82 mg
Brown Rice, cooked  43 mg
Banana  27 mg
Avocado, cubed  29 mg
Oatmeal, instant,  26 mg
Chicken 23 mg
Milk  11 mg
Fortified breakfast cereals  19 mg
Kiwi 17 mg

Recommended Intake

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for magnesium is 310-320 mg per day for adult women and 400-420 mg per day for adult men. [14].


Magnesium deficiency is known as Hypomagnesemia. Deficiency is rare but can develop in a number of conditions like alcohol abuse, protein malnutrition, renal disease, prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea, and malabsorption syndrome. Moderate depletion of magnesium can occur in the elderly [14].

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

Side effects  of excess Magnesium

Toxicity of magnesium through dietary sources is unlikely because the body will eliminate any excess magnesium from food through urine. However, it has been reported in industrial workers who have inhaled or ingested magnesium dust or in people who took excess supplements.

Very large doses can cause:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Urine retention 
  • Kidney problems
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of central nervous system (CNS) control
  • Cardiac arrest

Excess magnesium can also inhibit bone calcification [14].

Drug interaction of Magnesium

Several types of medications can interact with magnesium supplements or affect magnesium status. 

Magnesium supplements may interact with certain medicines, Check with your health care provider if you are taking any medicine before taking magnesium.

Antibiotics- Since mg can form insoluble complexes with quinolone antibiotics and tetracyclines, These should be taken at least 2 hours before or 4–6 hours after a magnesium-containing supplement.

Proton pump inhibitors-Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs, (e.g. esomeprazole magnesium and lansoprazole)  when taken for prolonged periods can cause hypomagnesemia.

Diuretics-Chronic treatment with loop diuretics, such as furosemide can increase the loss of magnesium in urine and lead to magnesium depletion.

Bisphosphonates– (used to treat osteoporosis) There must be at least a 2-hour gap between magnesium-rich supplements or medications and oral bisphosphonates  [14].

Magnesium Supplements

There are a variety of magnesium supplements available in the market. They vary in terms of rate of absorption as some types dissolve more easily in liquid allowing for quicker absorption than others.

The various types of magnesium include:

  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • Magnesium Oxide
  • Magnesium Sulfate
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Magnesium Taurate
  • Magnesium Citrate
  • Magnesium Gluconate
  • Magnesium Aspartate
  • Magnesium Lactate
  • Magnesium Threonate

A few benefits of magnesium supplements are boosting exercise performance, anti-inflammatory benefits, lowering blood pressure, etc.

Though these are generally well-tolerated, they may not be safe for some people so it is best to check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

Wrapping up

Magnesium is a macro mineral that is essential for the body, helping to keep bones healthy, blood pressure in check, and depression at bay.

It is preferable to get magnesium from food, but if you are unable to do so, your doctor may recommend supplements to help you meet your daily needs.


Q: Is it okay to take magnesium and zinc supplements at the same time?

A: No, calcium, zinc, and magnesium tablets compete with each other to get absorbed.

Q: What form of magnesium is best absorbed?

A: Magnesium citrate! The benefit of magnesium citrate is among the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, meaning that it’s more easily absorbed in your digestive tract than other forms

Q: When is the best time to take magnesium?

A: Magnesium supplements can be taken at any time of the day or as prescribed by your doctor.

Q: Does magnesium make you gain weight?

A: Taking magnesium alone will not be effective for weight loss or weight gain.


  1. Eroen H F de Baaij, Joost G J Hoenderop, René J M Bindels, Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease, National Library of Medicine, 2015
  2. Luciana Setaro, Paulo Roberto Santos-Silva, Eduardo Yoshio Nakano, Cristiane Hermes Sales, Newton Nunes, Júlia Maria Greve, Célia Colli, Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation,  National Library of Medicine, 2014
  3. Yijia Zhang, Pengcheng Xun, Ru Wang, Lijuan Mao, Ka He, Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?, National Library of Medicine, 2017
  4. Emily K Tarleton, Benjamin Littenberg, Magnesium intake and depression in adults, National Library of Medicine, 2015
  5. Lazaro Barragán-Rodríguez, Martha Rodríguez-Morán, Fernando Guerrero-Romero. Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial, National Library of Medicine, 2008
  6. Mario Barbagallo and Ligia J Dominguez, Magnesium and type 2 diabetes, World Journal of Diabetes, August 2015
  7. Claudio Borghir  and Arrigo F G Cicero, Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure‐lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta‐analyses, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, January 2017
  8. F Guerrero-Romero, M Rodríguez-Morán, The effect of lowering blood pressure by magnesium supplementation in diabetic hypertensive adults with low serum magnesium levels: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, National Library of Medicine, 2009
  9. Forrest H Nielsen, Magnesium, inflammation, and obesity in chronic disease, National Library of Medicine, 2010
  10. Forrest H Nielsen, Effects of magnesium depletion on inflammation in chronic disease, National Library of Medicine,  2014
  11. Lisa A. Yablon and Alexander Mauskop, Magnesium in headache, NCBI, 2011
  12. Elham Ebrahimi, Shiva Khayati Motlagh, Sima Nemati, and Zohreh Tavakoli, Effects of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 on the Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms, National Library of Medicine, 2012
  13. Binghao Zhao, Lei Hu, Yifei Dong, Jingsong Xu, Yiping Wei, Dongliang Yu, Jianjun Xu, and Wenxiong Zhang, The Effect of Magnesium Intake on Stroke Incidence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis With Trial Sequential Analysis August 2019
  14. National Library of Health, Magnesium Fact sheet, 2021
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