Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s function. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong, and the heart rhythm steady. Magnesium is an important mineral, playing a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body.
An adult body contains around 25 gram (g) of magnesium, 50–60% of which the skeletal system stores. The rest is present in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.
Magnesium is one of seven major macrominerals. These macrominerals are minerals that people need to consume in relatively large quantities — at least 100 milligrams (mg) per day. Microminerals, such as iron and zinc, are just as essential, although people need them in smaller quantities.
Prevent or treat chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and migraine.
- Bone health
Adequate magnesium intake was related to higher bone density, better bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women in the 2013 study. Magnesium can improve bone health, both directly and indirectly, by helping to regulate calcium and vitamin D levels, which are two other nutrients vital to bone health.
Research has linked high magnesium diets with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This may be because magnesium plays an important role in glucose control and insulin metabolism.A magnesium deficiency may worsen insulin resistance, which is a condition that often develops before type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, insulin resistance may cause low magnesium levels.
- Cardiovascular health
The body needs magnesium to maintain the health of muscles, including the heart. Research has found that magnesium plays an important role in heart health. People who receive magnesium soon after a heart attack have a lower risk of mortality. Doctors sometimes use magnesium during treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF) to reduce the risk of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm.
Some research also suggests that magnesium plays a role in hypertension. However, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), based on current research, taking magnesium supplements lowers blood pressure “to only a small extent.”
- Migraine headaches
Magnesium therapy may help prevent or relieve headaches. This is because a magnesium deficiency can affect neurotransmitters and restrict blood vessel constriction, which are factors doctors link to migraine.
- Premenstrual syndrome
Magnesium may also play a role in premenstrual syndrome (PMS).Small-scale studies, including a 2012 article, suggest that taking magnesium supplements along with vitamin B-6 can improve PMS symptoms. However, a more recent 2019 review reports that the research is mixed, and further studies are needed.
Magnesium levels may play a role in mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. According to a systematic review from 2017, low magnesium levels may have links with higher levels of anxiety. This is partly due to activity in the hypothalami-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a set of three glands that control a person’s reaction to stress.
- 65 mg/day for children ages 1-3
- 110 mg/day for children ages 4-8
- 350 mg/day for adults and children ages 9 and up.
Can you get magnesium naturally from foods?
Natural food sources of magnesium include:
- Green, leafy vegetables, like spinach
- Beans, peas, and soybeans
- Whole-grain cereals
Eating whole foods is always best. Magnesium can be lost during refinement and processing.
What are the risks of taking magnesium?
- Side effects. Magnesium supplements can cause nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. Magnesium supplements often cause softening of stool.
- Interactions. Magnesium supplements may not be safe for people who take diuretics, heart medicines, or antibiotics. Check with your health care provider if you are taking any medicine before taking magnesium.
- Risks. People with diabetes, intestinal disease, heart disease or kidney disease should not take magnesium before speaking with their health care provider.
- Overdose. Signs of a magnesium overdose can include nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and fatigue. At very high doses, magnesium can be fatal.