Magnesium: A Potential Nutrient For Unlocking Your Optimal Health

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Nutrition World > Supplements > Magnesium: A Potential Nutrient For Unlocking Your Optimal Health

During the last 50 years, several studies show that magnesium is a crucial nutrient. It supports many functions within the body. It is one of the most abundant minerals. And is essential for optimal health and well being. Magnesium plays a role in regulating more than three hundred different biochemical reactions in the body. Particularly reactions that involve generating energy or ATP. An important trace element, or mineral, it functions like that of a spark plug in your vehicle. It sets off a chain of reactions. Deficiencies in magnesium can alter how your body works in many different ways. In this article, we will talk about its functions, the more suggested forms to take, and symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Allowing your body to be low on magnesium can have devastating effects on the quality of your life.

Magnesium plays a role in regulating more than three hundred different biochemical reactions in the body. Share on X

Why Magnesium

Drugs Depleting Magnesium

Foods Containing Magnesium

Magnesium RDA

Reasons Magnesium is Low

Magnesium Deficiency

Testing Magnesium

Magnesium Types

Magnesium Benefits

Why This Mineral Is Vital 

It helps to:
– maintain healthy nerve and muscle function
– regulate the heartbeat
– protect bone density
– and support the immune system
It also helps to manage blood sugar levels. This is important for preventing serious conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes. Both of which are precursors to heart disease and many ills of aging. Low levels of magnesium have also been associated with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis, migraine headaches, and ADHD (1)(2)
Read more on migraine pain relief and prevention tips here!
Magnesium deficiencies have been implicated in calcium overload due to the relationship between the two. Deficiency usually results in too much calcium. This results in calcium deposits in the kidneys (resulting in stones), the liver, the brain and the arteries. We want calcium to be in the bones. But nowhere else do we want calcification to occur. When the body becomes deficient it leads to a whole host of problems. Including premature aging, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and more (3). Without proper magnesium levels, we turn into calcium statues as we age. This reason alone is enough to not overlook this magnificent nutrient. Also do not expect your physician or practitioner to address your magnesium levels. Medical schools do not teach this science in their training.

Drugs That Deplete Magnesium Levels 

More than 131 million people — 66 percent of all adults in the United States — use prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are costly, of course, but what about the cost on our body (4)? If people do not know what drugs are doing in their body and they live sedentary lifestyles and eat a standard American diet, their risk for nutritional deficiencies increases. Meaning, their risk for disease and death increase! Unfortunately, many prescription drugs deplete magnesium levels by disrupting the transport, or metabolism, of important vitamins and minerals. Below is a list of drugs that deplete magnesium in our bodies:
  • Antibiotics – Amoxicillin, Azithromycin (Z-Pak), Cefaclor, Levaquin, Cipro, Tetracycline, and more
  • Antacids – Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Alka-Seltzer, baking soda, Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia
  • Acid Blockers (PPIs) – Tagamet, Nexium, Pepcid & Pepcid Complete, Prilosec OTC, Zantac, Protonix
  • Statins for cholesterol, hypertensive for blood pressure, corticosteroids, diuretics, stimulants, neuroleptics and antidepressants are among the many other drugs that can contribute to magnesium deficiencies as well as other nutrient depletions in the body (5)(6).
  • Misc. – alcohol, excess/prolonged calcium supplementation, estrogen dominance, high cortisol levels, high-sugar diet.  
Always talk with your doctor before taking prescription medications to understand their side effects.
To learn more about drug-nutrient interactions visit the Linus Pauling Institute HERE!

Foods That Contain Magnesium

Over the last 150 years, our food has gone under a considerable amount of transformation. Soils are far less nutrient dense making our foods less nutritious. Also, people in all developing countries are consuming more sugar per year than ever before. And we get less exercise and sunshine which increases magnesium deficiency. Below are some of the richest sources of foods that contain magnesium:
  • Dark leafy greens – swiss chard, spinach, kale, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens
  • Avocados – a rich source of magnesium. At half an avocado you receive approximately 20mg of Mg (7)
  • Nuts/Seeds – Almonds, pistachio, Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts boast a load of nutrition (8)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Wild caught fish – mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring
  • Himalayan pink sea salts
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let thy food be thy medicine.” We have somehow steered far away from this great wisdom. Instead of using food as medicine we use synthetic chemicals that cause more harm than good. As one study noted, the dietary intake of magnesium declined in the United States from 475 – 500mg per day in 1900 to 215 – 283mg per day in 1990, owing to an increase in the consumption of processed foods
The RDA for magnesium ranges accordingly (9)(10):
Children up to 13 years of age: 80-240 mg/day
Females over 14 years of age: 310-360 mg/day
Pregnant and nursing women: 310-400 mg/day
Males over 14 years of age: 400-420 mg/day
Most natural health experts agree that these levels are much lower than they should be. And yet close to 80% of our population is not even getting this level (11, 12). 

Why are so many lacking in magnesium? There are 5 possible main reasons for this:

  1. Poor nutrition
  2. Medications that deplete magnesium
  3. Soil depletion from conventional farming practices
  4. Leaky gut (malabsorption), Celiac, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis
  5. Not supplementing with quality magnesium

Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Let’s take a look at some of the most identifying signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Signs of deficiency include but are not limited to:

  • Poor cognitive processing
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Constipation and related IBS disorders
  • Fatigue (physical, mental/emotional) (13)
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms and cramping
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Mood and behavioral disorder
  • Anxiety


As you can see, magnesium is essential for the health of your entire body. 


Some other signs of low magnesium are:

  • Muscle twitches and cramps (many people tend to think this is due to potassium but it’s probably magnesium)
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Osteoporosis (poor calcium to magnesium balance)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Asthma

Testing & Supplementation

How do we correct this deficiency? First, understand the forms of magnesium so you are not throwing away money. There are a couple of ways to test so we can adjust dosing. But, aiming for 400-600mg of a superior form of magnesium is ideal. If you experience loose stools, dial back a bit on the dose. 
Less than 1% of our body’s total magnesium can be measured in our blood (serum). The rest is occupied in the cells and tissues. So it is almost impossible to make an accurate assessment of the level of magnesium in various body tissue cells using standard serum (blood) testing. Magnesium in the blood does not correlate with the amount of magnesium in other parts of our body. Unfortunately, most hospitals and allopathic doctors use this antiquated method of magnesium testing without realizing the need for better testing.   

Magnesium RBC Testing

All body cells, including red and white blood cells, contain magnesium. Approximately 40% of the body’s total. Red blood cells (RBCs) are the preferred testing method because they’re 500 times more abundant than white blood cells giving a more accurate assessment of magnesium. So, if you are going to assess magnesium, RBC is the way to go. We are aiming for 4.2-6.8mg/dL as an optimal level (11) but encourage shooting for getting closer to 6.8mg/dl.

Magnesium & Its Many Forms

If you are looking to optimize your health by taking magnesium, it is important to understand which form is best. 

  • Magnesium Citrate – Inexpensive and works great for constipation and can be used more long term to help with bowel regularity.
  • Magnesium Oxide – absorbed very poorly and often offered by doctors and pharmacies. Inexpensive, but is helpful to loosen stools for immediate relief of constipation. I do believe there are more superior forms than magnesium oxide for constipation relief in long term use like the citrate mentioned above.
  • Magnesium Taurate – an excellent form for hypertension and cardiovascular problems and camping the nervous system(14,15)
  • Magnesium Malate – contains malic acid, a weak organic acid found in fruits and veggies, especially apples. This form makes it readily soluble in the body. Malic acid is a key component of several energy-making chemical reactions in the body. Researchers have used the malate form successfully to treat chronic fatigue, pain, insomnia and fibromyalgia.
  • Di-magnesium Malate – increases the amount of magnesium available to the body and has the same properties as magnesium malate.
  • Magnesium Bisglycinate – arguably the safest and most effective at taking long term and correcting magnesium deficiency. This form is chelated for greater absorption and is attached to the amino acid glycine.
  • Magnesium L-threonate – The only form to cross over the BBB (blood-brain-barrier) and aid in brain health. This form has been shown to help prevent brain degeneration from aging and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. It has even shown to reverse cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s diseased rat models (16)!


While there are several forms, three great forms we recommend are malate, bisglycinate and L-threonate. Aiming for 400-600mg daily and achieving an optimum level of 4.2-6.8mg/dL on an RBC test is the goal!

You can shop all of our magnesium products here.

Why We Believe Magnesium Is Essential for Everyone

Take a few minutes to watch this video! While magnesium has its many benefits, we do believe that this superstar mineral should be in your top 5, as it is in our Core 4 of supplements that we recommend for everyone over 25! To learn more about utilizing the Core 4 Program click here. Remember it may help optimize the following:

  • Balancing blood sugar
  • Stabilizes cortisol
  • Improves GABA levels
  • Reduces brain inflammation
  • Alleviates symptoms of depression
  • Cellular energy production
  • Optimal circulation and blood pressure
  • Relaxed nervous system
  • Relaxed muscles and pain relief
  • Helps to balance calcium and bring density to bones
  • Improves sleep and so much more!


Optimize your health by adding this vital supplement to your daily regimen of nutrition along with eating healthy foods!

For more information on magnesium supplements, read our complete guide to magnesium supplements here.


  1. Int. Journal Of Endocrinology Apr 2018 
  2. Nutrients Sept 2015 
  3. Open Heart BMJ Jan 2018 
  4. Georgetown University HPI 
  5. Jigsaw Health 
  6. Dr. David Perlmutter 
  7. Critical Reviews of Nutr & Sci May 2013 
  8. Nutrients July 2010
  9. WebMD 
  10. Natl Inst. Health 
  11. Nutrients Dec 2018 
  12. Nutrients Sept 2018 
  13. The Lancet Mar 1991
  14. Journal of Trad. & Compl. Med
  15. Journal of Diet Suppl. 
  16. Molecular Brain Sept 2014 



Disclaimer. The information on this website and the topics discussed have not been evaluated by the FDA. Or, any one of the medical profession. And it is not aimed to replace any advice you may receive from your medical practitioner. Nutrition World assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any purchaser or reader of any of these materials. Nutrition World is not a doctor, nor does it claim to be. Please consult your physician before beginning any health regimen. If you are being treated for any medical illness, check with your medical professional before starting any protocol