Magnesium – Mg

Natalie Connors February 2022.

What is Magnesium?

  • Magnesium is a nutrient, a mineral, needed for over 300 different enzymatic reactive functions in the body. These enzymatic reactions help your heart to beat, your neurotransmitters to fire, DNA to be synthesised and for each and every cell to produce energy! In fact Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body (2). Our bodies can not make Magnesium so it is an essential mineral, stored mostly in our bones.

Where does my body get Magnesium from?

  • We get Magnesium from out diet, or by taking a supplement. In the diet you can find Magnesium in nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Some good sources of Magnesium include: (1)

  • Peptita (Pumpkin) seeds
  • Almonds/ Cashews/ Peanuts
  • Spinach / Kale
  • Kidney, Edamame & Black Beans
  • White & Brown rice
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Raisins
  • Oats
  • Yoghurt
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Because Magnesium is a highly reactive mineral – meaning it likes to exist in combination with other atoms – you will always find it bound to something, you rarely find it on its own. In nature Magnesium mostly comes bound to citrate.
  • In supplements you may find it in the forms of Magnesium citrate, Magnesium glycinate, Magnesium oxide, Magnesium chloride, Magnesium lactate, Magnesium malate, Magnesium sulfate, Magnesium orotate, Magnesium chelate or in fact a combination of these. These different forms can make for a variety of different absorption rates in the digestive tract, and each have their own benefits (4). Some are found in tablets, capsules, powders and even ointments, creams and lotions.  
  • Epsom salts are a form of Hydrated Magnesium sulphide, when you take a bath in Epsom salts the Magnesium is absorbed through your skin.

Individual benefits of different forms of Mg include: (2, 3, 5, 6)

Magnesium chelate Magnesium that is bound to more than one other element. Highly absorbable form used to top up Magnesium levels.
Magnesium chloride Bound to chlorine this form is well absorbed and used to treat heartburn, constipation and low Mg levels. Sometimes used in a lotion to treat sore muscles.
Magnesium citrate Bound to citric acid found in citrus fruits. Easily absorbed used to increase Mg levels and treat constipation.
Magnesium glycinate Mg bound to the amino acid glycine. Glycine gives that added benefit of helping with sleep, and reducing inflammation. It has a calming effect and my be helpful to treat anxiety. Easily absorbed.
Magnesium lactate Formed when Mg binds to lactic acid. Produced by muscles and blood cells & used as a preservative & flavouring. Easily absorbed, sits well with those who do not tolerate other forms. Can be useful for treating stress & anxiety as well as low Mg levels. (8, 9)
Magnesium malate Includes malic acid & occurs in foods. Easily absorbed, with less of a laxative effect, good for use in chronic conditions.
Magnesium orotate Includes Mg & orotic acid – a natural substance use to construct DNA. Easily absorbed, not as strong in laxative effect. May promote heart health due to energy production pathways in heart & blood vessels.
Magnesium oxide A combination of Mg and oxygen. Poor absorption, so not commonly used to increase Mg levels. Often used in supplements to treat digestive upsets such as heartburn & constipation.
Magnesium sulfate Combination of Mg sulphur & oxygen – the form in Epsom salts. Dissolved in bathwater to relieve stress & sore muscles.
Magnesium taurate Bound to amino acid taurine. Well absorbed, may play a role in regulating blood sugar & blood pressure.

Functions that use Magnesium in the body.

  • As mentioned before our bodies rely upon Magnesium to perform many essential functions in the body. If we are low in Mg then the body will have to prioritise which functions are more important, and send any available Mg there. Potentially leaving other areas of the body lacking. Muscle cramps are a good example – better to have a cramp in your leg than in your heart right?

Some functions that rely upon adequate Magnesium levels include:(1, 2, 3)

  • Protein synthesis
  • Nerve & Muscle function
  • Muscle contraction
  • Normal heart rhythm
  • Nerve impulse conduction
  • Blood glucose control
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Bone development
  • Energy production
  • DNA & RNA synthesis
  • Potassium & Calcium regulation
  • Production of our naturally made antioxidant glutathione
  • Sleep & Mood regulation
  • Brain Function

And these are just a few of the many functions that rely upon Mg, pretty important stuff right? You can see why if you are low on this essential element, you begin to feel somewhat out of sorts.

How do you know if you need a Magnesium top up?

  • A Magnesium deficiency may be hard to determine, since most of our Magnesium store is kept in bones and cells – not free floating in the blood. So a blood Magnesium level, may not adequately reflect your true total levels. Many people do not get enough Magnesium from their diet, due to poor nutrition, and other factors affecting absorption.

Other factors affecting Magnesium levels include: (3)

  • Medications – some may hinder absorption
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Those with gastrointestinal conditions such as
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Coeliac’s disease
    • Pancreatitis
  • Alcohol dependancy,
  • Age can be a factor – in the elderly magnesium absorption in the gut decreases and renal excretion of magnesium may increase

One common sign of low magnesium is muscle cramps. If these are experienced often you may benefit from a magnesium top up.

Other signs of deficiency may include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting or an abnormal heart rhythm. Severe deficiency can result in an imbalance of other minerals leading to more serious conditions such as hypocalcemia (low calcium) or hypokalemia (low potassium) as it is a function of magnesium to balance these other essential minerals in the blood (1).

Conditions that may benefit from Magnesium supplementation.

  • Conditions such as hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, PMT, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and Migraine headaches may all benefit from a Mg top up (1). As always please consult your Health Care Professional before taking a supplement.

Potential side effects and Contraindications: (1)

Magnesium is a great stool softener, which is why some people may experience stomach upset and diarrhoea when taking a magnesium supplement. The most reported forms of Magnesium that are known to cause abdominal upset, cramps and diarrhoea are Mg carbonate, Mg chloride, Mg gluconate and Mg oxide. The laxative effect is due to the osmotic effect of this salt drawing more water into the bowl and increasing motility (1).

It is hard overdose on Magnesium as the kidneys excrete any excess in the urine. This does mean however, that those suffering with kidney disease should be careful when supplementing and should consult their Health Care Practitioner before taking it.

Other potential side effects of extremely large doses (excess of 5,000mg daily) include hypermagnesemia, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing, retention of urine, depression, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest. The risk of these side effects increases with impaired kidney function(1).

Magnesium Dosage & RDI’s: (1)

AGE

MALE

FEMALE

PREGNANCY

LACTATING

0-6mnths

30mg*

30mg*

7-12mnths

75mg*

75mg*

1-3yrs

80mg

80mg

4-8yrs

130mg

130mg

9-13yrs

240mg

240mg

14-18yrs

410mg

360mg

400mg

360mg

19-30yrs

400mg

310mg

350mg

310mg

31-50yrs

420mg

320mg

360mg

320mg

51+yrs

420mg

320mg

(*Adequate Intake AI)

  • A therapeutic dosage, for certain conditions, may differ to the daily RDI. This is when you need to consult a Nutritionist, Herbalist, Naturopath or GP to determine how much Magnesium you may need, in what form and for how long. And of course so you can be monitored for any ill effects.
  • If you have any further questions about Magnesium and how it could help you please reach out, we would love to help you.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH), office of dietary Supplements; Magnesium – fact sheet https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  2. Schwalfenberg & Genuis (2017), The importance of Magnesium in clinical healthcare https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5637834/
  3. Grober, Schmidt, Kisters, (2015), Magnesium in prevention and Therapyhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5637834/
  4. Walker et al, (2003), Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised double blind studyhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14596323/
  5. Schchardt & Hahn, (2017), Intestinal absorption and factors influencing Bio-avaibility of Magnesium – An Updatehttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29123461/
  6. Walker et al. (2003), Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised studyhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14596323/
  7. Cleavland Clinic (2022), Magnesium Rich Foodshttps://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food
  8. Robinson & Frank (2017), Magnesium lactate in the treatment of Gitelman syndrome: Patient reporthttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26940126/
  9. Boyle etal. (2017), The effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress – A Systematic Reviewhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28445426/