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What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an important mineral our bodies need for normal bone structure. We get Magnesium from our diets and when our Magnesium levels are too low, we can get a supplement. Studies have shown that with insufficient Magnesium levels we have a higher risk of diseases like Osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, clogged arteries, hereditary heart disease and a stroke. 

Magnesium is most commonly found in foods that have a high fiber content like legumes, grains, seeds, nuts (especially Almonds) and vegetables such as broccoli, squash and leafy greens. Other sources include dairy products, meats and my favourites, coffee and chocolate. 

Magnesium is good for many issues but the most common uses are for constipation and heartburn. It is also used for pregnancy related complications called pre-eclampsia and eclampsia as well as a certain type of irregular heartbeat.

How much Magnesium does a person need?

Stage of life

Recommended daily allowance

Birth to 6 months – Infant

30 mg

7 to 12 months – Infant

75 mg

1 to 3 years – Children

80 mg

4 to 8 years – Children

130 mg

9 to 13 years – Children

240 mg

14 – 18 years – Teen girls

360 mg

14 – 18 years – Teen boys

410 mg


310 – 320 mg


400 – 420 mg

Pregnant – Teens

400 mg

Pregnant – Adults

350 – 360 mg

Breastfeeding – Teens

360 mg

Breastfeeding – Women

310 – 320 mg

What is Magnesium deficiency?

When your body does not get all the Magnesium needed to stay healthy, you have a Magnesium deficiency. It is fairly uncommon to have health problems linked to Magnesium deficiency. However, if your body has a long term Magnesium deficiency due to other conditions like alcoholism or taking certain types of medicine, your body is at greater risk of developing health issues related to Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and migraine headaches.

What happens when you have a Magnesium deficiency?

The good news is that in the short run, it shouldn’t affect your body too much and you may not even experience any symptoms. When healthy people do not get enough Magnesium in their bodies, their kidneys help retain Magnesium by limiting the amounts lost in urine. Over a long period of time, low Magnesium intakes can lead to a Magnesium deficiency.

Some medical conditions and medication interfere with the body;s ability to absorb or increase the amount of Magnesium the body excretes which also leads to a Magnesium deficiency.

What are typical symptoms of a Magnesium deficiency?

Typical symptoms of a Magnesium deficiency include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue and weakness. When you experience an extreme Magnesium deficiency symptoms can include numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes and abnormal heartbeat or heart rhythm.

Who is most at risk of a Magnesium deficiency?

People who have gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, people with type 2 diabetes, people with long term alcoholism.

What are the benefits of using a Magnesium supplement?

In order to stay healthy and perform vital functions, your body needs a steady Magnesium supply. Magnesium supplements can be a helpful way to increase Magnesium intake for those who do not get enough Magnesium through their diet.

6 health benefits linked to taking a Magnesium supplement:

  1. Promoting healthy blood sugar regulation
  2. May reduce stress levels and improve anxiety and depression symptoms
  3. Helps maintain healthy bones
  4. May improve some headaches
  5. Supports healthy blood pressure levels
  6. May improve sleep

1. Does Magnesium help promote healthy blood sugar regulation?

Magnesium is needed for carbohydrate metabolism and insulin secretion, so it is especially important to maintain optimal Magnesium levels as it is essential for healthy blood sugar regulation.

Diabetics and pre-diabetics are more likely to develop a Magnesium deficiency due to increased urinary Magnesium excretion which is caused by elevated blood sugar. People with diabetes require a Magnesium supplement to maintain optimal Magnesium levels. 

Studies have shown that Magnesium supplements can reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes and those people at risk of diabetes. Further studies have shown that people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who have larger Magnesium levels have better blood sugar control than those with lover Magnesium levels.

You can find more information on this here 

2. Does magnesium reduce stress levels and improve anxiety and depression symptoms?

Magnesium plays an important role in the way our body responds to stress. If your body does not get enough Magnesium, it can impact the way you deal with stress. Research has shown that people with lower blood levels of Magnesium are more stressed than those who have higher levels of Magnesium present.

Magnesium supplements may help improve symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Studies have shown significant improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms where people took daily supplementation of 248 mg of Magnesium Chloride for 6 weeks. You can find more on these studies here and here

3. Does magnesium maintain healthy bones?

60% of the total Magnesium stored in your body is contained in your bones. If you do not take enough Magnesium. If you don’t get enough Magnesium in your body, it can affect the way your bone cells work. Magnesium helps bone-forming cells (called osteoblasts) to function properly, while also reducing the activity of bone-breaking cells (called osteoclasts). This balance is important for maintaining healthy bones.

Magnesium is also needed to enable the absorption and metabolism of Vitamin D, an important nutrient for skeletal health. People who have low blood levels of Magnesium are at risk of developing bone disorders like osteopenia and osteoporosis. Magnesium supplements have been shown to be effective for improving bone mineral density and decreasing the risk of fractures.

You can read more on this here

4. Does Magnesium improve some forms of headaches?

Magnesium is necessary for nerve function and helps to regulate inflammation and improve the blood flow to the brain. People with lower blood levels of Magnesium often experience headaches such as migraines. Magnesium deficiency is considered a risk factor for migraine headaches. Studies have shown that Magnesium supplements are helpful in reducing severity and frequency of migraines and tension-type headaches. It has also shown to be effective in

You can read more about this here: 

5. Does Magnesium help create healthy blood pressure levels?

Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important part in different physiological processes in the body and that includes blood pressure regulation. Magnesium promotes the release of nitric oxide which is a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels. When relaxation of blood vessels occurs it improves blood flow and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Taking in enough Magnesium through our diets or using Magnesium supplements may help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. Where people already have elevated blood pressure, Magnesium supplements could also be beneficial in lowering both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure. 

The optimal dosage of Magnesium to lower blood pressure may vary, depending on the individual and the circumstances and we therefore recommend consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, including Magnesium so that they can determine the appropriate dosage your specific health condition needs to ensure that it is safe and works effectively. 

You can read about it here

6. Does Magnesium improve sleep?

Magnesium may have a positive impact on sleep. It regulates sleep by binding to receptors in the nervous system and activates a neurotransmitter called GABA. Magnesium could assist people in falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.

It has been found that people with higher Magnesium intake, which includes dietary Magnesium and Magnesium supplements, are more likely to sleep for the recommended seven to nine hours per night according to the sleep foundation. Maintaining healthy levels of Magnesium could improve sleep quality by supporting the natural sleep-wake cycle of the body.

You can read more about this here and here

Different types of Magnesium supplements and their benefits

There are different types of Magnesium that people can get from dietary supplements. Each one of these supplements has its pros and cons. Some types of Magnesium are easier to absorb than others. Magnesium is one of the most common minerals in the body and plays a role in over 600 metabolic reactions which includes blood pressure regulation, protein formation and energy production.

For people who have a Magnesium deficiency, choosing the right Magnesium supplement can help boost the levels of this nutrient that is needed to assist in various medical conditions.

There are many types of Magnesium present in dietary supplements and food products and these typically include the following:

  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium lactate
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium taurate
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Magnesium oxide

Each of these have different properties and can vary in terms of medical uses, how easy it is for the body to absorb them and potential side effects. Before taking a Magnesium supplement it is advisable to look for advice from a doctor or dietitian as high doses of Magnesium can be toxic and can also interact with medications such as antibiotics. It is also unsuitable for people with certain underlying conditions such as kidney disease.

You can read more on this here

Magnesium glycinate: a compound of Magnesium and glycine, an amino acid.

Research suggests that Magnesium glycine is tolerated well by people and it causes minimal side effects which means it may be a good option for people requiring high doses of this nutrient and experiencing side effects when they take other types of Magnesium.

You can read more here

Magnesium lactate: a compound of Magnesium and lactic acid. Evidence suggests that Magnesium lactate absorbs in the gut easily.

You can read more here

Magnesium malate: a compound of magnesium and malic acid

Evidence suggests that it is highly bio-available and that people tolerate it well and that out of several types of Magnesium. Animal studies have shown that Magnesium malate was the fastest to absorb after a single dose. This could also have the same effect on humans but studies need to be conducted to confirm this. Other studies have reported that a supplement containing a combination of Magnesium malate and several vitamins cause very little digestive side effects. You can read more here and here 

Often used as an ingredient in supplements and appears to be easier for the body to absorb than other forms. Some studies have shown  Magnesium Citrate was better absorbed than Magnesium oxide and Magnesium Chelate. You can read more on these studies here.

Magnesium citrate is also used to treat constipation and as such, some people may experience unwanted digestive side effects like diarrhea.

Magnesium Chloride: Used as a topical

This is a type of salt found in topical Magnesium products such as magnesium oils and some bath salts. This is used as an alternative way of getting more Magnesium. There is still some questioning about how much of this magnesium the body is able to absorb through the skin. Studies have shown that there is evidence that the body can absorb small amounts of Magnesium through the skin but larger scale studies are needed to determine the effectiveness.

You can read about this here.

Magnesium chloride can also be taken internally as the intestines absorb it well but it may cause digestive side effects.

Magnesium sulfate: This is the form of Magnesium in Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are commonly used while taking a bath, as a foot soak or to soothe aching muscles. There is however, very little quality evidence to indicate that the body can absorb much Magnesium sulfate from baths.

You can read about it here.

Magnesium for specific medical conditions:

There are several different types of Magnesium that can aid in treating constipation, such as Magnesium citrate. Other types of Magnesium may also be useful as a treatment.

Magnesium oxide: May be used to treat constipation and also as an antacid for heartburn and indigestion. 

Magnesium oxide is also found in some dietary supplements. According to studies, the body does not absorb this type of Magnesium well. You can read about this here.

Magnesium Taurate: A compound of Magnesium in *taurine

There is limited evidence suggesting that Magnesium taurate has the potential to lower blood pressure and protect the cardiovascular system.

In an animal study, research suggested that Magnesium taurate reduced high blood pressure and heart damage in rats that have taken a toxic substance. The research concluded that this shows Magnesium taurate has potential as a cardio-protective nutritional supplement.

You can read about this here

More research needs to take place on this subject and it is advised against using Magnesium supplements as a treatment for cardiovascular conditions.

Which Magnesium product is best for you?

The following factors are important to consider when you choose a Magnesium product:

  1. The amount of Magnesium a person already consumes in their diet?
  2. Which product is better suited, a supplement or topical?
  3. How much extra Magnesium an individual needs?
  4. What is the best delivery method, oral or topical?

Considering these factors will help you choose a product that is safe for use and effective. It is advisable to see a health professional for tests to determine Magnesium levels as well as recommend the correct product and dosages.

You can read more about this here.

Magnesium can be found in food. However the body only absorbs about 30% – 40% of the dietary Magnesium consumed. It could be challenging for some people to get enough of this nutrient out of their diets.

Dietary sources of Magnesium include the following: 

  • Roasted pumpkin seed: 37% of the daily value per ounce (oz)
  • Chia seeds: 26% of the daily value per ounce (oz)
  • Almonds: 19% of the daily value per ounce (oz)
  • Boiled spinach: 19% of the daily value per half a cup
  • Cashews, peanuts, soy milk and black beans are also good sources. Many other foods also contain smaller amounts of Magnesium.


Magnesium is important for good health. Some people may find it necessary to use a Magnesium supplement as they do not get enough of this mineral for healthy bodily functions.

There are several types of Magnesium that are suitable as dietary supplements such as Magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and Magnesium lactate. Other types of Magnesium are useful as topicals or as a soak.

Before deciding which Magnesium supplement to take, it is advisable to see a medical professional for guidance on using a supplement or topical as they are not suitable for everyone.