Magnesium: Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects 2022

Magnesium is one of the seven essential minerals we cannot live without. Magnesium is also a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation (NIH).

Contents:

1. Magnesium Deficiency
2. Types of Magnesium
3. Magnesium Foods
4. Magnesium Dosage
5. Magnesium Benefits
6. Magnesium Side Effects
7. How To Test Magnesium Levels
8. Magnesium and Other Supplements
9. Online Shopping Guide

1. Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and research shows even subclinical deficiency can jeopardize your heart health. 

More than 300 different enzymes rely on magnesium for proper function, and magnesium is required for a whole host of biochemical processes. This includes but is not limited to the creation of ATP (adenosine triphospate), the energy currency of your body, relaxation of blood vessels and healthy muscle and nerve function, including the action of your heart muscle.

As noted in a 2018 scientific review published in Open Heart journal, a "vast majority of people in modern societies are at risk for magnesium deficiency" due to "chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop magnesium contents, and the availability of refined and processed foods."

According to this review, most fail to meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium; 48% of Americans do not get sufficient magnesium from their diet. Among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, the rate of magnesium deficiency is 84%.

One of the reasons why magnesium insufficiency or deficiency is so common, both among adults (Ref) and teens (Ref), is in part due to the fact that most people don't eat enough plant foods. Magnesium is actually part of the chlorophyll molecule responsible for the plant's green color.

If you rarely eat fresh leafy greens, you're probably not getting much magnesium from your diet. Furthermore, while eating organic whole foods will help optimize your magnesium intake, it's still not a surefire way to ward off magnesium deficiency, as most soils have become severely depleted of nutrients, including magnesium.

If you frequently eat processed foods, your risk of deficiency is magnified. That said, even if you eat plenty of greens you might still need to take a supplement, as most foods are grown in mineral-depleted soils and are thus much lower in magnesium than they have been historically.

Magnesium absorption is also dependent on having sufficient amounts of selenium, parathyroid hormone and vitamins B6 and D, and is hindered by excess ethanol, salt, coffee and phosphoric acid in soda.

Sweating, stress, lack of sleep, excessive menstruation, certain drugs (especially diuretics and proton-pump inhibitors) also deplete your body of magnesium.36 For these reasons, most people probably need to take supplemental magnesium.

a. Causes of Magnesium Deficiency




b. Diseases Associated With Magnesium Deficiency

If you get insufficient amounts of magnesium from your diet, your body will pull it from your bones, muscles and internal organs. This can lead to osteoporosis, kidney problems and liver damage.  It can also lead to the deterioration of your cellular metabolic function, which in turn can snowball into more serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, sudden cardiac death and even death from all causes.

c. Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Along with the measurement, you should track signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, such as..
  • Muscle spasms, especially “charley horses” or spasms in your calf muscle that happen when you stretch your leg, and/or eye twitches
  • Numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and/or coronary spasms
  • Increased number of headaches and/or migraines
  • Low energy, fatigue and/or loss of appetite
  • The Trousseau sign — To check for this sign, a blood pressure cuff is inflated around your arm. The pressure should be greater than your systolic blood pressure and maintained for three minutes. By occluding the brachial artery in your arm, spasms in your hand and forearm muscles are induced. If you are magnesium deficient, the lack of blood flow will cause your wrist and metacarpophalangeal joint to flex and your fingers to adduct.

2. Types of Magnesium


a. Magnesium Glycinate

- Helps with sleep, anxiety and inflammation
- Does not induce a laxative effect

b. Magnesium Threonate

- Best type for cognitive function and brain fog
- Potentially energizing and best to take in the morning

Magnesium Threonate is the most efficient type at penetrating cell membranes, including your mitochondria and blood-brain barrier. 

This type of magnesium may help with memory loss. As noted by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition, writing specifically about magnesium threonate:

"It has now been discovered that magnesium is a critical player in the activation of nerve channels that are involved in synaptic plasticity. That means that magnesium is critical for the physiological events that are fundamental to the processes of learning and memory.

As it turns out, one form of magnesium, magnesium threonate, has the unique ability to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are involved in this process."

c. Magnesium Chloride

- Commonly used topically, such as in lotions, baths and foot soaks.

While traditional Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate, there are also newer forms of magnesium flakes that are made of magnesium chloride. Both types of salts provide benefits for the body, however magnesium chloride may be able to provide longer lasting benefits. This is because magnesium chloride is both easier to absorb and slower to be excreted from the body.

In an outpatient clinic treating 126 adults with mild to moderate symptoms, researchers found supplementation with magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in clinically significant improvements in depression and anxiety without side effects.

d. Magnesium Sulfate

- Commonly used topically, such as in lotions, baths and foot soaks. 

An effective way to boost your magnesium level is to take Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths. Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium that can absorb into the body through the skin while you soak.

e. Magnesium Malate

- Good for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Potentially energizing and best to take in the morning
- Good bioavailability, making this one of the better types in terms of absorption

f. Magnesium Citrate

- One of the most studied forms of magnesium
- Good bioavailability, making this one of the better types in terms of absorption
- Has a laxative effect
- Mixes well with liquids

g. Magnesium Taurate

- Suitable for heart related issues and migraines
- Shown to reduce heart attacks and promote stable blood sugar
- Most supplements mix magnesium taurate with other forms of magnesium

h. Magnesium Oxide

- Inexpensive
- Not as bioavailable as other forms
- Commonly used for constipation or heartburn

i. Magnesium Salicylate

This type of magnesium is used as an anti-inflammatory to help control pain.

It is one of the drugs of choice if there is renal insufficiency, as it minimally interferes with anticyclooxygenase and other prostaglandins. Additionally, it will not impair platelet inhibition in those patients who are on an every-other-day aspirin regimen to decrease their risk for stroke or heart disease.

Unlike aspirin, it does not increase the formation of products of lipoxygenase-mediated metabolism of arachidonic acid. For this reason, it may be less likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions. It has been safely used in patients with reversible obstructive airway disease and a history of aspirin sensitivity.

It is also much gentler on your stomach than the other NSAIDs and are the drug of choice if you have problems with peptic ulcer disease. However, you need to take 1.5-2 grams twice a day, and tinnitus, or ringing in your ear, is a frequent side effect.

You need to be aware of this complication and know that if tinnitus does develop, you need to stop the drugs for a day and restart with a dose that is half a pill per day lower. You can repeat this until you find a dose that relieves your pain and doesn't cause any ringing in your ears.


3. Magnesium Foods


Magnesium absorption is dependent on having sufficient amounts of selenium, parathyroid hormone and vitamins B6 and D.

a. High Magnesium Vegetables

When it comes to leafy greens, those highest in magnesium include..
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Beet greens
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • Romaine lettuce

i. Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder 
One ounce (28 grams) of raw cacao nibs contain about 64 mg of magnesium, plus many other valuable antioxidants, iron and prebiotic fiber that help feed healthy bacteria in your gut.

ii. Avocados 
One medium avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, plus healthy fats and fiber, and other vitamins. They're also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

iii. Seeds and nuts 
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 48%, 32% and 28% of the RDA of magnesium respectively. Cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources. One ounce (28 grams) of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, which equates to about 20% of the RDA.

iv. Fatty fish 
Interestingly, fatty fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are also high in magnesium. A half fillet (178 grams) of salmon can provide about 53 mg of magnesium, equal to about 13 percent of the RDA.

v. Squash 
One cup of winter squash provides close to 16.80 grams of magnesium — about 4 percent of your RDA.

vi. Herbs and spices 
Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages, and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.

vii. Fruits and berries 
Ranking high for magnesium are: papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. For example, one medium-sized papaya can provide nearly 58 grams of magnesium.

c. What Inhibits Magnesium Absorption?

Magnesium absorption is hindered by excess ethanol, salt, coffee and phosphoric acid in soda. Sweating, stress, lack of sleep, excessive menstruation, certain drugs (especially diuretics and proton-pump inhibitors) also deplete your body of magnesium. For these reasons, many experts recommend taking supplemental magnesium. 

4. Magnesium Dosage

The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 310 to 420 mg per day depending on your age and sex, but many experts believe you may need 600 to 900 mg per day, which is more in line with the magnesium uptake during the Paleolithic period. 

As noted in Open Heart:
"Investigations of the macro- and micro-nutrient supply in Paleolithic nutrition of the former hunter/gatherer societies showed a magnesium uptake with the usual diet of about 600 mg magnesium/day …

This means our metabolism is best adapted to a high magnesium intake … In developed countries, the average intake of magnesium is slightly over 4 mg/kg/day … [T]he average intake of magnesium in the USA is around 228 mg/day in women and 266mg/day in men …"

The key to effectively using higher doses, however, is to make sure you avoid loose bowels as that will disrupt your gut microbiome, which would be highly counterproductive.

a. Magnesium Dose for Kids

> Toddlers (1 to 3 years old) - 80mg
> Kids (4 to 8 years old) - 130 mg
> Kids (9 to 12 years old) - 240mg

5. Magnesium Benefits



Magnesium is important for brain health, detoxification, cellular health and function, energy productionregulation of insulin sensitivitynormal cell divisionthe optimization of your mitochondria and much more.

Having adequate levels of magnesium is crucial for:
  • The healthy function of most of your cells, especially your heart, kidneys and muscles.
  • Cognitive function and brain plasticity.
  • Activating and regulating vitamin D in your body.
  • Mental and physical relaxation.
  • Cardiovascular health and healthy blood flow.
  • Normal blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity.
  • Protecting your body against damage from EMFs.
  • The production of neurotransmitters for mood and sleep.
  • Detoxification support and the synthesis of glutathione.
a. Magnesium for Diabetes Type 2

Low magnesium levels are linked to a higher risk of insulin resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance impairs your ability to regulate blood sugar. In one study, prediabetics who had the highest magnesium intake lowered their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by 71% as compared to those with the lowest intake.

It also appears as if there is a bidirectional relationship since high levels of insulin in the blood also lead to further loss of magnesiumOne study published in December 2019 again linked low levels of magnesium with an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Magnesium supplementation not only may lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, but also may improve your condition if you already have full-blown diabetes. Researchers demonstrated this in a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients. The researchers engaged 42 people with Type 2 diabetes and allocated the intervention group to receive 250 mg per day of magnesium for three months, while the control group did not receive any supplements.

The data showed a reduction in insulin resistance and an improvement in glycemic control in those taking the magnesium. Additionally, a meta-analysis published in 2007 also found that magnesium intake was inversely associated with Type 2 diabetes incidence. This analysis included seven cohort studies looking at magnesium from either food or supplement sources.

b. Magnesium for Brain Health

Life Extension Neuro-Mag Magnesium L-Threonate > Best Magnesium for Brain Fog

The brain contains the highest concentration of mitochondria in the male body. Mitochondria are heavily reliant on magnesium for energy production so a deficiency can hamper your brain performance significantly. Supplemental magnesium has been shown to improve learning and memory.

Magnesium also facilitates processing in your neural network and is used to keep the blood-brain barrier healthy.

Magnesium Glycinate is known to help with sleep, anxiety and inflammation. 

Meanwhile, Magnesium Threonate is said to be the best type for cognitive function and brain fog. It is the most efficient type at penetrating cell membranes, including your mitochondria and blood-brain barrier. 

i. Magnesium for Depression

Many of the benefits related to maintaining optimal levels of magnesium include lowering mental and physical stress, which catalyzes mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin that help prevent anxiety and depression. One study found a significant association between low levels of magnesium intake and depression, especially in young adults.

Another study demonstrated that supplementation could improve mild to moderate depression in adults, demonstrating beneficial effects within the first two weeks of treatment. In fact, the benefits were comparable to prescription SSRI medications but without the side effects associated with these drugs.

ii. Magnesium for Anxiety


In an outpatient clinic treating 126 adults with mild to moderate symptoms, researchers found supplementation with magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in clinically significant improvements in depression and anxiety without side effects.

A review of 18 studies suggests that taking magnesium may reduce feelings of anxiety among people prone to this condition. That said, researchers pointed out that none of the studies used a validated measure of subjective anxiety symptoms (Trusted Source).

iii. Magnesium for Memory Loss

Over time, memory impairment occurs when the connections between brain cells are diminished. Many factors can trigger this phenomenon, but magnesium is an important one. As noted by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition, writing specifically about magnesium threonate:

"It has now been discovered that magnesium is a critical player in the activation of nerve channels that are involved in synaptic plasticity. That means that magnesium is critical for the physiological events that are fundamental to the processes of learning and memory.

As it turns out, one form of magnesium, magnesium threonate, has the unique ability to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are involved in this process."

iv. Magnesium for Migraines

It has been found that sufferers of chronic migraines often have lower levels of magnesium in their bodies. 

Supplemental magnesium taken on a regular basis has been shown to decrease both the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. Additionally, magnesium has been shown to have the same effect on non-migraine headaches as well.

Much of this has to do with magnesium’s ability to help regulate calcium balance within neuronal cells.  Too much calcium can lead to neurotoxic effects where the brain cells are overstimulated and this is a major factor in headaches and migraine formation.

Magnesium also plays the additional key role of regulating neurotransmitter production, which can also influence migraines. Magnesium activates nerve channels involved in synaptic plasticityOne animal study found magnesium threonate could enhance learning abilities, working memory and short- and long-term memory. Researchers have also found that maintaining optimal levels of magnesium can help prevent migraines by relaxing blood vessels in the brain and acting as a calcium channel blocker.

In fact, they noted that empiric treatment with a magnesium supplement is justified for all migraine sufferers. Magnesium Taurate is a type of magnesium used for migraines.

c. Magnesium for Blood Circulation and Blood Sugar


Magnesium is a mineral that’s critical for many bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation.

Studies show that magnesium supplements may help reduce blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide — a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels.

A review of 11 randomized studies found that magnesium, taken at 365–450 mg per day over an average of 3.6 months, significantly reduced blood pressure in people with chronic medical conditions.

Another review of 10 studies in over 200,000 people suggested that greater dietary intake of magnesium may protect against high blood pressure in the first place. Every 100-mg daily increase in dietary magnesium was linked to a 5% reduction in high blood pressure risk.

According to this article, when there's insufficient ATP to allow the blood vessels to relax, you end up with hypertension. This is in part why supplements like CoQ10 (ubiquinol) and magnesium help lower blood pressure, as both of these are intimately involved in the energy production process.

 One study published in December 2019 again linked low levels of magnesium with an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

ii. Magnesium for Blood Sugar

Magnesium may also regulate your blood sugar levels.

An analysis of 32 studies in 1,700 people revealed that taking zinc significantly reduced levels of insulin, fasting and post-meal blood sugar, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) — a marker of long-term blood sugar control (Trusted Source).

Moreover, research suggests that magnesium may aid blood sugar control in people with diabetes by enhancing your body’s ability to use insulin — a hormone that moves sugar from your blood into your cells (Trusted Source).

An analysis of 18 studies in people with diabetes indicated that magnesium supplements were more effective at reducing fasting blood sugar levels than a placebo. Plus, blood sugar levels dropped significantly in those at risk of this condition (Trusted Source).

d. Magnesium for Constipation

Magnesium plays a major role in regulating muscle contractions in the intestines and this is why a magnesium deficiency often results in constipation.  In this way, magnesium can also be a very helpful in relieving discomfort and cramping due to IBS or other similar conditions.

Proper magnesium intake actually softens stools by drawing water into the bowels, supporting healthy elimination. If stools become too hard, they move slower through the colon and become a problem. For reference, an ideal stool should resemble type 3 or 4 on the Bristol stool chart below.


Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass.

This supplement is relatively gentle. It shouldn’t cause urgency or emergency bathroom trips, unless you take too much of it. You can find it at many drug stores, and you don’t need a prescription to purchase it.

Your doctor may also prescribe magnesium citrate to help you prepare for certain medical procedures, such as colonoscopies.

e. Magnesium for COVID-19

A review by Dinicolantonio et al (Mo Med Feb 2021) suggested vitamin D and magnesium deficiency as a potential cause of cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients and recommended that vitamin D and magnesium supplementation to be considered.

A study published in November 2020 from Singapore (CW Tan, Nutrition 2020), found that those who were started on a daily oral dose of vitamin D3 (1,000 IU), magnesium (150 mg) and vitamin B12 (500 mcg) within the first day of hospitalisation and continued up to 14 days were significantly less likely to require oxygen therapy and further intensive care.

f. Magnesium for Exercise

Magnesium plays a central role in muscle function, energy production, oxygen absorption, and electrolyte balance, all of which are important factors when it comes to exercise.

When magnesium is depleted, muscle contractions can become weak and uncoordinated, leading to involuntary spasms and painful cramps.

This is actually one of the most common early signs of magnesium deficiency. Spasms typically occur in the legs, feet, and sometimes even in places like the eyelids. If you are a woman, you may also experience worsened PMS-related cramping when magnesium stores are low.

i. Studies

In this study, it enhanced the availability of energy for cells and helped clear out lactate from the muscles. Lactate can build up with exercise and contribute to muscle soreness.

4-week study in 25 volleyball players showed that taking 350 mg of magnesium daily reduced lactate production and improved the performance of jumps and arm swings.

What’s more, malic acid has also been studied for its ability to promote muscle recovery and reduce fatigue in endurance athletes.

g. Magnesium for Heartburn

Magnesium-based antacids are often effective in treating infrequent heartburn, mild GERD or acute flares of chronic GERD

Magnesium compounds are incorporated into many over-the-counter heartburn treatments, since they work by neutralizing stomach acids. They are generally built into an antacid in the form of magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate (Mylanta), magnesium trisilicate (Gaviscon), and magnesium hydroxide (Maalox, Milk of Magnesia, Rolaids).

h. Magnesium for Heart Health

Magnesium is necessary for the healthy functioning of most cells, especially in your heart and muscles.  Just as with other muscles in the body, the heart relies heavily on magnesium for proper contractility. This is thought to be due to its role in regulating calcium and potassium concentrations in the muscle tissue.

If you notice that your heart beats irregularly, magnesium may be something to address. This includes rapid heartbeats, slow heartbeats, and sudden changes in heart rhythm for no apparent reason.

Magnesium Taurate is a type of magnesium used for heart related issues.

i. Studies

Research published in 2017 shows even subclinical magnesium deficiency can compromise cardiovascular health.

According to one scientific review, which included studies dating as far back as 1937, low magnesium appears to be the greatest predictor of heart disease. Andrea Rosanoff, Ph.D., conducted a comprehensive review of studies for over 10 years that built on the past work of the late Dr. Mildred Seelig, who studied the relationship between cardiovascular disease and magnesium for over 40 years. According to Rosanoff:

"By 1957 low magnesium was shown to be, strongly, convincingly, a cause of atherogenesis and the calcification of soft tissues. But this research was widely and immediately ignored as cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet became the culprits to fight.

Ever since this early 'wrong turn’ more and more peer-reviewed research has shown that low magnesium is associated with all known cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Additionally, after decades of rising dietary calcium intake not balanced with rising dietary magnesium intake, and a population wherein a majority of US adults are not getting their daily magnesium requirement, dietary calcium-to-magnesium ratios are on the rise, and studies are showing that calcium supplements not balanced with magnesium increase the risk of heart disease."

Related: Magnesium for High Blood Pressure: FDA Gives 'Qualified' Nod

i. Magnesium for Energy Levels

Magnesium for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which numerous studies have found to be deficient in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Magnesium malate is also known for helping with chronic fatigue syndrome.

2010 review of treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome stated that magnesium malate is among the supplements with the most potential for future research for managing the symptoms of these conditions, which are characterized by low energy, among other symptoms.

j. Magnesium for Pain

i. Magnesium for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes muscle pain and tenderness throughout the body. Some research suggests magnesium malate could help reduce its symptoms.

Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which numerous studies have found to be deficient in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

One study in 80 women found that blood levels of magnesium tended to be lower in those with fibromyalgia. When the women took 300 mg of magnesium citrate per day for 8 weeks, their symptoms and the number of tender points they experienced decreased significantly, compared with a control group.

Also, a 2-month study in 24 people with fibromyalgia found that taking 3–6 tablets, each containing 50 mg of magnesium and 200 mg of malic acid, twice daily reduced pain and tenderness.

However, other research has produced conflicting results. In fact, one recent review of 11 studies concluded that the use of magnesium and malic acid had little to no effect on symptoms of fibromyalgia.

ii. Magnesium for Inflammation

Magnesium may boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. While inflammation is a normal immune response, chronic levels of it can damage your health and promote illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to reduce markers of chronic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Conversely, magnesium deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation (Trusted SourceTrusted Source). In a study published in The Journal of Immunology, the laboratories of Helene Bernstein, MD, PhD, and Andrea Romani, MD, PhD, reported that magnesium decreases inflammation by reducing the activity of cells' primary protein, Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NF-kB), and the subsequent production of cytokines. This new insight offers a promising new immunotherapeutic strategy by which a simple nutrient, known to be safe based on its extensive usage in obstetric settings, can decrease inflammation in diseases other than pregnancy, including in other sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer. The cost of all of these diseases in the United States exceeds $200 billion annually.

k. Magnesium for Sleep



Magnesium may improve your sleep quality. Studies show that magnesium helps stimulate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you feel calm and relaxed (Trusted Source).

Magnesium is also involved in the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is what is known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which promotes relaxation. If you don’t have enough magnesium to produce adequate amounts of GABA, your sleep will likely suffer. 

i. Magnesium benefits for Women

Magnesium sulfate is given to many pregnant women to treat preterm labor and hypertension in pregnancy and was also shown to prevent cerebral palsy; however little is known about how it works. 

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine recently discovered the mechanism by which magnesium reduces the production of cytokines. Cytokines are molecules responsible for regulating inflammation; they play a key role conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, asthma, and alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. Although the study related to pregnancy, inflammation is the culprit of many conditions and learning more about individual's magnesium levels may help a much broader patient population.

6. Magnesium Side Effects

Magnesium can interact with certain prescription medications and medical problems, so people should be careful to look for any contraindications prior to use. 


Magnesium can adversely affect certain antibiotics, antivirals, diuretics and bisphosphonates. 

i. Levodopa/Carbidopa (Sinemet)

Levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet) is used for Parkinson disease. Taking magnesium oxide along with levodopa/carbidopa might decrease the effectiveness of levodopa/carbidopa. 

ii. Antibiotics (Aminoglycoside antibiotics)

Some antibiotics can affect the muscles. These antibiotics are called aminoglycosides. Magnesium can also affect the muscles. Taking these antibiotics and getting a magnesium shot might cause muscle problems.

Some aminoglycoside antibiotics include amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), streptomycin, tobramycin (Nebcin), and others.

iii. Antibiotics (Quinolone / Tetracycline antibiotics)

Magnesium might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking magnesium along with some antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. To avoid this interaction, take these antibiotics at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after, magnesium supplements.

Some quinolone antibiotics that might interact with magnesium include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), and others.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

iv. Bisphosphonates

Magnesium can decrease how much bisphosphate the body absorbs. Taking magnesium along with bisphosphates can decrease the effectiveness of bisphosphate. To avoid this interaction, take bisphosphonate at least two hours before magnesium or later in the day.

Some bisphosphonates include alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), risedronate (Actonel), tiludronate (Skelid), and others.

v. Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers)

Some medications for high blood pressure work by blocking calcium from entering cells. These medications are called calcium channel blockers. Magnesium might also block calcium from entering cells. Taking magnesium with these medications might cause blood pressure to go too low.

Some of these medications include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.

vi. Muscle relaxants

Magnesium seems to help relax muscles. Taking magnesium along with muscle relaxants can increase the risk of side effects of muscle relaxants.

Some muscle relaxants include carisoprodol (Soma), pipecuronium (Arduan), orphenadrine (Banflex, Disipal), cyclobenzaprine, gallamine (Flaxedil), atracurium (Tracrium), pancuronium (Pavulon), succinylcholine (Anectine), and others.

vii. Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics)

Some "water pills" can increase magnesium levels in the body. Taking some "water pills" along with magnesium might cause too much magnesium to be in the body.

Some "water pills" that increase magnesium in the body include amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).

viii. Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Magnesium might slow blood clotting. Taking magnesium along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, indomethacin (Indocin), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

ix. Digoxin (Lanoxin)

Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Magnesium might decrease how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs. By decreasing how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs, magnesium might decrease the effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

x. Medications for diabetes (Sulfonylureas)

Magnesium is available in supplements in several salt forms. Some salt forms of magnesium might increase how much sulfonylurea the body absorbs. By increasing how much sulfonylurea the body absorbs, these forms of magnesium might increase the risk of low blood sugar in some patients.

Some sulfonylurea agents include carbutamide, acetohexamide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, gliclazide, glibornuride, glyclopyramide, and glimepiride.

xi. Antacids

Antacids might reduce the laxative effects of magnesium. People taking magnesium as a laxative might require a higher dose.

Some antacids include calcium carbonate (Tums, others), dihydroxyaluminum sodium carbonate (Rolaids, others), magaldrate (Riopan), magnesium sulfate (Bilagog), aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel), and others.

xii. Gabapentin (Neurontin)

Magnesium might decrease how much gabapentin (Neurontin) the body absorbs. By decreasing how much gabapentin (Neurontin) the body absorbs, magnesium might decrease the effects of gabapentin (Neurontin). Take gabapentin (Neurontin) at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after taking magnesium supplements.

xiii. Ketamine (Ketalar)

Ketamine is used for severe pain and depression. Taking large doses of magnesium along with ketamine might increase the effects and side effects of ketamine.

xiv. Sevelamer (Renagel, Renvela)

Sevelamer (Renagel, Renvela) can increase magnesium levels in the body. Taking sevelamer with a magnesium supplement might cause magnesium levels to get too high.

b. Who Cannot Take Magnesium

Ingested magnesium is cleared by the kidneys, so people with kidney failure on dialysis may not be able to effectively clear the extra magnesium from their bloodstream. 

c. Magnesium Toxicity Symptoms

Signs of a magnesium toxicity may include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and slow reflexes.

7. How To Test Magnesium Levels

a. RBC Magnesium Test

The RBC Magnesium Test measures the amount of magnesium in your red blood cells. 

b. Mercola Market


8. Magnesium and Other Supplements

a. Magnesium and Calcium


Calcium and magnesium work hand-in-hand to support bone health and other bodily functions. Magnesium is needed for calcium absorption. Because magnesium suppresses parathyroid hormone and stimulates calcitonin, it helps deposit calcium into our bones, preventing osteoporosis. 

Without magnesium, calcium would become toxic, depositing itself in soft tissue, which can lead to arthritis. Therefore, maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio is important.

Based on your personal health needs an ideal ratio of calcium-to-magnesium may vary from 1-to-1 to an optimal 1-to-2. While the ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is thought to be 1-to-1, most people get far more calcium than magnesium from their diet; hence, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

If you exercise regularly, consider taking your calcium and magnesium in a ratio of one part calcium to two parts magnesium with your pre-workout meal.

However, it is not advised to take calcium as magnesium at the same time as they compete with each other to be absorbed into the body.

b. Magnesium and Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps escort magnesium into the cells where it's needed most, ensuring that the magnesium is being absorbed as efficiently as possible.

c. Magnesium and Vitamin D

Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, is a component necessary for the activation of vitamin D, and without sufficient amounts of it, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D you’re taking. (SourceSourceSourceSource)

This may actually help explain why many need rather high doses of vitamin D to optimize their levels — it could be that they simply have insufficient amounts of magnesium in their system to activate the vitamin D. 

The interplay between magnesium and vitamin D isn't a one-way street, though. It goes both ways. Interestingly, while vitamin D improves magnesium absorption, taking large doses of vitamin D can also deplete magnesium. Again, the reason for that is because magnesium is required in the conversion of vitamin D into its active form.

i. Research


According to a scientific review published in 2018, as many as 50% of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form, and the reason for this is because they have insufficient magnesium levels.

Similarly, GrassrootsHealth has found you need 146% more vitamin D to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) if you do not take supplemental magnesium, compared to taking your vitamin D with at least 400 mg of magnesium per day.


As noted by coauthor Mohammed Razzaque, professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania:
"People are taking vitamin D supplements but don't realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, vitamin D is not really useful. By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on vitamin D supplements.”

“… [C]onsumption of vitamin D supplements can increase a person's calcium and phosphate levels even if they remain vitamin D deficient. The problem is people may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren't high enough to prevent the complication. Patients with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels …

Deficiency in either of these nutrients is reported to be associated with various disorders, including skeletal deformities, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome. While the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for males and 320 mg for females, the standard diet in the United States contains only about 50 percent of that amount.

As much as half of the total population is estimated to be consuming a magnesium-deficient diet.”

Furthermore, higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency. As noted in one 2013 study:
“Magnesium plays an essential role in the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation substantially reversed the resistance to vitamin D treatment in patients with magnesium-dependent vitamin-D-resistant rickets … High intake of total, dietary or supplemental magnesium was independently associated with significantly reduced risks of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency respectively.

Intake of magnesium significantly interacted with intake of vitamin D in relation to risk of both vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Additionally, the inverse association between total magnesium intake and vitamin D insufficiency primarily appeared among populations at high risk of vitamin D insufficiency.

Furthermore, the associations of serum 25(OH)D with mortality, particularly due to cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, were modified by magnesium intake, and the inverse associations were primarily present among those with magnesium intake above the median. Our preliminary findings indicate it is possible that magnesium intake alone or its interaction with vitamin D intake may contribute to vitamin D status.”

ii. Vitamin D and Magnesium for Covid-19

While vitamin D and magnesium are important for overall health year-round, they may be of particular importance right now, as we're still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in many areas of the world, and a second wave is expected in the fall.

According to preliminary research (SourceSource) that is still undergoing peer review, older COVID-19 patients given a combination of vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B12 fared significantly better than those who did not receive the supplements.

A review by Dinicolantonio et al (Mo Med Feb 2021) also suggested vitamin D and magnesium deficiency as a potential cause of cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients and recommended that vitamin D and magnesium supplementation to be considered.

d. Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2 and Magnesium

Vascular calcification is a side effect of low magnesium, so when taking vitamin D3, you need both vitamin K2 and magnesium to make sure everything is working properly. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

According to research by GrassrootsHealth, "combined intake of both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 has a greater effect on vitamin D levels than either individually,". 

This research also mentions that "those taking both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those taking either supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2 or neither."

Data from nearly 3,000 individuals reveal you need 244% more oral vitamin D if you're not also taking magnesium and vitamin K2. As reported by GrassrootsHealth:

"… 244% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2 compared to those who usually took both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2."

What this means in practical terms is that if you take all three supplements in combination, you need far less oral vitamin D in order to achieve a healthy vitamin D level.

9. Online Shopping Guide

1. Nature Made Magnesium Glycinate > Best Magnesium Glycinate


3. NOW Supplements, Magnesium Malate > Best Magnesium Malate

4. LES Labs Magnesium Citrate > Best Magnesium Citrate

5. Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate > Best Magnesium Taurate 

6. Nature Made Magnesium Oxide > Best Magnesium Oxide Supplement

7. Life Extension Neuro-Mag Magnesium L-Threonate > Best Magnesium for Brain Fog

8. Pure Encapsulations Magnesium > Magnesium for Constipation

9. Benevolent Nourishment Magnesium Complex > Magnesium for Sleep

10. Nature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour + > Magnesium and Vitamin D Supplement

11. Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium Glycinate Lysinate, Chelated

12. Sundown Magnesium Supplement > Best Magnesium Supplement for Constipation and Sleep



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