Magnesium And Its Magnificent Benefits

Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health Swathi Handoo MSc (Biotechnology), Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health Experience: 4 years
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From curing migraines and muscle cramps to strengthening your bones and enhancing exercise performance and insulin sensitivity – this multitasking mineral does it all effortlessly!

The name of this mind-blowing multitasker is magnesium, and you HAVE to know how important it is for your health today.

Scroll down to discover the benefits of including magnesium in your diet and a lot more.

Table Of Contents

Why Is Magnesium So Important?

Magnesium is a micronutrient and an abundant mineral found in your body. It is a cofactor for more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions.

Crucial processes like DNA and protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, regulation of your heartbeat, kidney functioning, blood glucose control, and production of ATP (energy source) require optimal levels of magnesium.

For your body to even function the way it is supposed to, you need magnesium. Read on to understand what I mean.

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What Role Does Magnesium Play In Your Body?

Magnesium carries out various functions in your body, which might all happen at a time. Out of all those, let me list a few essential benefits here:

1. Maintains Bone And Muscle Health

The presence of free magnesium in the blood is crucial for the absorption of calcium into your bones (1). Magnesium is a vital cofactor for the enzymes that cause muscle contraction. It is also responsible for neuromuscular transmission (2).

Deficiency of magnesium (hypomagnesemia) can be first identified when a person frequently complains of leg cramps, muscle cramps, chronic skeletal pain (neck, back, joints, etc.), and swelling.

2. Can Treat Migraine, Headaches, And Anxiety

Given a choice, I’d choose a broken bone (fracture) over a migraine!

Unbearable hammering and a pulsating and throbbing headache with hyperacusis and phonophobia – such is the pain migraine puts you through. Research suggests that up to 50% of patients have low levels of magnesium during an acute migraine attack (3).

Boosting magnesium levels in the blood relieves not only migraine attacks but also nagging cluster headaches, anxiety, memory loss, and cognition issues at large because ionized magnesium affects serotonin receptors that influence all these neurological and biological processes.

3. Works Wonders For Skin Problems

Since it is one of those minerals that are very quickly absorbed through the skin, magnesium is the ideal skin care solution. Be it allergies, pimples, oily skin, wrinkles, rosacea, or acne – magnesium cures them all because of the potent anti-inflammatory action it exhibits (4).

Lower levels of magnesium in the blood result in an increase of proinflammatory cytokines, along with cells like eosinophils and neutrophils – and that’s bad news (5)!

Having magnesium-rich foods or supplements controls this hypersensitivity and assists enzymes that keep your skin younger, clearer, and wrinkle-free.

4. Is Responsible For Cardiovascular Health

Dietary magnesium protects your heart and keeps cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, and arrhythmia at bay.

It improves myocardial metabolism, prevents calcium accumulation and myocardial cell death, reduces arrhythmias due to oxidative stress, and aids lipid metabolism to avoid cholesterol accumulation in the blood vessels (6).

One of the most prevalent complaints among youth and adults these days is hypertension, and insufficient magnesium is one of the reasons behind it. Consuming magnesium in the form of supplements or through diet lowers the systolic and diastolic pressure in such patients, but it might have little or no effect on those with normal or low BP (7).

5. Helps In Managing Types 2 Diabetes

Helps In Managing Types 2 Diabetes
Image: Shutterstock

Research says it is common for people with type 2 diabetes to have hypomagnesemia. This deficiency arises due to poor diet, diuretic loss, erratic blood glucose levels, or a collective effect of all the three reasons.

Low intracellular magnesium levels result in impaired uptake of the secreted insulin by the surrounding cells. This reduces insulin sensitivity in them. The resistance increases the free glucose levels in your blood, which can trigger multiple organ damages, starting with your kidneys (8). Doesn’t that make things worse if you have diabetes?

So, to avoid or break this vicious cycle, consume magnesium in various forms.

6. Prevents Complications During Pregnancy And Delivery

Pregnancy is a phase that requires a higher intake of magnesium, along with several other nutrients. Since it is actively transported to the fetus, pregnant women have to consume at least 300 mg of magnesium per day (9).

Sadly, not many expecting mothers meet that mark.

Hypomagnesemia during pregnancy can affect the kidneys, liver, and also the heart – not only yours, but the baby’s too! The chances of developing complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cerebral palsy, chronic hypertension, leg cramps, and fetal growth retardation are higher (10).

Above all, consuming enough magnesium can prevent preterm labor, reduce the risk of third-trimester stillbirths, and promote fetal growth.

Who doesn’t love happy and healthy babies!

7. Is Important In Weight Management

Magnesium is the vital factor for many enzyme-mediated biological processes, and it plays a crucial role in weight management, especially in reducing obesity.

Loss or lack of magnesium has an impact on fat metabolism, leading to weight issues. Deficits in mineral levels (especially magnesium, zinc, and selenium) were reported in the serum of obese adults when compared to normal non-obese adults.

Whether this mineral prevents or cures obesity is not clear. But maintaining optimum magnesium levels can avert various disorders caused by obesity like atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, renal failure, and hyperlipidemia (11).

8. Has Potent Anti-inflammatory Properties

When there is sufficient magnesium in your body cells, there is minimal or no production of inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) like tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukins (IL-6), NF-ϰβ, etc.

Otherwise, these pro-inflammatory cytokines give rise to conditions like preeclampsia and seizures and cause major motor dysfunction in infants and newborns (12).

In adults, hypomagnesemia leads to inflammation of various tissues and organs, giving rise to plantar fasciitis, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, seizures, insulitis, gout, fibromyalgia, hypersensitivity, asthma, multiple sclerosis, tendinitis, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Having the right levels of magnesium is now going to be mandatory, isn’t it?

9. Is Involved In Energy Production And Performance

Is Involved In Energy Production And Performance
Image: Shutterstock

Ever wondered what the white gym chalk powder was? And why do people use it before lifting weights and gymnastics?

You’d be surprised to know that it is magnesium carbonate!

Magnesium, along with zinc, chromium, and other micronutrients, improves the exercise performance and muscle metabolism, increasing the stamina of a physically active person. This mineral enhances the rate of glucose production from glycogen (alternate energy source) to give more energy to the brain and muscles during exercise (13).

10. Helps In Coping With PMS

Menstrual cramps, mood swings, cravings, nausea, hot flashes, drop in blood pressure, backache – and the list goes on! Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) leaves you feeling like a messy bunch of hormones.

But the good news is that having magnesium-rich foods or supplements can help you tackle mood swings, headaches, fluid retention, and other symptoms (14). Magnesium is also essential for the utilization of carbohydrates during your menstrual cycle (15).

11. Treats Acid Reflux, GERD, And Other Gastric Diseases

As magnesium has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, consuming it orally prevents acid reflux, flatulence, acidity, and constipation (16).
It is also a cofactor for many digestive enzymes that are responsible for carbohydrate, lipid, and fat metabolism. It helps in the relaxation of the GI tract muscles, giving it a laxative property.

Perhaps this is why we are given ‘milk of magnesia’ as a remedy for almost all gastric issues!

It is fascinating to know how a micronutrient can matter so much to our body, isn’t it? So, how do we ensure that it is present in optimal levels all the time?

The simplest way is by eating right.

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What Foods Are Rich In Magnesium?

Here is a list of magnesium-rich foods with required daily intake, for you to choose.

FoodMilligrams (mg) perservingPercent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce8020
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup7820
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce7419
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup6316
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits6115
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup6115
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup6015
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup5013
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons4912
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices4612
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup4411
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces4311
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup4211
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces4211
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium4010
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet369
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup359
Banana, 1 medium328
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces267
Milk, 1 cup24–276–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces246
Raisins, ½ cup236
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces226
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces205
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup123
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup103
Apple, 1 medium92
Carrot, raw, 1 medium72

How about some nice and fresh avocados for lunch today?

How about some nice and fresh avocados for lunch today
Image: Giphy

Now that you know what to eat to provide your body with maximum magnesium, you might also like to know what happens to it. More importantly, what happens if there’s excess magnesium in your body? Read on!

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How Is Magnesium Metabolized And Distributed?

Our body absorbs approximately 30-40% of the dietary magnesium. Following are the recommended dietary allowances across age groups:

Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*
1–3 years80 mg80 mg
4–8 years130 mg130 mg
9–13 years240 mg240 mg
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg

An average adult has 25 g of magnesium, out of which 50-60% is present in the bones, and the rest in the soft tissues.

Magnesium levels in the serum are tightly controlled and range between 0.75 to 0.95 millimoles/liter. Anything below 0.75 mmol/L results in hypomagnesemia.

Thanks to our kidneys, almost 120 mg of magnesium is excreted in urine daily to avoid accumulation. The amount discharged is reduced during hypomagnesemia.

This leads us to the next question. What happens when there’s an excess of magnesium in your body?

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What Happens When There’s Too Much Magnesium?

Too much of this mineral doesn’t particularly pose a risk to your health, but it might result in diarrhea and nausea.

But if the serum magnesium concentration crosses 1.74 mmol/L, it might cause lethal side effects like:

  • Hypotension (Low BP)
  • Vomiting
  • Retention of urine
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Arrhythmia
  • Renal failure and in the worst case,
  • Cardiac arrest (17)

And what’s the case when your body has low levels of the mineral?

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What Happens When There’s Too Little Magnesium?

Deficiency in magnesium could occur if you are on blood thinners or diuretics. Otherwise, hypomagnesemia can lead to multiple disorders that we discussed above.

Signs of severe deficiency include:

  • Numbness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle contractions or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypocalcemia or hypokalemia (calcium and potassium deficiency respectively)

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In conclusion…

I was overwhelmed with the number of benefits magnesium has to offer – and I hope it’s the same with you. All you have to do is eat the right kind of foods and keep a tab on its serum levels.

Since magnesium is involved in so many enzymatic reactions, and so little of it is present in the serum, it is difficult to quantify and assess its levels.

It’s always better to eat healthy – try including the ingredients we discussed in this article and stay fit.

If you got all that you were looking for about magnesium in this article and have creative recipes with magnesium-rich foods, feel free to drop your feedback and suggestions in the comments box below. Also, like and share this article to spread the word!


  1. “Magnesium and the regulation…” Federation Proceedings, US National Library of Medicine
  2. “Muscle cramps and magnesium…” Douglas L.J.Bilbey
  3. “Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis…” Clinical Neuroscience, US National Library of Medicine
  4. “Magnesium – Good For Your Skin and Body” Space Coast Education Center
  5. “Magnesium in skin allergy” Postepy higieny i medycyny doswiadczalnej, US National Library of Medicine
  6. “Magnesium and cardiovascular system” Magnesium Research, US National Library of Medicine
  7. “The effect of lowering blood pressure by…” Journal of Human Hypertension, Nature
  8. “Magnesium and type 2 diabetes” World Journal of Diabetes
  9. “Nutrition during Pregnancy…” NCBI Bookshelf
  10. “Effect of magnesium supplement…” Advanced Biomedical Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  11. “Comparison Of Serum Magnesium Levels…” Cureus, US National Library of Medicine
  12. “Magnesium Decreases Inflammatory Cytokine…” The Journal of Immunology
  13. “Magnesium Enhances Exercise Performance…” PLoS one, US National Library of Medicine
  14. “Oral magnesium successfully relieves…” Obstetrics and Gynecology, US National Library of Medicine
  15. “Changes in serum calcium, magnesium and…” Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
  16. “Current Pharmacological management of…” Gastroenterology Research and Practice

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Swathi Handoo
Swathi HandooHealth & Wellness Writer
Swathi holds a master’s degree in biotechnology from Osmania University and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. She has four years of experience and a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University.

Read full bio of Swathi Handoo
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