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Magnesium Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Magnesium is a mineral known as an essential element in human nutrition. It is required for no less than 300 reactions and processes that take place in the body on a day to day basis. Like many other vitamins and minerals, Magnesium has been studied in what concerns its impact on human health. It has most commonly been associated with functions such as energy production, bone, and teeth health, detoxification, and nervous system protection. Magnesium helps regulate levels of several other important body nutrients, such as calcium, Vitamin D, or Zinc to mention only a few. Magnesium can be obtained from various dietary sources; however, there are cases when supplementation is required in order to meet the daily recommended doses.

Taking a dietary supplement rich in Magnesium should always be overseen by a healthcare provider. The body is able to absorb roughly 20 to 50 5 of the orally ingested Magnesium. This is why it is important to address potential deficiencies by understanding how absorption can be maximized and improved. Common symptoms of depletion of this mineral include anxiety, nausea, sleep troubles, confusion, muscle spasm, or weakness. As soon as any of these symptoms are observed, a physician should be consulted.

Magnesium Functions & Benefits

Several health conditions and diseases have been associated with Magnesium deficiencies, which we will greatly detail in the following paragraphs. These conditions are psychological or physical in nature and, in extreme cases, may pose real threats to a person’s health.

Because magnesium may enhance Calcium absorption, it is believed that it may help prevent a condition called osteoporosis, which causes bone mass loss especially in people of old age. Preventive magnesium doses are usually recommended.

The mineral is believed to have a variety of benefits on the heart and cardiovascular system altogether. It is associated with reduced risk of stroke, lower risk of coronary heart disease, and to normalizing heart rhythm. Further therapeutic applications for the cardiovascular system are being studied. Low blood pressure is known to be influenced by optimum levels of potassium and magnesium, hence ensuring a diet rich in magnesium may also keep your blood pressure in check.

Another potential application of Magnesium is in treating diabetes, as several studies indicate that individuals with a magnesium deficiency have a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Magnesium is involved in the process of energy production by aiding in carbohydrate metabolism. In doing so, it influences the release of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels and may hence prevent diabetes from occurring.

Several psychological symptoms have been linked to a lack of optimum Magnesium levels, including migraines, insomnia, or depression. By providing your body with sufficient supplies of this mineral, dysfunctions of the neurological equilibrium may be avoided or prevented. Panic attacks, anxiety, irritability, and depressed feelings may be a consequence of low levels of magnesium.

Asthma attacks may be cured to some extent by intravenous magnesium doses or inhaled Magnesium. Children aged 6 to 18 have shown encouraging improvements in the frequency of these attacks. Moreover, a person deficient in Magnesium faces higher risks of developing this condition in the first place, as one clinical study has revealed. This is true for both children and adults, hence preventive measures are recommended.

Fibromyalgia, another important health condition manifested through tenderness in the joints, muscle and tendons or other soft tissues and a generalized pain, has been shown to benefit from magnesium based remedies. Although studies conducted so far are small-scale studies, the combination of Magnesium and Malic acid may prove to be beneficial for those suffering from this condition.


Magnesium supplementation should be done only after a doctor’s consent, due to potential serious implications associated with a misuse of this mineral. Usually, the B complex of vitamins is recommended in association with Magnesium supplementary doses, because B vitamins determine how much magnesium will be absorbed into the body. The daily recommended dose depends on factors such as age, gender, and condition of the patient. A child aged between 1 and 3 years old is advised to take 40 to 80 mg per day, while older children(9 to 13) may increase the daily dose to 240 mg. Adult males are advised to use 410 mg of magnesium daily, while females only 360 mg per day. Pregnant females should always consult their doctor prior to increasing the Magnesium dose, however, a general 400 mg dose is recommended. Breastfeeding women can take 310-320 mg per day, depending on the age of the mother to be.

The common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include anxiety, general restlessness and agitation, muscle weakness, restless leg syndrome (RLS), inability to sleep, vomiting, irritability, nausea, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle weakness, poor nail growth, and sometimes seizures. People with a gastrointestinal disorder, those with a kidney condition, the elderly, those who have a fiber-rich diet are particularly exposed to developing a magnesium deficiency, hence caution is recommended.

There are potential drug interactions that should be taken into account prior to starting using Magnesium supplements. These include antibiotics, blood pressure medications and calcium channel blockers, diabetes medication, diuretics, hormone replacement remedies (particularly for post-menopausal women), and aminoglycosides to mention only a few. The complete list of interactions should be further discussed with a physician. People suffering from known medical conditions or already under treatment should consult a healthcare provider prior to starting using Magnesium supplements.

Best Magnesium Sources

There are numerous naturally found sources of magnesium. A healthy and balanced diet should ensure proper levels are supplied, however, due to several factors (depletion of soils, lower quality of natural foods, pollution, health conditions, other medications) supplementing these doses may become an option.

Magnesium-rich foods include bran (rice, wheat, etc), dried herbs, pumpkin and watermelon seeds, cocoa powder, Brazil nuts, flax and sesame seeds, almonds, and soybeans. For instance, pumpkin seeds may provide as much as 535 mg of magnesium per 100 grams, meaning a 134% from the daily recommended value. Watermelon seeds provide 129% of the daily value per each 100-gram serving, while cocoa powder may provide as much as 125% from the daily value for the same serving quantity.