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What are the benefits of magnesium?

21 October 2021|2 min read

Feeling fatigued? Stressed? Trouble sleeping? Muscle aches and pains? Magnesium might just be what you’re missing!

Discover what magnesium does, where to get it, and how much you need each day.

What is magnesium? 

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a vital role in the body’s bone structure and cellular reactions. As a cofactor for more than 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, magnesium is crucial in:

  • energy (ATP) metabolism
  • protein synthesis
  • muscle and nerve function
  • blood glucose control
  • blood pressure regulation. 

What foods have magnesium?

In general, foods that contain fibre will also be a good source of magnesium, including leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Magnesium foods to look for include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach,  soymilk and brown rice.

What are the different forms of magnesium? 

There are many different forms of magnesium (we’ll be covering the most common) which is important to know when considering supplementation. 

Some may be useful for topical application, while others can be taken internally. 

Topical use

Let’s start with those luscious epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulphate. For external use only, epsom salts can be used by adding one to two cups to a warm bath. 

Via skin absorption these salts may help to calm the mind and re-energise the body. 

Some epsom salts include the addition of essential oils and these should be avoided in pregnancy. If you are ever unsure, it is always best to consult your medical professional. 

Magnesium chloride is another form of magnesium that, as flakes, can be used in a warm bath for trans-dermal absorption. 

Magnesium chloride is also often used in lotions, gels, oils or creams which can be directly applied to the skin and tired muscles such as the lower back or legs. 

Often also combined with essential oils, the formulation can help induce a peaceful night sleep and relax the nervous system. 

Magnesium supplements

When it comes to ingesting magnesium by way of supplementation, look out for the form with the highest bioavailability and absorption. 

  • magnesium glycinate is a very stable form of magnesium that is less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset such as cramps, discomfort and diarrhea. 
  • magnesium citrate naturally occurs in the body, so it is also well absorbed and fast acting. It does pull water into the bowel which can have a laxative effect and possibly softer stools. In such cases, dosage may need to be adjusted.  
  • magnesium oxide is another form of magnesium that is commonly found in supplements.

Depending on the product, magnesium supplements may also contain synergistic ingredients such as B vitamins, electrolytes and herbs to support energy production, and to support a healthy nervous system.  

How much magnesium do you need?

The amount of amount magnesium you need each day varies depending on your age and gender:

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for children is:

  • 80mg/day for kids aged 1 - 3 years
  • 130mg/day between the ages of 4 - 8 years of age
  • 240mg/day for 9-13 year olds. 
  • 410mg/day for boys aged 14-18 years
  • 360mg/day for girls aged 14-18 years 

In adults, the RDI of magnesium is:

  • 310mg/day for women under 30 years of age , which increases to 320mg/day for women over 30. 
  • 400mg/day, which increases to 420mg/day for men over 30. 

What is magnesium good for and should you be considering it? 

Based on magnesium’s many functions within the human body, supplementation may play an important role in eradicating certain symptoms associated with nervous system functioning, cellular energy, musculoskeletal health, and general health and wellbeing, particularly when dietary intake is inadequate. 

Blood glucose levels and insulin resistance

When it comes to disease states such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the importance of adequate magnesium status is evident. 

Low dietary levels and low serum magnesium proves to be a risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome. Similarly, studies have shown that a 100 mg/day increase in total magnesium intake reduced the risk of diabetes.

Stress relief & restful sleep

Studies have shown that when it comes to stress, magnesium supplementation may help to regulate the nervous system, promote a healthy stress response and thus reduce cortisol (our stress hormone) output. 

Magnesium may also help to reduce the occurrence of restless sleep and may support calming the mind to help support sleep health. 

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Magnesium supplementation may also be a useful treatment for premenstrual syndrome with some evidence suggesting that supplementation can improve symptoms of PMS associated with altered mood and fluid retention

Bone health

When it comes to skeletal health, magnesium is involved in bone formation and supports the body’s bone health by regulating vitamin D.

There are studies supporting the use of magnesium supplementation in reducing bone loss and bone turnover in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.  

Mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet. They can only be of assistance if the dietary intake is inadequate, and if you believe you may be deficient in magnesium, always consult your health professional first.

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board October 2021 


This article contains information and advice of general nature only. You should always consult with your medical professional for health and wellness advice specific to your personal circumstances.