The Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is a crucial macronutrient that plays an important role in many body processes, including muscle, nerve and bone health as well as mood. It is a vital mineral, participating in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. The main functions of magnesium include assisting with muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure and maintaining the function of the immune system.

Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions and hence, getting enough magnesium can prevent or cure chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and migraine. Magnesium is present naturally in some foods like almonds, spinach and cashew nuts, however, many people cannot get this mineral through their daily diet. Insuch cases, doctors may recommend taking magnesium supplements.

Before exploring the health benefits of magnesium, let us understand the recommended magnesium intake for a human body to function properly.

Recommended Magnesium Intake

Many foods such as nuts and seeds, dark green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain high levels of magnesium. Manufacturers also put in magnesium to some breakfast cereals and other prepared foods. Consuming a variety of magnesium-rich foods as per the quantity suggested by nutritionists may ensure getting enough of this nutrient in the diet. Spinach, chia seeds, peanut butter, and avocados are also a few examples that are rich in magnesium and make perfect additions to smoothies, snacks and other dishes. It is advised to choose cereals and bread products made with whole grains as wheat products may lose magnesium when the wheat is refined.

As per the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the following table shows the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium intake as per age and sex. The quantity is in milligrams (mg).

Age (in years) Male Female
1–3 80 80
4–8 130 130
9–13 240 240
14–18 410 360
19–30 400 310
31–50 420 320
51+ 420 320

Women should raise their magnesium intake by around 40 mg per day during pregnancy. Breast milk provides adequate magnesium for babies under 1 year old.

Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential nutrient for our body and offers immense health benefits. Adequate intake of magnesium may ensure the prevention of chronic diseases and assist in curing ailments related to muscle, bone health, heart, diabetes and inflammation.

Bone Health

Sufficient magnesium intake results in higher bone density, better bone crystal formation and may also lower the risk of osteoporosis in females after menopause. Magnesium may improve bone health directly and indirectly because it regulates the levels of calcium and vitamin D which are two other vital nutrients for bone health.

Glucose Control and Insulin Metabolism

Magnesium has a very crucial role to play in glucose control and insulin metabolism. Magnesium deficiency may worsen the insulin resistance capacity of the human body and this may develop into type 2 diabetes. Doctors may prescribe magnesium supplements if they notice that the person is not getting enough magnesium from the diet. Magnesium supplements may improve blood sugar levels, and insulin sensitivity and may help in treating other risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular Health

Magnesium is an essential element in maintaining heart health as its deficiency may increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Magnesium deficiency is generally observed in people with congestive heart failure (CHF).

Experts say that people who take magnesium almost immediately after a heart attack may have a lower risk of mortality. Doctors may also use magnesium for the treatment of CHF and to reduce the risk of arrhythmia and abnormal heart rhythm. It is also believed that magnesium intake may lower a person’s risk of heart stroke, but researchers are still working on the same to come to a solid conclusion.

Migraine Headaches

Magnesium therapy may help prevent or ease headaches as magnesium deficiency can affect neurotransmitters and restrict blood vessel constriction. These two are the important factors that are directly linked to migraine. Magnesium therapy may also prove beneficial for preventing migraine and doctors may suggest taking 600 mg of magnesium citrate to treat migraine headaches.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Magnesium may help in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as magnesium supplements may reduce bloating, mood symptoms and breast tenderness in PMS. Along with PMS symptoms, magnesium supplements may also help to relieve other conditions related to PMS such as menstrual cramps. Magnesium levels vary throughout the menstrual cycle, which may aggravate PMS symptoms in women who may have a deficiency. Additionally, the supplements may help reduce the harshness of symptoms, including menstrual migraine attacks.

Anxiety and Depression

Magnesium levels affect mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. Magnesium deficiency may be linked to depression and magnesium supplements may help reduce symptoms of depression. Every person is unique and so are the symptoms and requirements of people suffering from anxiety and depression. Doctors understand the necessities of their patients and prescribe magnesium supplements accordingly. Therefore, it is advised not to take these supplements without a doctor’s permission.

Biochemical Reactions

Magnesium acts as a cofactor and a helper molecule in the biochemical reactions which are constantly performed by enzymes in our body. It’s involved in more than 600 reactions in the body and performs functions like energy creation wherein food is converted into energy andprotein formation where our body creates new proteins from amino acids.

Magnesium also plays an important role in gene maintenance by helping to create and repair DNA and RNA. Moreover, magnesium aids in nervous system regulation by regulating neurotransmitters which send messages throughout the brain and nervous system. Smooth muscle contraction and relaxation are also a result of adequate magnesium in the body.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits

Low magnesium intake may be directly linked to increased levels of inflammation and result in ageing and chronic disease. Magnesium supplements can decrease the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammation like interleukin-6. This provides relief and offers anti-inflammatory benefits to our bodies.

Natural Remedy for Insomnia

Magnesium supplements are often prescribed by doctors as a natural remedy for sleep issues like insomnia. Magnesium regulates quite a few neurotransmitters involved in sleep like gamma-aminobutyric acid and assists in curing insomnia. Furthermore, magnesium supplements may also lower the time people take to fall asleep resulting in an improved sleep cycle. Increasing magnesium intake through foods or supplements may help treat sleep issues and advance sleep quality.


Following a balanced diet is exceptionally important along with focusing on a single nutrient like magnesium. There are enormous foods which act as a natural source of magnesium. However, if a person is unable to attain the recommended intake level of magnesium through food, magnesium supplements can be taken. Though these supplements are normally well tolerated, they may be risky for people who take diuretics, heart medications or antibiotics. Hence, one must always consult a doctor before taking any magnesium supplements.