The Importance of Magnesium

Importance of Magnesium

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, and it is one that is very important for your brain and body health. Many people have a magnesium deficit and doesn’t aware of Importance of Magnesium – it is more common in women and the elderly. Low magnesium levels in the body have been linked to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis.

With today’s modern diet and the commercial farming practices, are we getting as much magnesium as we need?

How much magnesium do we need each day?

The recommended intake of magnesium (1) advised by the Food and Nutrition Board changes according to your age.

Babies under 6 months are recommended 30mg per day; children under the age of 13 are recommended between 75 – 240mg per day; and teenagers are recommended 240 – 410mg, but only up to 360 for teenage girls.

Adult males are recommended 400 – 420mg per day and adult women are recommended 310 – 320mg per day.

Magnesium in plants (2)

Due to changes in the soil, plants and cereals are having less and less magnesium present in them. This is due to many factors such as acidic soils; high rainfall in tropical areas causes leaching of the magnesium out of the soil; the use of certain fertilizers and pesticides which change the composition of the soil, and the demand on commercial and small farmers to produce more and more leading to crop monoculture (i.e. no crop rotation practices).

This can mean the soil doesn’t have a chance to recover before replanting occurs, and the soil becomes devoid of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for plants to flourish, and for humans to obtain their required doses of these minerals.

History of magnesium in our diets (3)

It has been seen that the amount of magnesium consumed each day has decreased dramatically over the past 100 years or so. Previously the levels of magnesium consumed were about 500mg/day, whereas the levels consumed now are between 175-225mg/day. This is most likely due to the increased use of synthetic fertilizers that affect the soil and plants, crop monoculture, as well as the increase in processed foods.

Magnesium absorption (4)

Magnesium is primarily absorbed in the small intestine. There are some minerals, vitamins and foods that can help or hinder the absorption of magnesium. Vitamin D can increase the absorption of magnesium, as well as healthy oils that contain medium-chain triglycerides like coconut oil.

Some of the foods and substances that may hinder magnesium absorption are cow’s milk as it contains high levels of phosphates which inhibits magnesium uptake. Coffees and tea have diuretic effects and these can increase the magnesium secretion through your urine.

15 Most essential function of Magnesium

1. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of your body’s biochemical reactions (5)

One of magnesium’s main function is a “helper molecule” because it helps in the biochemical reactions performed by enzymes. Some examples are energy creation by converting food into energy; helps create new proteins from amino acids; helps to create and repair DNA and RNA as well as helping to regulate your nervous system.

2. Boosting exercise performance (6)

During exercise magnesium helps to move blood sugar into your muscles as you move and it helps to dispose of lactate, which can build up in muscles during exercise. The lactate can cause pain and soreness.

3. Magnesium helps to fight depression (7)

Magnesium is very important for brain function and controlling mood. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to depression. Studies showed an increase magnesium had a significant effect on the depression symptoms the subjects were experiencing. (8)

4. It helps to fight Type 2 Diabetes (9)

Studies show that about 50% of those with type 2 diabetes, have low levels of magnesium. By increasing your magnesium levels, it can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

5. Magnesium can help to lower blood pressure (10)

Studies have shown that magnesium can lower blood pressure in those who have high blood pressure. One study showed those who took 450mg per day of magnesium had a significant decrease in their systolic and diastolic blood pressures. (11)

6. Magnesium can help to relieve anxiety (12) (13)

Lower amounts of magnesium have been linked to an increased level of anxiety. Research has shown that those with a low magnesium diet may have altered gut bacteria and this can have a link to anxiety.

7. Magnesium helps with migraines (14) (15)

There is limited research to show that magnesium can help with migraines but there have been some studies showing an increase in magnesium every day can have a small effect on the frequency of migraines.

8. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory benefits (16)

Low magnesium intake has been linked to chronic inflammation. This is one of the drivers for obesity, ageing and chronic diseases. Magnesium supplements have been seen to lower the amount of the inflammatory marker CRP in older adults.

9. Magnesium is important for bone health (17)

Magnesium is important for bone formation and growth. It helps the calcium to assimilate into bone and it also plays a role in activating vitamin D in the kidneys. The right levels of magnesium intake are associated with greater bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause.

10. Magnesium helps with heart health (18)

Magnesium is important to maintain the health of muscle, including muscles of the heart. It also helps with the electrical transmission of signals in the body. Adequate magnesium intake has been seen to lower the risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, or fatty build up on the walls of the arteries.

11. Magnesium can improve the symptoms of PMS (19)

Correct amounts of magnesium intake, especially when combined with the right doses of vitamin B6, may help the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms such as bloating, leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness.

12. It helps to boost calcium absorption (20)

Both calcium and magnesium absorption are very important for bone health and for preventing osteoporosis. Magnesium helps with the metabolizing of calcium, and the two should be taken together.

13. Improves your sleep (21) (22)

Magnesium can help to improve your sleep by a few different ways. It helps to regulate melatonin, which is important as it guides your body’s wake and sleep cycle. Magnesium also works with gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) receptors, and these are important neurotransmitters that help quiet down nerve activity and thus prepare the body for sleep.       

14. Improves muscle cramps and pain (23)

Magnesium helps to balance the effect of calcium on your muscle and its contractions. Magnesium it helps to relax your muscle fibers. It is why magnesium is often prescribed for muscle cramps.

15. General relaxation (24)

Magnesium blocks calcium in binding to muscle fibers, and magnesium can help to cause overall general relaxation of your muscles and tissues. It also helps with quietening of nerve activity and calming down the body.

Top 10 food sources of Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in many different foods. Of course, it goes without saying, when you trying to help and heal your body, choose the best sources. Therefore, organic, non-gmo, local, regenerative farming, etc. Here are some of the best whole-food based sources of magnesium:

  1. Cacao or dark chocolate – it is very rich in magnesium with 272mg(25) in a 100-gram serving.
  2. Nuts – nuts are a good, healthy source of magnesium with about 82mg of magnesium in each ounce.
  3. Legumes – foods like beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans are a great source of magnesium. They contain around 120mg of magnesium per cup of legume.
  4. Brown rice – this is a very healthy source of magnesium, with a cup of brown rice containing about 86mg of magnesium.
  5. Bananas – bananas contain about 41mg of magnesium per cup of sliced banana.
  6. Seeds – seeds such as pumpkin and squash seeds are very high in magnesium, containing 156mg per 1-ounce handful.
  7. Spinach – spinach is very high in magnesium. It contains 157mg of magnesium per cup of spinach.
  8. Whole grains – whole grains are foods like wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat and quinoa. They contain around 65mg of magnesium per 1 ounce serving.
  9. Fish – certain types of fatty fish are high in magnesium, like mackerel, salmon and halibut. Half a fillet of salmon, around 180 grams, contains 53mg of magnesium.
  10. Avocado – a single medium-sized avocado contains 39 mg of magnesium.


Magnesium is essential for your body to function at it’s optimum, and our modern diets of processed foods and modern agricultural practices don’t always give us all the magnesium that we need.

By including some fresh organic and non-gmo vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts into your diet you can help to improve your overall health by improving your magnesium intake. When it comes to nuts, seeds, and grains, pre-soaking and/or sprouting is extremely important in order to make the nutrients more bioavailable and absorbable by your body. Start by choosing one or two of these foods to include your diet, and then slowly try to add one or two more. In addition, incorporate the use of sea salt or Himalayan salt into your meals. Alternatively, there are every good magnesium supplements available to help you to ensure you are getting the correct intake of magnesium every day.


  1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.

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