21 Proven, Science-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium (including drawbacks)

Magnesium is super important for so many issues.  It’s one of the basic supplements that almost everyone should take.



Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in our body (R). It is essential to all living cells, and vital for numerous physiological functions (R).

Magnesium is required for the production of ATP (the main source of energy in our cells) (R), and the production of DNA, RNA and proteins (R, R).

Magnesium plays an important role in cell-to-cell communication (R).

Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium to function properly (R).

Because of its positive charge, magnesium stabilizes the cellular cover (membranes) (R).

Magnesium can benefit even people who are not ‘deficient’.

Magnesium is important for:

  • bone health (R).
  • muscle contraction and relaxation (R,R).
  • heart rhythm and blood pressure (R).
  • stabilizing blood glucose levels, and regulating sugar and fat metabolisms (R, R).
  • neurotransmitter production and regulation (R),
  • neural function (R).
  • the immune system (R).

Magnesium Deficiency


Low consumption of magnesium is common throughout the world (R).

Dietary magnesium intakes among most American adults are low. A study estimated the magnesium intake from food sources to 261 mg in women and 347 mg in men, which is well below the RDA (320 mg for women and 420 mg for men) (R).

Low magnesium levels in the body may occur due to defects in its absorption or as a result of its loss via kidneys (in case of diabetes, alcoholism, treatment with antidiuretics, aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, cisplatin, digoxin, cyclosporine, amphotericin B) (R).

Acute emotional stress and stressful activities increase magnesium excretion/loss (R).

Magnesium excretion increases while absorption decreases with age, because of various chronic diseases and decreased intake of foods high in magnesium (R).

Elderly women may be more susceptible to magnesium deficiencies than men, partly because they are more likely to have osteoporosis, which limits the exchange of magnesium between bone and blood (R).

Magnesium deficiency produces a variety of neuromuscular and psychiatric symptoms such as hyperexcitability, agitation, tetany (involuntary muscle contractions), headaches, seizures, ataxia, vertigo, muscular weakness, tremors, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, nervous fits, faintness, fatigue, confusion, hallucinations and depression (R).

Severe dietary magnesium restriction has a detrimental effect on metabolism, glucose balance, and retention and excretion of other minerals (R).

The Magnesium That I Take

Below, I give a bunch of different good options to buy Magnesium, but some people want to to know which one I take.


  • Longevity8.5/10
  • Inflammation8.5/10
  • Mood9.5/10
  • Cognition9.0/10
  • Energy9.3/10


  • Has a very wide range of actions and can benefit the body in many ways.
  • Excellent for mood and mental health. Helps you relax and combat stress, while also giving you energy.
  • It’s gentle and can be taken daily.
  • Great for Heart Health
  • Safe for pregnant women


  • You need to take more than one pill if you want to “feel it.”
  • Can cause loose stools if you take too much
  • Doesn’t taste good if it’s not in a capsule

1) Magnesium Can Improve Physical Performance

Magnesium is required for proper muscle function, both at rest and during exercise (R).

Magnesium deficiency can impair exercise capacity and reduce physical performance (R).

Magnesium depletion is associated with increased inflammation, muscle cell alterations, and impaired calcium balance in the cells (R).

Magnesium supplements had a positive impact on performance in resistance exercise (R) and improved performance in volleyball players, even though the players were not magnesium-deficient (R).

Other studies failed to find improvements in muscle strength and function (R).

Generally, magnesium supplements have a greater effect when dietary intake or blood levels are low (R).

Magnesium supplements prevent or delay age-related decline in physical performance (R).

Daily magnesium oxide supplementation for 12 weeks improved physical performance in healthy elderly women (R).

2) Magnesium Maintains Bone Integrity

Magnesium is needed for vitamin D production and function

Controlling and maintaining magnesium levels (homeostasis) is important for bone integrity (R), because both low and high magnesium levels have harmful effects on the bones (R).

Lower magnesium intake is associated with lower bone mineral density (R), and promotes osteoporosis (R).

In postmenopausal women, low magnesium intake has been correlated with more rapid bone loss or lower bone mineral density (R).

Magnesium supplementation was beneficial in osteoporotic women (R).

On the other hand, elevated magnesium may have a harmful effect on bone metabolism and parathyroid gland function, leading to mineralization defects (R).

Magnesium excess (5–10 times nutrient requirements) in rats had no effect on bone mineral density in short-term, but lowered bone mineral density in long-term studies (R).

Bone lesions and lower bone mineral density were recorded in cases of acute exposure to high-dose magnesium in humans (R).

Magnesium consumption slightly greater than the RDA was associated with increased lower-arm and wrist fractures that were possibly related to more physical activity and falls (R).

3) Magnesium Reduces Blood Pressure

Magnesium supplementation has led to reductions in blood pressure of up to 12 points (mmHg) (R,R).

Magnesium increases the effectiveness of all drug classes that reduce blood pressure (R), and additionally decreases high blood pressure in patients on blood pressure lowering medications (R).

4) Magnesium Protects against Cardio-Vascular Disease


Magnesium is required for the normal electrical activity of the heart, and has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, by widening blood vessels, improving fat metabolism, reducing inflammation, and inhibiting blood platelet aggregation (R).

Low magnesium and experimental restriction of dietary magnesium increase cardiac arrhythmias (R).

Abnormally low circulating magnesium is a known risk factor for cardiac arrest (R).

Increases in circulating magnesium was associated with a 30% lower risk of cardio-vascular disease, while dietary magnesium was associated with a 22% lower risk of ischemic heart disease (R).

An increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, nuts, and vegetables has been estimated to lower the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 28% (R).

My personal preference is to skip the lectins and take magnesium supplements and eat veggies.

Self-reported magnesium intake was inversely associated with hardening of the arteries (calcification), which may play a contributing role in magnesium’s protective associations in stroke and fatal heart disease (R).

5) Magnesium Lowers the Risk of Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Low magnesium levels play a role in the development of insulin resistance (R).

Nondiabetic patients with low serum magnesium are significantly more likely to have insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and elevated insulin levels compared to patients with higher magnesium levels (R).

Low magnesium has been implicated in the cause of liver disease, especially non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Both conditions are strongly associated with insulin resistance, as well as obesity, type 2 diabetes, elevated fat levels and high blood pressure (R).

Magnesium was inversely associated with metabolic syndrome (R), and oral magnesium supplementation improved the metabolic profile and lowered blood pressure of metabolically obese and normal-weight individuals (R).

In the study, blood pressure, insulin resistance, fasting glucose and triglyceride levels all decreased significantly in the subjects who received Magnesium chloride compared with individuals who didn’t (R).

Lower magnesium intake was associated with higher risk of diabetes in the Taiwanese population (R).

Greater magnesium intake was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic abnormalities (R).

Increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, and green leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (R).

Evidence suggests that insulin sensitivity, elevated blood sugar, type 2 diabetes and elevated fat content in the blood can be improved with increased magnesium intake (R).

6) Magnesium is Beneficial for Nerve and Brain Function


Elevation of brain magnesium can enhance learning and prevent overgeneralization of fear in rats (R).

Magnesium supplements have been shown to significantly improve functional recovery in various neurological disorders (R).

Magnesium supplements improved neurobehavioral, electrophysiological functions, enhanced nerve regeneration, and reduced inflammation in mice (R).

7) Magnesium Relieves Headaches and Migraines


Magnesium deficiency can lead to brain artery spasm and increased release of pain substances (such as substance P) (R).

Significantly lowered serum magnesium levels have been seen in migraine and tension headache sufferers (R).

A high dose (600 mg) of oral magnesium daily for 12 weeks significantly reduced the frequency of headaches by 41.6%, and also reduced the severity, drug usage and duration of the acute attacks (R).

Intravenous magnesium sulphate to acute migraine sufferers with a known low serum magnesium level lead to remission of the attack (R).

Magnesium supplements, along with routine treatment, significantly improved all migraine indicators (R).

8) Magnesium Relieves Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Stress hormones, including both catecholamines and corticoids, can cause a reduction in tissue magnesium levels (R).

Many of the symptoms and findings in chronic fatigue syndrome resemble those of magnesium deficiency (R).

A referral center that evaluated several hundred chronic fatigue syndrome patients observed that half of their patients were magnesium-deficient (R).

Chronic fatigue syndrome patients who are magnesium deficient benefit from injection of 580 mg magnesium (R).

9) Magnesium Reduces Anxiety and OCD

Magnesium supplementation is effective at treating anxiety and anxiety-related disorders when used in combination with other vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts (R).

Magnesium helps suppress the HPA axis (CRH, ACTH, Cortisol) (R).

Magnesium relieved premenstrual anxiety in women, when taken together with B6 (R).

Partial magnesium-depletion increased anxiety-related behavior in mice (R).

Patients with OCD were found to have lower magnesium (R).

Magnesium’s anti-anxiety role is mediate in large part by its ability to block NMDA receptors (R).

10) Magnesium Reduces Depression


Magnesium plays a role in many of the pathways involved in depression and is found in several enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters (R).

Mice consuming a diet with very low magnesium content—consisting of only 10% of the daily requirement—showed depressive behavior (R).

Low magnesium status has been associated with increased depressive symptoms in several different age groups and ethnic populations (R).

Major and suicidal depression particularly seems to be related with magnesium insufficiency (R).

Magnesium supplementation has been linked to improvements in symptoms of major depression, premenstrual symptoms, postpartum depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome (R).

Administration of magnesium sulfate to rats subjected to traumatic brain injury significantly decreased both incidence of post-traumatic depression and its severity (R).

Co-treatment of magnesium salts and antidepressants from different classes (i.e., fluoxetine, imipramine and bupropion) resulted in the synergistic antidepressant-like effect (R).

Case studies of magnesium supplementation reported improvements in depression, anxiety, and sleep within one week (R).

Surprisingly, in one study, low magnesium intake in older adults seemed to protect from depression (R).

11) Magnesium May be Beneficial in ADHD


Reduced serum levels of magnesium were found in patients with ADHD (R).

Psychostimulants increased serum magnesium levels in ADHD after 3 weeks of treatment (R).

Magnesium supplementation may be beneficial in treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (R).

12) Magnesium is Beneficial for Skin Allergies


Magnesium deficiency impairs immunity (R).

Topical and oral administration of magnesium salts had beneficial effects in patients with skin allergy (R).

13) Magnesium Decreases Inflammation

Magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) exposure before preterm birth is neuroprotective, reducing the risk of cerebral palsy and major motor dysfunction (R).

In pregnant mothers, magnesium sulfate reduced maternal TNF and IL-6 production and substantially reduced the frequency of the baby’s monocytes producing TNF-α and IL-6under stimulated conditions (R).

Magnesium plays a critical regulatory role in Nf-kB activation (R).

The immunomodulatory effect was mediated by magnesium rather than sulfate, and it was reversible (R).

14) Magnesium May Slow Aging


Several pieces of evidence link low Magnesium to aging and age-related diseases (R).

Studies have shown that cultures in low magnesium (Mg) accelerates the death of human endothelial cells and fibroblasts (R).

Magnesium inadequacy interferes with cellular metabolism, which could affect this process (R).

15-16) Magnesium is Critical For The Mitochondria and Antioxidant Function

Magnesium in the mitochondria accounts for one-third of total cellular magnesium (R).

Magnesium forms a complex with ATP (R), which is an important source of stored energy.

A large portion of the energy used in humans is produced by mitochondria through the movement of electrons over the respiratory chain (R).

Magnesium is critical for basic mitochondrial functions, including ATP synthesis, electron transport chain complex subunits, and oxygen detoxification (R).

Inadequate availability of magnesium may lead to reduced mitochondrial efficiency and increased production of reactive oxygen species with consequent structural and functional impairment to proteins (R), DNA, and other essential molecules (R).

 Studies of magnesium-deficient cultured human cells and animals show evidence of decreased antioxidant capacity (R, R2), and mitochondrial swelling in magnesium-deficient animals (R).

Hence, magnesium seems fundamental for the control of oxidative stress and to maintain the normal function of mitochondria.

17) Magnesium Prevents Cancer

Magnesium deficiency, through exacerbating chronic inflammatory stress, may play a role in the onset of cancer (R).

Middle-aged men with higher serum magnesium concentrations had a 50% lower risk of cancer death than those with low serum magnesium (R).

Magnesium intake may be beneficial in terms of primary prevention of pancreatic cancer. Every 100 mg per day reduction in magnesium intake was associated with a 24% increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer (R).

18) Magnesium is Beneficial in Pregnancy

Gestational magnesium deficiency may cause developmental defects (R).

Magnesium supplementation resulted in lower incidence of newborn jaundice and newborn hospitalization (R), and reduced the risk of low birth weight (R).

Women receiving magnesium were significantly less likely to require hospitalization during pregnancy (R).

Magnesium supplementation among women with pregnancy-induced diabetes had beneficial effects on metabolic status and pregnancy outcomes (R).

Transfer of large amounts of magnesium from mother’s blood to fetus with other nutrients may contribute to occurrence of post-pregnancy depression (by causing magnesium deficiency in the mother) (R).

19) Magnesium May Relieve Pancreatitis

Nutritional magnesium deficiency increases the susceptibility of the pancreas towards disease, by elevating calcium concentrations. Elevated calcium is an established risk factor for pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis) (R).

Magnesium administration reduced pancreatic enzyme activities, tissue swelling and death, and inflammation during pancreatitis in rats (R).

20) Magnesium Protects From Kidney Function Decline

Low magnesium is associated with increased risk of dying and kidney function decline in chronic kidney disease patients as well as mortality in dialysis patients (R).

Cisplatin, a commonly used chemotherapeutic for ovarian and other cancers, reduces magnesium levels in most patients and causes acute kidney injury in 25-30% of patients.

Magnesium supplementation during cisplatin treatment protects against cisplatin-mediated acute kidney injury in mice (R).

Additionally, magnesium supplement therapy was significantly associated with both reduced frequency and reduced severity of kidney toxicity in patients receiving cisplatin (R).

21) Magnesium Prevents Hearing Loss

Magnesium intake acts synergistically with antioxidants to prevent hearing loss (R).

Drawbacks of Magnesium

Chronic high dietary magnesium exposure causes potential thyroid disruption in rats and humans (R).

Magnesium can also cause lose stools and “make you go”.

Sources of Magnesium

Major food sources containing magnesium are leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes (especially soya), nuts (almonds, cashews), whole grains, red meat and seafood (R,R).

Consumption of these foods can easily elevate magnesium levels (R).

Magnesium-containing supplements are generally well-tolerated with very few reported side effects (R). Side effects include gastrointestinal upset such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in some people (R).

Magnesium supplementation provides quick results. Case studies of magnesium supplementation reported improvements in depression, anxiety, and sleep within one week (R).

Bioavailability and Dosing

Not all supplements of magnesium are readily absorbed (R).

Organic forms of magnesium like aspartate, citrate, lactate, fumurate, acetate, ascorbate and gluconate have greater solubility and bioavailability in comparison to inorganic forms like oxide, sulphate, chloride and carbonate (R).

A magnesium chelate such as magnesium citrate is considered safe for doses up to 600 mg per day in adults (R).

Evaluation of both circulating and dietary magnesium is important, because circulating magnesium reflects not only diet but also gastrointestinal absorption and renal regulation (R)

High doses (>10mg/kg/d) of magnesium can be toxic (R).


In patients with chronic renal failure or in individuals undergoing dialysis, serum magnesium concentrations are frequently elevated and correlate with mineralization defects (R).

Chronic high dietary magnesium exposure causes potential thyroid disruption (R).

Magnesium on SelfDecode

Buying Magnesium

Different forms of magnesium have different effects.

I personally take the magnesium that has butyrate, because I like the butyrate.

The ionic mineral forms are good, if you can stomach the taste.

The citrate form is the standard, well absorbed variety.

The magnesium Calm is the best when taken if you want to go to sleep, because it makes you tired.

The magnesium glycinate is good if you’re looking for some more glycine.

The magnesium lactate is good if you’re looking for more lactate.

The epsom salt bath is good because it’s not passing through the gut, so you can probably get in more magnesium before you have loose stools.  The downside is preparing the bath!

Magnesium cream/oil is good because the slower absorption, but the issue I’ve found with the creams are that they itch and they make a mess.

The threonate version is better for cognitive enhancement, according to one study.

If you want extra malate, then go with magnesium malate.  Malate is a good chelator and also good for energy production.


  1. According to Jonathan Wright, there is a cellular-tissue entrainment mechanisms for “enduring” chronic magnesium deficiency. Given the low level of magnesium in the general population, this mechanism may be active more of the time than not. He suggests that this mechanism is why people can aggravate a cellular magnesium deficiency by supplementing magnesium to excess. In other words, once the cell and tissue have entrained to a low level of magnesium, elevations of tissue magnesium are “resisted” by homeostatic mechanisms and the cell defends its lower-than-ideal magnesium level. Wright suggests that the solution to this condition is to override the entrainment with a series of IV pushes of roughly 3 grams of magnesium per treatment. This is enough to overcome the entrainment without causing magnesium toxicity, which resets the cellular-tissue dynamic and restores the “normal” use of magnesium.

    I also find it interesting that the subjective experience of people undergoing magnesium pushes is body heating. In fact, this is the limiting factor for how fast the magnesium can be pushed. Giving the individual patients the syringe and control of the push seems to increase the speed at which they can tolerate the push. But this reminds me of the heating effect from Emanuel Revici’s catabolic-aerobic-acidifying selenium and magnesium thiosulfate therapies. Perhaps there is a non-magnesium-regulating metabolic mechanism that is also involved in the magnesium entrainment phenomenon?

  2. MachineGhost

    Be aware that glycinate and bisglycinate are essentially the same thing and also have undisclosed magnesium oxide as a buffer. Albion and several manufacturer’s are currently under a class action lawsuit over this. Since they’re sold at a premium and the oxide is undisclosed… Doctor’s Best does sell the unbuffered glycinate form but fair warning that it may give you incredibly painful gut cramps.

    There’s also aspartate (ZMA) and asporotate (Solaray) forms. The oxide and citrate forms are what causes diarrhea. What is “best” usually comes down to bioavailable cost vs density which is more of an issue with capsules/tablets than powders.

  3. mr.jeannay

    Another possible drawback: after supplementing 400mg of magnesium daily nonstop for 2 years i started to develop allergies against magnesium(sneezing multiple times) , yes im serious. Now when i eat high magnesium foods (red beets, pumpkin seeds,..) i also feel like total crap afterwards. The sources of magnesium in my supplement were magnesiumHydroxid , magnesiumcarbonat , magnesiumacetat

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