Magnesium is super important for so many issues. It’s one of the basic supplements that almost everyone should take. Magnesium benefits include reducing anxiety, improving physical performance and improving bone health. Read more to learn about the various health benefits of Magnesium.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in our body [1]. It is essential to all living cells, and vital for numerous physiological functions [2].

Magnesium is required for the production of ATP (the main source of energy in our cells) [3], and the production of DNA, RNA, and proteins [4].

Magnesium plays an important role in cell-to-cell communication [5].

Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium to function properly [3].

Because of its positive charge, magnesium stabilizes the cellular cover (membranes) [2].

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

Magnesium is important for:

  • bone health [6]
  • muscle contraction and relaxation [5, 7]
  • heart rhythm and blood pressure [6]
  • stabilizing blood glucose levels, and regulating sugar and fat metabolisms [6, 8]
  • neurotransmitter production and regulation [5]
  • neural function [6]
  • the immune system [6]



  • 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
  • Helps with sleep
  • 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

Health Benefits

1) Can Improve Physical Performance

Magnesium is required for proper muscle function, both at rest and during exercise [9].

Magnesium deficiency can impair exercise capacity and reduce physical performance [10].

Magnesium depletion is associated with increased inflammation, muscle cell alterations, and impaired calcium balance in the cells [10].

Magnesium supplements had a positive impact on performance in resistance exercise [9] and improved performance in volleyball players, even though the players were not magnesium-deficient [11].

Other studies failed to find improvements in muscle strength and function [12].

Generally, magnesium supplements have a greater effect when dietary intake or blood levels are low [9].

Magnesium supplements prevent or delay an age-related decline in physical performance [10].

Daily magnesium oxide supplementation for 12 weeks improved physical performance in healthy elderly women [10].

2) Maintains Bone Integrity

Lower magnesium intake is associated with lower bone mineral density and promotes osteoporosis [2].

In postmenopausal women, low magnesium intake has been correlated with more rapid bone loss or lower bone mineral density [13]. Magnesium supplementation was beneficial in osteoporotic women [14].

On the other hand, elevated magnesium may have a harmful effect on bone metabolism and parathyroid gland function, leading to mineralization defects [15].

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 [13].

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

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 [13].

3) Reduces Blood Pressure

Magnesium supplementation has led to reductions in blood pressure of up to 12 points (mmHg) [9, 16].

Magnesium increases the effectiveness of all drug classes that reduce blood pressure [16] and additionally decreases high blood pressure in patients on blood pressure lowering medications [17].

4) 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.

Low magnesium and experimental restriction of dietary magnesium increase cardiac arrhythmias.

Abnormally low circulating magnesium is a known risk factor for cardiac arrest [18, 19].

Increase in circulating magnesium was associated with a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, while dietary magnesium was associated with a 22% lower risk of ischemic heart disease.

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% [20].

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 [21].

5) Lowers the Risk of Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

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

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 [22].

Magnesium was inversely associated with metabolic syndrome [23], and oral magnesium supplementation improved the metabolic profile and lowered the blood pressure of metabolically obese and normal-weight individuals [24].

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 [24].

Lower magnesium intake was associated with a higher risk of diabetes in the Taiwanese population [25].

Greater magnesium intake was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic abnormalities [26].

Increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, and green leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes [27].

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 [16].

6) Is Beneficial for Nerve and Brain Function

Elevation of brain magnesium can enhance learning and prevent overgeneralization of fear in rats [28].

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

Magnesium supplements improved neurobehavioral, electrophysiological functions, enhanced nerve regeneration and reduced inflammation in mice [29].

7) Relieves Headaches and Migraines

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

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

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 [5].

Intravenous magnesium sulfate in acute migraine sufferers with a known low serum magnesium level leads to remission of the attack.

Magnesium supplements, along with routine treatment, significantly improved all migraine indicators [30].

8) Relieves Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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

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

A referral center that evaluated several hundred chronic fatigue syndrome patients observed that half of their patients were magnesium-deficient [31].

Chronic fatigue syndrome patients who are magnesium deficient benefit from an injection of 580 mg magnesium [31, 32].

9) Reduces Anxiety and OCD

Magnesium supplementation is effective in treating anxiety and anxiety-related disorders when used in combination with other vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts [33].

Magnesium helps suppress the HPA axis (CRH, ACTH, Cortisol) [34].

Magnesium relieved premenstrual anxiety in women, when taken together with B6 [33].

Partial magnesium-depletion increased anxiety-related behavior in mice [35].

Patients with OCD were found to have lower magnesium [36].

Magnesium’s anti-anxiety role is mediated in large part by its ability to block NMDA receptors [34].

10) Reduces Depression

Magnesium plays a role in many of the pathways involved in depression and is found in several enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters [37].

Mice consuming a diet with very low magnesium content-consisting of only 10% of the daily requirement-showed depressive behavior [35].

Low magnesium status has been associated with increased depressive symptoms in several different age groups and ethnic populations [37].

Major and suicidal depression particularly seems to be related to magnesium insufficiency [38].

Magnesium supplementation has been linked to improvements in symptoms of major depression, premenstrual symptoms, postpartum depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome [37].

Administration of magnesium sulfate to rats subjected to traumatic brain injury significantly decreased both incidences of post-traumatic depression and its severity [38].

Co-treatment of magnesium salts and antidepressants from different classes (i.e., fluoxetine, imipramine, and bupropion) resulted in the synergistic antidepressant-like effect [38].

Case studies of magnesium supplementation reported improvements in depression, anxiety, and sleep within one week. Surprisingly, in one study, low magnesium intake in older adults seemed to protect from depression [37].

11) May be Beneficial in ADHD

Reduced serum levels of magnesium were found in patients with ADHD. Psychostimulants increased serum magnesium levels in ADHD after 3 weeks of treatment [39].

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

12) Is Beneficial for Skin Allergies

Magnesium deficiency impairs immunity. Topical and oral administration of magnesium salts had beneficial effects in patients with skin allergy [40].

13) Decreases Inflammation

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

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-6 under stimulated conditions [41].

Magnesium plays a critical regulatory role in Nf-kB activation [42].

The immunomodulatory effect was mediated by magnesium rather than sulfate, and it was reversible [41].

14) May Slow Aging

Several pieces of evidence link low Magnesium to aging and age-related diseases. Studies have shown that cultures in low magnesium (Mg) accelerates the death of human endothelial cells and fibroblasts [43].
Magnesium inadequacy interferes with cellular metabolism, which could affect this process.

15-16) Is Critical For The Mitochondria and Antioxidant Function

Magnesium in the mitochondria accounts for one-third of total cellular magnesium [44]. Magnesium forms a complex with ATP, 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.

Magnesium is critical for basic mitochondrial functions, including ATP synthesis, electron transport chain complex subunits, and oxygen detoxification [45].

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, DNA, and other essential molecules.

Studies of magnesium-deficient cultured human cells and animals show evidence of decreased antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial swelling in magnesium-deficient animals [46].

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

17) Prevents Cancer

Magnesium deficiency, by exacerbating chronic inflammatory stress, may play a role in the onset of cancer.

Middle-aged men with higher serum magnesium concentrations had a 50% lower risk of cancer death than those with low serum magnesium [4].

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 [47].

18) Is Beneficial in Pregnancy

Gestational magnesium deficiency may cause developmental defects [48].

Magnesium supplementation resulted in a lower incidence of newborn jaundice and newborn hospitalization [49] and reduced the risk of low birth weight [48].

Women receiving magnesium were significantly less likely to require hospitalization during pregnancy [50].

Magnesium supplementation among women with pregnancy-induced diabetes had beneficial effects on metabolic status and pregnancy outcomes [49].

Transfer of large amounts of magnesium from mother’s blood to the fetus with other nutrients may contribute to the occurrence of post-pregnancy depression (by causing magnesium deficiency in the mother) [38].

19) 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).

Magnesium administration reduced pancreatic enzyme activities, tissue swelling and death, and inflammation during pancreatitis in rats [51].

20) Protects From Kidney Function Decline

Low magnesium is associated with increased risk of death and kidney function decline in chronic kidney disease patients as well as mortality in dialysis patients [3].

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 [52].

Additionally, magnesium supplement therapy was significantly associated with both reduced frequency and reduced severity of kidney toxicity in patients receiving cisplatin [53].

21) Prevents Hearing Loss

Magnesium intake acts synergistically with antioxidants to prevent hearing loss [54].

Magnesium Deficiency

Low consumption of magnesium is common throughout the world [1].

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) [20].

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).

Acute emotional stress and stressful activities increase magnesium excretion/loss [38].

Magnesium excretion increases while absorption decreases with age, because of various chronic diseases and decreased intake of foods high in magnesium [37].

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 [10].

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 [38].

Severe dietary magnesium restriction has a detrimental effect on metabolism, glucose balance, and retention and excretion of other minerals [20].

Are You Magnesium Deficient?

You can request from your doctor to test your magnesium. But conventional doctors will look at high or low magnesium levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as an optimal range. This is why magnesium even in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal.

Drawbacks and Side Effects, Sources, and Bioavailability

Chronic high dietary magnesium exposure causes potential thyroid disruption in rats and humans [55].

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

In patients with chronic renal failure or in individuals undergoing dialysis, serum magnesium concentrations are frequently elevated and correlate with mineralization defects [2].

Chronic high dietary magnesium exposure causes potential thyroid disruption [55].

Magnesium can sometimes potentially increase GSK3b, a problematic protein, but this can be inhibited by lithium [56].


Major food sources containing magnesium are leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes (especially soy), nuts (almonds, cashews), whole grains, red meat and seafood [5, 4].

Consumption of these foods can easily elevate magnesium levels [37].

Magnesium-containing supplements are generally well-tolerated with very few reported side effects [33]. Side effects include gastrointestinal upset such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in some people [37].

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

Bioavailability and Dosing

Not all supplements of magnesium are readily absorbed [5].

Organic forms of magnesium like aspartate, citrate, lactate, fumarate, acetate, ascorbate and gluconate have greater solubility and bioavailability in comparison to inorganic forms like oxide, sulfate, chloride, and carbonate [9].

A magnesium chelate such as magnesium citrate is considered safe for doses up to 600 mg per day in adults [5].

Evaluation of both circulating and dietary magnesium is important because circulating magnesium reflects not only diet but also gastrointestinal absorption and renal regulation [20].

High doses (>10mg/kg/d) of magnesium can be toxic [39].

Irregular Magnesium Levels?

LabTestAnalyzer helps you make sense of your lab results. It informs you which labs are not in the optimal range and gives you guidance about how to get them to optimal. It also allows you to track your labs over time. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your lab tests.


Different forms of magnesium have different effects. The worst form is magnesium oxide.

The magnesium glycinate, citrate, malate, butyrate or lactate varieties are all fine.

The Epsom salt bath is good because the magnesium doesn’t pass through the gut, so you can probably get more magnesium before you have loose stools. The downside is preparing the bath!

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

Magnesium calm helps you fall asleep.

Want Better Ways to Improve Your Mood?

If you’re interested in natural and targeted ways of improving your mood, we recommend checking out SelfDecode’s Mood DNA Wellness Report. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help improve your mood. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

This post contains links from our sister companies, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer as well as sponsored links, which means that we may receive a small percentage of profit from your purchase, while the price remains the same to you. The proceeds from your purchase of these products are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Biljana Novkovic - PHD (ECOLOGICAL GENETICS) - Writer at Selfhacked

Dr. Biljana Novkovic, PhD

PhD (Ecological Genetics)

Biljana received her PhD from Hokkaido University.

Before joining SelfHacked, she was a research scientist with extensive field and laboratory experience. She spent 4 years reviewing the scientific literature on supplements, lab tests and other areas of health sciences. She is passionate about releasing the most accurate science & health information available on topics, and she's meticulous when writing and reviewing articles to make sure the science is sound. She believes that SelfHacked has the best science that is also layperson-friendly on the web.

Click here to subscribe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(19 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.