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Magnesium is essential for our body in many different ways. From the production of energy, and proteins, to acting as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, bone structures, and nerve conduction.

It is estimated that more than half of Americans are magnesium deficient and nearly two third of the Western population do not get enough Magnesium from their diet.

Symptoms of low magnesium

Most people do not get any symptoms from low magnesium. Some of them might feel a lack of energy, appetite, fatigue, weakness, pins and needles sensation, and muscle spasms.

More and more research has proven that low magnesium levels are associated with many medical problems, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, kidney stones, and dementia.

Foods rich in Magnesium

Sesame seed, chia seed, pumpkin seed

Almond, cashew, peanut



Kidney beans

What can cause low magnesium

Inadequate intake is the most common

Increase loss- as in vomiting diarrhea ea, sweating

Impaired absorption – Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, bypass surgery

Increase demand – pregnancy, a young child during growth

Should I take magnesium supplements?

Despite so much evidence around low magnesium and several health conditions, no actual clinical guidelines advocate the regular use of magnesium supplements as an additional therapy.

Some forms of magnesium are used in severe asthmatic attacks and severe hypertension in pregnancy called pre-eclampsia.

Benefits of Magnesium – What does the research show?

Bone health

Magnesium is required to convert vitamin D to its active form which helps the absorption of calcium for bone.

A two-year-long study with Mg Hydroxide showed less fracture and a significant increase in bone mass.

However, an extremely high Mg level is also associated with an increased risk of bone fracture.


Magnesium deficiency is common in pregnancy mainly due to the increased requirement by the growing fetus.

In early pregnancy, before the 25th week of gestation, the scientist gave magnesium to pregnant women and found them to have a lower incidence of preterm birth, and low birth weight.

In a later stage, Mg is used as a treatment for severe hypertension called pre-eclampsia.

Migraine headache

Oral Mg supplement compared with placebo showed a reduction in frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines by 41 % and in placebo, 15%.


A recent analysis of double-blinded randomized controlled trials showed Mg supplement improved glucose parameters and improved insulin sensitivity.

Low Mg level is also found to be related to higher triglycerides, waist circumference, body fat %, and BMI.


It is a well-known fact that 50% of adults struggle with sleep. 

Mg regulates melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles in the body.

It also regulates brain activity by binding to the GABA receptor, which is responsible for slowing down nerve activity. Some e sleeping medications are targeted at GABA receptors.

It also enhances parasympathetic, which is the opposite of sympathetic, and helps slow down, calm, relaxed relax.

Despite all the theory and research and findings, Mg is still not the first option in clinical guidelines.


Although Mg helps calm and slow down the nerve, it is also found to be beneficial in depression.

It acts as a coenzyme in converting tryptophan to serotonin, which is used in major anti-depressants such as citalopram, and fluoxetine.


Mg is probably the one mineral with the longest list of benefits. It would even look like I am trying to promote the Mg but all of the facts written are based on reputable research and meta-analysis findings. 

However, these findings are relatively new as compared to vitamin D and other vitamins which could be the main reason the Mg supplement is not mentioned in actual clinical guidelines.

My personal opinion is, some of the findings will eventually be contradicted as the research goes on which is what usually happens when something new and promising happens then the hype dies out.

Despite this, there are still so many benefits associated with Mg, and would be not surprising to see new guidelines involving Mg in clinical practice.

Research Articles

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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