Bone tissue contains approximately 60% of the magnesium found in the body. One of the properties of magnesium within the skeletal structure is to help regulate calcium within the bones and teeth. For example, magnesium is needed in order for calcium to be bound to tooth enamel. In addition to an influence on the hormonal processes involved in bone calcium metabolism, magnesium may increase the activity of vitamin D (which, among other things, aids calcium absorption). Although calcium is the most abundant skeletal mineral and the best-known nutrient for maintaining bone density, in recent years the focus on the role of magnesium in bone health has increased considerably. In fact, many experts now feel that magnesium intake is at least as critical to skeletal health as calcium. Research indicates that osteoporotic women have less bone magnesium and that magnesium intake is a significant statistical predictor of bone mineral content.


The influence of magnesium on calcium metabolism and regulation may also be useful in preventing abnormal calcium deposition in soft tissues such as the kidneys. For example, in a study of 55 patients with recurrent kidney stones, less than 15% of those taking magnesium formed new stones over a 2-4 year treatment period (compared to 59% in the control group). In the treatment group, there was also a 90% reduction in the average rate of stone development compared with the period prior to treatment. From the standpoint of public health, reducing calcium deposition in the arteries would be especially significant, as arterial calcification can be a major factor in the development of atherosclerosis (and thus, heart disease) [see cardiovascular health and function below],


Like calcium, magnesium is essential for the proper function of muscles. In particular, magnesium is needed for the relaxation phase of muscle function, while the mineral calcium facilitates the contraction phase. Magnesium’s action as a muscle relaxant to a great extent relates to its ability to block smooth muscle uptake of calcium. Magnesium also affects muscular function through its influence on neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the nervous system. The properties of this mineral not only maintain normal function, but can also be preventive and/or therapeutic in the case of muscle dysfunction. For example, in a study on pregnant women suffering with muscle cramps, 90% were symptom-free after one month of magnesium supplementation (as opposed to 33% of the control group). Especially important is the influence of magnesium on the smooth muscle tissue of the vascular system, which has many clinically proven benefits in cardiovascular health (see cardiovascular health and function below).


Magnesium is an essential coenzyme within many enzyme systems, and is involved in hundreds of catalytic reactions within the body. It is particularly critical to energy production, and not surprisingly, magnesium deficiency is a common feature in general fatigue and fatigue-related disorders such as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome). Magnesium supplementation is clinically proven to significantly improve fatigue symptoms in ME sufferers; the fact that this research administered the mineral as an intramuscular injection does not rule out a potential value to oral supplementation in fatigue-related disorders. Magnesium is also critical to the metabolism of carbohydrates, and is needed for the both the synthesis and secretion of the hormone insulin (which facilitates the cellular metabolism of glucose in the blood). More often than not, diabetics are deficient in magnesium. There is strong justification to magnesium supplementation in diabetes, not only because it may improve glucose tolerance, but also because it may reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease and retinopathy. As a coenzyme, magnesium is also needed for DNA replication within cells.


Several studies highlight the importance of magnesium in the prevention and/or treatment of i heart and vascular disorders. Magnesium deficiency is a common feature of conditions such a arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, mitral va prolapse and peripheral vascular disease. For example, a 1990 study compared survival rates with congestive heart failure patients based on their magnesium status. The one-year survival those with low magnesium levels were 37% lower than those with normal magnesium status, years, survival rates were 32% lower in the low magnesium group. Evidence suggests that supplementation can also be preventive and/or therapeutic; examples of conditions where thi: case include high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, angina, arrhythmia, congestive heart failn valve prolapse, peripheral vascular disease and heart attack. Many of the benefits of magnesi cardiovascular disease relate to its role in vascular smooth muscle function. Magnesium facili relaxation phase of vascular muscle function, at least in part by blocking the smooth muscle calcium (calcium facilitates the contraction of smooth muscle). This action bears a strong res to the anti-hypertensive calcium channel-blocking drugs, which helps explain one of the mor< significant ways by which magnesium can help lower blood pressure. Magnesium also helps calcium and potassium) to reduce sodium build-up within cells that could otherwise elevate ! pressure. The accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque is a primary trigger for heart disease, d associated reduction of blood flow through the arteries. Through relaxation of the arterial si muscle, magnesium facilitates dilation of the arteries, allowing a greater blood flow and redi pressure on the artery walls. The ability of magnesium to reduce excessive blood clotting, ca of the blood vessels and cholesterol levels should also discourage the accumulation of athero plaque. Through its enzymatic influence (see energy metabolism and enzyme function bel magnesium increases the production of energy within the heart muscle, thus contributing to of the heart and its ability to pump blood throughout the body.


Research confirms that magnesium deficiency can severely impair hormone balance in wom< undoubtedly a causal factor in many cases of premenstrual tension (PMT). The issue of mag status in PMT has been the source of controversy; studies suggest that there is no clear asso< between low blood plasma levels of magnesium and incidence of PMT, however sufferers of significantly lower levels of magnesium in red and mononuclear blood cells. Unfortunately, i clinicians who test for nutritional deficiencies in their PMT patients are more likely to carry testing, and thus may be misled into assuming that magnesium supplementation is not relev patients. The truth is that magnesium supplementation is dramatically effective in relieving i symptoms of PMT. For example, a 1984 study demonstrated that supplementation reduced breast irritation in 96% of the women, weight gain in 95% and nervous tension in 89%. O research highlights a reduction in premenstrual mood swings. Although there are several bi( influences of magnesium that may account for such benefits, its effect on adrenal hormones particularly significant. For instance, a high level of magnesium is associated with a lower li aldosterone, an adrenal hormone which causes sodium and fluid retention and is linked to ] weight gain and breast pain. Magnesium may also help regulate the activity of stress hormc otherwise can deplete mood-elevating neurotransmitters in the brain.


Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to ensure proper nerve impulse transmission, in an influence on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers of the nervous system). A lack of d magnesium is associated with latent tetany, a condition manifesting in muscle spasms, twite tremors due to hypersensitive nerves. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with lactic a< leading to an imbalance in the ratio between lactic acid and pyruvic acid. A high lactate to ratio is linked to anxiety-related disorder.


Magnesium is required for adrenal health and synthesis of adrenal stress hormones. In this manner, it works along with nutrients such as pantothenic acid, vitamin C, B6 and zinc. Also, magnesium’s above- mentioned effects on nerve and muscular function beneficially influence disorders and symptoms often associated with stress response (i.e. anxiety, nervous tension, muscle spasms/ twitches, hypertension, etc.).


Magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve certain pain-related disorders such as migraine and tension headaches and fibromyalgia (which manifests with symptoms such as joint and muscle aches and pains). In the case of migraines, most of the benefit from magnesium appears to be linked to its role in vascular muscle function, nerve-relaxation and proper mitral valve function. The heart’s mitral valve prevents backflow or leakage of oxygenated blood within the heart, and a prolapse of this valve leads to abnormalities in the pumping of blood as well as causing the release of compounds that precipatate and expansion of the cranial blood vessels. Migraines may be triggered by this vascular expansion; in fact, research suggests that there is twice the rate of mitral valve prolapse in migraine sufferers compared to non-sufferers. Chronic magnesium deficiency exists in 85% of those with mitral valve prolapse, and not surprisingly, migraine sufferers typically have lower blood magnesium levels than non-sufferers.

Potential Applications

•        Cardiovascular health (general)

•        High blood pressure

•        Angina

•        Heart arrhythmia

•        Congestive heart failure

•        Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

•        Cardiomyopathy

•        Peripheral vascular disease (i.e. intermittent claudication)

•        Cerebrovascular disease (i.e. stroke)

•        Mitral valve prolapse

•        Migraine headaches

•        Fibromyalgia

•        Skeletal health (general)

•        Osteoporosis (in combination with calcium)

•        Muscular health and function (general)

•        Muscle stiffness, cramps, spasms, twitches or tremors

•        Premenstrual tension (PMT)

•        Menstrual cramps and period pain

•        Asthma/bronchial constriction

•        Kidney stones

•        Fatigue

•        ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome)

•        Poor stress tolerance

•        Diabetes

•        Nerve health and function (general)

•       Anxiety

EC RDA (adults)

•        300mg

Common Supplement Forms/Sources

•        Magnesium oxide

•        Magnesium chloride

•        Magnesium carbonate

•        Magnesium citrate

•        Magnesium gluconate

•        Magnesium glycinate

•        Magnesium amino acid chelate

•        Magnesium aspartate

Common Food Sources

  • Brown seaweed (kelp, dulse)
  • Nuts
  • Buckwheat
  • Whole wheat
  • Millet
  • Rye
  • Brown rice
  • Soybeans
  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Dried figs
  • Dates
  • Shrimp

Contraindications/Cautions/lnteractions/Toxicity Concerns

Moderate to high doses of magnesium may cause loose stools, especially if taken in the fc Epsom salts, magnesium chloride or magnesium hydroxide.

Patients with atrioventricular blockage or other severe forms of heart disease should not magnesium supplements unless on the advice and under the strict monitoring of a physici Patients with kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements unless on the advic under the strict monitoring of a physician.

Patients taking drugs for cardiovascular disease or heart defects should not take magnesi supplements unless on the advice and under the strict monitoring of a physician. Patients taking the drugs wafarin or tetracycline should not take magnesium supplement; the advice and under the strict monitoring of a physician.

Because very high intakes of magnesium can reduce the absorption of calcium (and vice ‘ normally recommended that these minerals should be taken together when used in highe (unless otherwise directed by a qualified healthcare practitioner).

Possible Signs/Symptoms Associated with Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney stones
  • Muscle stiffness, cramps, twit
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Latent tetany
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Tension headaches
  • Poor stress tolerance
  • Fibromyalgia

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