Magnesium 101


Magnesium (Mg2+) is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Historically it was naturally present in many foods, but as we mentioned in this article, it has been depleted from our soil and thus our foods.

Magnesium is a cofactor of many enzymes. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. The following is a more extensive list of the benefits and risks of magnesium.

Hypomagnesaemia occurs because of decreased gastrointestinal absorption or increased renal Magnesium excretion and is associated with a wide spectrum of diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, tetany, seizures and depression.

While Magnesium can be stored in muscle fibres, where it plays an important role in the regulation of muscle contraction by antagonizing the action of Ca2+, bone tissue is the largest Magnesium store in the human body, where it also contributes to the density and strength of the skeleton. Depletion of Magnesium is, therefore, a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Key Benefits of Magnesium:(1)

  • Essential for every cell in the body.
  • Essential for both producing, storing and using ATP energy.
  • Essential for mitigating oxidative stress.
  • Essential for creating new proteins from amino acids.
  • Helps to create and repaid DNA and RNA
  • Thousands (3751 at least) of enzymes that operate essential functions for life require magnesium.
  • Aids in muscle contraction and relaxation.
  • Essential for nervous system regulation.
  • Essential for calcium homeostasis.
  • Boosts exercise performance.
  • Combats depression & anxiety.
  • Support health blood sugar levels and protects against diabetes.
  • Lowers inflammation.
  • Improve PMS symptoms.
  • Improve bone health.
  • Mitigate risks of osteoporosis.
  • Supports better sleep.
  • Relieves Insomnia.
  • Improves emotional regulation.
  • Reduces high blood pressure.
  • Improves digesting and alleviates constipation symptoms.
  • Migraine relief.

Key Risks of Magnesium:(2)

  • Magnesium supplements can cause nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Magnesium supplements often cause softening of stool.
  • Magnesium supplements may interact with certain medicines, including diuretics, heart medicines, or antibiotics. Check with your health care provider if you are taking any medicine before taking magnesium.
  • People with diabetes, intestinal disease, heart disease or kidney disease should not take magnesium before speaking with their health care provider.
  • Signs of a magnesium overdose can include nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and fatigue.
  • At very high doses, magnesium can be fatal. Overall, the risk of ever experiencing a magnesium overdose is extremely low for a typically healthy person. Still, it’s possible to have too much in certain cases. What this dose is is not 100% certain, but it was considered that the lethal dose level would need to be higher than 1200 mg/kg(200 mg/kg/hr).

What you need to know about Magnesium – Mg:(3)

An average adult body contains approximately 25 g magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones and most of the rest in soft tissues. Less than 1% of total magnesium is in blood serum, and these levels are kept under tight control. Normal serum magnesium concentrations range between 0.75 and 0.95 millimoles (mmol)/L [1,5]. Hypomagnesemia is defined as a serum magnesium level less than 0.75 mmol/L.

Assessing magnesium status is difficult because most magnesium is inside cells or in bone. The most commonly used and readily available method for assessing magnesium status is measurement of serum magnesium concentration, even though serum levels have little correlation with total body magnesium levels or concentrations in specific tissues. Other methods for assessing magnesium status include measuring magnesium concentrations in erythrocytes, saliva, and urine; measuring ionized magnesium concentrations in blood, plasma, or serum; and conducting a magnesium-loading (or “tolerance”) test. No single method is considered satisfactory.

How the body absorbs and regulates magnesium: (4)

Magnesium is absorbed orally at about 30% bioavailability from any water soluble salt form, such as magnesium chloride or magnesium citrate. Some magnesium’s such as glycinate has a bioavailability 4 times greater than the oxide form and are equivalent to each other per amount of magnesium.

Intravenous or intramuscular magnesium is generally in the form of magnesium sulfate solution. Intravenous or intramuscular magnesium is completely bioavailable, and effective. It is used in severe hypomagnesemia and eclampsia.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant cation in the body. Thus, magnesium homeostasis needs to be tightly regulated, and this is facilitated by intestinal absorption and renal excretion. Magnesium homeostasis is maintained through normal functions of the kidney, intestine, and bone. In the kidney, approximately 80% magnesium is filtered by the glomeruli.

Approximately 2400 mg of Magnesium is filtered daily by the glomeruli. Along the nephron, 90–95% of Magnesium is retrieved; the remaining 100 mg leaves the body via the urine.

Magnesium homeostasis depends on its uptake in the intestine, storage in bone tissue and its excretion by the kidneys. When Magnesium intake is low, its absorption can rise from 30 to 50% of dietary Magnesium to ∼80%.

While topical applications may be beneficial, current data points to oral absorption to be substantially more effective than transdermal magnesium.


    (Piovesan et al, 2012-Sep 07, “The Human ‘Magnesome’: Detecting Magnesium Binding Sites on Human Proteins”. BMC Bioinformatics 13 (Suppl 14): S10)




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