The Benefits of Magnesium

By Viktoriya Zabigaylo & Dr Orest Szczurko

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in over 300 biochemical processes inside of our cells1. One of its main functions is to help produce ATP, which is the main source of energy in the body2. Magnesium is especially important in the physiological function of the brain, heart and skeletal muscles. Research has shown that magnesium helps in the following conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease: magnesium regulates heart rhythm and vascular tone which can help improve blood pressure1,4. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, coronary artery disease, and cardiac related death1,4,5
  • Bone disease: magnesium can improve bone mineral density in osteoporosis and osteopenia4
  • Brain conditions: prevention of migraine headaches can be achieved with optimal levels of magnesium4. Magnesium also improves depression and outcomes in brain injuries and epilepsy5.
  • Magnesium can also help with fibromyalgia, asthma, insomnia, anxiety and stress

99% of magnesium is located in the bones, muscles and soft tissues. The remaining 1% is located in the blood1. Consequently, serum magnesium levels that are tested through the blood are not a good representation of the total storage of magnesium throughout the body1. The body will readily deplete body stores to keep blood levels of magnesium within a very narrow range. This means that if serum magnesium is within the normal laboratory reference range, this does not necessarily mean that magnesium levels are sufficient throughout the rest of the body. As a result, the health impact of magnesium deficiency can be largely underestimated5.

Many people have a magnesium deficiency. This could be due to several reasons such as older age, chronic illnesses, diabetes, medication-induced, or gastrointestinal problems1,4. A common reason is that we do not get enough magnesium through the diet. This is because of increased processing of foods which loses much of the magnesium content, and deficiency of minerals in the soils used for agriculture5.

According to Health Canada, the recommended dietary intake of magnesium for adult males is 420 mg/day and 320 mg/day for adult females3.Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, buckwheat, mineral water and fortified foods4,6. Sometimes magnesium supplementation is necessary for more specific conditions. There are different forms of magnesium based on the stabilizing compound it is attached to (called a chelate) which all have different bioavailability, absorption and therapeutic value2. Reach out to your Naturopathic Doctor to discuss the types of magnesium and whether supplementation is needed for you.


  1. Jahnen-Dechent, W., & Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clinical kidney journal5(Suppl_1), i3-i14.
  5. De Baaij, J. H., Hoenderop, J. G., & Bindels, R. J. (2015). Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiological reviews.

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