Effects on the body

Regulating body temperature, detox, transmitting nerve impulses, energy production, and formation of healthy teeth and bones are just a few of the major functions that are supported by magnesium. Women especially need magnesium as the mineral supports bone health, relieves symptoms of PMS and menopause, and can reduce the risk of premature labor. Other ways magnesium is important to men and women include:

  • Boosts bioavailability of B-6 and cholesterol
  • Improves muscle function
  • Relieves constricted airways
  • Prevents insomnia
  • Prevents heart attack
  • Prevents constipation
  • Prevents migraines
  • Prevents kidney stones
  • Prevents gallstones

Magnesium Deficiency

In addition to modern farming and water treatment processes, consumption of caffeine, alcohol, salt, and foods that are high in phytic acid have left the average person's diet low in magnesium. Signs of magnesium deficiency in the body may manifest itself as mild, unnoticeable symptoms such as:

  • High levels of stress
  • Headaches
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Lack of appetite
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Anxiety

More serious complications of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Kidney stones
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gut disorders
  • Poor dental health
  • Depression
  • Mental disturbances
  • Impaired short term memory
  • Insulin resistance

While very severe magnesium deficiency is rare, the condition is more likely to occur in people who:

  • Have Crohn's disease
  • Have kidney disease
  • Have a parathyroid disorder
  • Take cancer or diabetes drugs
  • Take antibiotics
  • Are seniors
  • Abuse alcohol

Magnesium Food Sources

Individuals who suspect they may be deficient in magnesium should first aim to include more foods containing this key mineral in their daily diet. Dark leafy greens such as raw spinach, swiss chard, and kale are among the leading food sources of magnesium. Squash seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other nuts such as almonds, cashews, pine nuts, and peanuts also contain substantial amounts of the vital mineral. Seafood lovers can increase their intake by consuming pollock, mackerel, turbot, and tuna. Green beans and lentils, low fat dairy, avocados, bananas, dried fruit, and dark chocolate are other key sources.

Magnesium Supplements

Getting enough magnesium through diet can be difficult for people who have a more severe deficiency. Magnesium supplements can provide the recommended amount of the mineral for those who otherwise struggle to maintain sufficient magnesium levels. The recommended dosage for adult females ages 19 to 30 is 310 mg per day. Women who are 31 and over should include 320 mg per day. Pregnant women who are over the age of 18 require between 350 to 360 mg per day. Men require 400 mg daily until age 31, at which point they should increase their intake to 420 mg each day.

Side Effects

Side effects that may occur as a result of taking magnesium supplements include stool softening, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. People who are taking heart medicine or antibiotics should check with their healthcare provider prior to taking magnesium due to possible negative interaction. People who have kidney disease, diabetes, or intestinal disease should also speak with a healthcare provider prior to beginning supplementation. Magnesium overdose is possible and should be avoided. Signs include low blood pressure, muscle weakness, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. In cases of very high doses, overdose can be fatal.


As one of the most important minerals to human health, magnesium has many roles in the body. By consuming a balanced diet that includes plenty of magnesium-rich foods and taking supplements if necessary, the proper magnesium levels can be maintained relatively easily in most people.