Magnesium: Deficiency, Benefits, and Best Forms

Magnesium: Deficiency, Benefits, and Best Forms

Oct 19, 2023

Magnesium is a vital mineral found in every cell of our body because it plays a crucial role in over 600 biological reactions. These include DNA repair, the conversion of food into energy (metabolism and body weight regulation), muscle relaxation, and numerous other functions that are essential for maintaining health (1).  

Furthermore, the synthesis of serotonin (the natural mood-enhancing hormone) and glutathione (the body's key antioxidant) both require this mineral (1). 

According to one renowned expert, "Every known illness is associated with a Magnesium deficiency" (2). Therefore, addressing this deficiency can be crucial in promoting overall health and well-being. 


Key Causes of Deficiency

Many people suffer from insufficient levels of this vital nutrient without realizing it. Furthermore, its deficiency is often misdiagnosed because conventional blood tests may not reveal it, as only one percent of the body's Magnesium is found in the bloodstream (3). 

Low levels are associated with the following factors: 

Widespread mineral depletion in both plant-based and animal-based foods due to soil degradation. Experts point out that a century ago, a typical diet provided 500 milligrams of Magnesium daily, but today, we're fortunate to get 200 milligrams.  

Consequently, obtaining sufficient amounts of this mineral from our diet alone, even if we consume unprocessed plant-based foods, is very challenging. For this reason, everyone should consider supplementation (3). 

Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics leading to a significant increase in the urinary excretion. 

Consumption of sugar and other refined foods (such as white flour products and white rice). Sugar causes the body to excrete Magnesium with urine. 

Emotional stress depletes this mineral because it raises adrenaline levels. The more nervous, anxious, and stressed we are, the greater the Magnesium loss (3). 

Excessive calcium intake. Americans and Europeans often have a high calcium-to-Magnesium ratio in their diets, primarily due to dairy consumption (high in calcium) and excessive use of calcium supplements. 

Fluoride present in tap water and toothpastes. 

High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation can gradually deplete Magnesium, as vitamin D uses it for its own conversion into active D4 form.  

Cooking and food processing. 

Medication, including diuretics and antacids, may hinder absorption. 

Digestive system issues, such as inflammation, may impair the body's ability to absorb Magnesium. 

According to one animal study, oestrogen decline caused inflammation of nerve cells by triggering Magnesium deficiency in aged female mice (4). 

Our ability to absorb this mineral decreases with age.  Magnesium Deficiency, Benefits, and Best Forms


Signs of Deficiency

  • Difficulty sleeping despite feeling tired. 

  • Muscle, stomach, and menstrual cramps. 

  • Spastic colon. 

  • Cardiovascular problems (the heart is a muscle and requires Magnesium for normal function). 

  • Low mood, irritability, and unexplained anxiety. 

  • Fatigue and tiredness. 

  • Poor memory and impaired cognitive function. 

  • Cravings for sugar and salt. 

  • Constipation. 

  • Weak immunity. 

  • Morning sickness during pregnancy. 

  • Poor bone health. 


Key Health Benefits

Magnesium serves as an excellent aid for promoting sleep and relaxation. It plays a crucial role in stress management and is essential for the proper functioning of our nervous system and brain. This, in turn, enhances mood and positively impacts sleep patterns.  

This effect is attributed to Magnesium's involvement in the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, known for their calming and relaxation-inducing properties (5).  

Magnesium, particularly in the form of citrate, can help alleviate constipation. It relaxing the bowels anddrawsg water into the intestines. It softens and increases the bulk of stool, making it easier to pass (6).  


Magnesium Deficiency, Benefits, and Best Forms


It also prevents constipation by maintaining healthy nervous system function, which regulates colon motility. It contributes to the production of serotonin, which not only acts as an antidepressant but also regulates colon peristalsis, preventing constipation.  

Moreover, it plays a vital role in maintaining healthy muscle contractions and relaxation, which is essential for the normal function of the colon. 

Dr Craig Maxwell has emphasized the fact that Magnesium helps relax the smooth muscles of the colon, facilitating normal bowel movements. He suggested that regarding the bowel health, it is as important as the high-fibre diet (7).  

A study published in 1996, explained how Magnesium sulfate drew water from other tissues into the small intestines, stimulating intestinal movement. The American Cancer Society confirmed that Magnesium citrate has a similar laxative effect, typically resulting in a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 3 hours of supplementation (6). 

Magnesium can be beneficial for alleviating migraine headaches. Its involvement in neurotransmitter function and the regulation of blood vessel constriction and relaxation in the brain makes it a potential factor in migraine prevention. Studies have shown that migraine sufferers who supplement with this mineral experience an improvement in their symptoms (8).  

Magnesium is believed to be more important for strong bones and teeth than calcium. Excessive calcium intake without adequate Magnesium can lead to brittle bones (5). This is so because calcium cannot be effectively used for bone strengthening without Magnesium. Instead of supporting bones, it tends to accumulate in the kidneys and arteries, contributing to the hardening of arteries and the formation of kidney stones. 

People with type 2 diabetes are low in Magnesium. It plays a vital role in maintaining normal blood glucose levels, aiding in the conversion of sugar into energy. Studies have demonstrated that oral supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels (9, 10).  

In terms of cardiovascular health, it helps relax blood vessels and promotes heart health, contributing to normal blood pressure. Dr Yiqing Song suggests that maintaining optimal levels of this mineral may aid in the prevention and treatment of hypertension (10). 

It plays a crucial role in relaxing various muscles. A deficiency can lead to spasms and dysfunctions of muscles such as the uterus, heart, stomach, and colon. Magnesium supplementation is often the primary and sometimes the only effective way to relax these muscles. This makes it a valuable aid for muscle cramps, stomach cramps, and menstrual (uterine) cramps (10).  


 Magnesium Deficiency, Benefits, and Best Forms


Most Popular Types of Supplemental Magnesium

Magnesium citrate is often the top recommendation for those seeking to address deficiencies. It combines Magnesium with citric acid. It stands out as an excellent choice for maximizing bioavailability.  

Furthermore, it possesses a mild laxative effect. It relaxes bowels and pulls water into the intestines softening and bulking up the stool, making it easier to pass and helping ease constipation.  

Unlike other forms, citrate remains soluble in the intestines even when acidity drops. 

Another well-absorbed form is Magnesium bisglycinate. It may impose a better relaxing effect than other forms because it contains Magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine, known for its calming impact on the nervous system.  

Some experts claim that bisglycinate chelate is the safest and most absorbable form. At the same time, it doesn’t have a laxative effect. For this reason, it might be more suitable for people with inflamed and oversensitive lining of the colon. 

Magnesium oxide is less bioavailable compared to citrate and bisglycinate. It may induce a laxative effect, which can be helpful for individuals dealing with sluggish bowel movements or constipation. 

Magnesium carbonate exhibits antacid properties, potentially benefiting individuals experiencing heartburn. Avoid using this form with or immediately after meals, as it may reduce stomach acidity which is essential for proper digestion. If you suffer from heartburn, take it between meals. 


Recommended Daily Intake

  • Infants–6 months: 30-50 milligrams 

  • 7–12 months: 60-70 milligrams 

  • 1–3 years: 80-100 milligrams 

  • 4–7 years: 120-150 milligrams 

  • 8–13 years: 200-300 milligrams 

  • 14–Adults: 350-450 milligrams  

  • Pregnant women: 350–450 milligrams 

  • Breastfeeding women: 300-350 milligrams 



You can take 100mg to 200mg twice or three times a day (depending on your needs) with meals or between them. 

If you're consuming high doses of vitamin D3, it's important to consider increasing your Magnesium supplementation. This is because vitamin D needs this mineral to convert itself into an active vitamin D4 form.   


Related Articles



  1. Magnesium 1987;6(1):28-33 
  2. Carolyn Dean, Gauging Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms 
  3. National Institutes of Health, Magnesium Fact Sheet 
  4. The Causal Role of Magnesium Deficiency in the Neuroinflammation, Pain Hypersensitivity and Memory/Emotional Deficits in Ovariectomized and Aged Female Mice - PMC ( 
  5. The Worlds Healthiest Foods, Magnesium 
  7. Dr Craig Maxwell, Health and Wellness 
  8. GreenMedInfo December 5, 2012 
  9. ADA Diabetes Care October 2, 2013; DC_13139 
  10. GreenMedInfo December 5, 2012 


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