Magnesium Nutrient Summary

Written by Olivia Farrow, RD, MHSc

Reviewed by Krista Kolodziejzyk, RD, MPH, MBA

This article will provide an overview of magnesium, its purposes in the body, food sources, and supplement recommendations. 

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in the human body and is a popular supplement (1,2). It is involved in enzyme activation, energy production, muscle function, nervous system support, bone health, DNA and RNA synthesis, blood pressure regulation, and electrolyte balance (1,2). From facilitating chemical reactions to supporting proper muscle, metabolic, and nerve function, magnesium is crucial for many bodily processes (1,2,3). 

For a full magnesium evidence summary and supplement guide join Dietitian Success Center’s membership. Your membership includes access to comprehensive yet simplified reference guides for supplements, food sources lists, and client-facing handouts for many nutrients, including magnesium. 

 

Food Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is readily found in many dietary sources, including leafy greens, seeds, legumes, and whole grains such as (4,5):

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 317 mg / ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Chia Seeds – 190 mg / ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Brazil Nuts – 133 mg / ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Soy – 100 mg / ¾ cup (175 g)
  • Almonds – 95 mg / ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Salmon – 92 mg / 2.5oz (75 g)
  • Cashews – 90 mg / ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Bran cereal – 90 mg / ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Edamame – 88 mg/ ¼ cup (60 mL)
  • Swiss chard – 80 mg / ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Beans – 70 mg / ¾ cup (175 mL)

A comprehensive list of food sources of magnesium can be found in DSC’s Food Sources of Nutrients Compilation

 

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is uncommon due to renal management of magnesium excretion when levels are low (1). However, low magnesium intake is becoming increasingly more common due to low intake of magnesium-containing food sources in some populations (2).

 

Uses and Effectiveness of Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium has been studied for the management of several conditions including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM): Magnesium is linked to glucose metabolism and may lower the risk of insulin resistance and T2DM (1,2). However, evidence is limited and magnesium supplementation for glucose management in T2DM is not supported by the American Diabetes Association (6).
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Magnesium plays a role in blood pressure regulation and may have a modest blood pressure-lowering effect (1,2). Adequate dietary magnesium intake may improve cardiovascular risk factors, but further research is needed (1,2).
  • Bone Health: Magnesium is essential for bone formation and may help maintain bone mineral density (1,3). Its role in osteoporosis prevention requires more investigation (1,3).
  • Headaches: Some studies suggest a link between magnesium deficiency and headaches, and high-dose magnesium supplementation (600 mg daily) may be effective, but consultation with a healthcare provider is essential (1,2,3).
  • Constipation: Magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide are used to treat constipation in children and adults (7).
  • Anxiety and Depression: Magnesium’s influence on mood-regulating neurotransmitters may improve symptoms of anxiety, stress, premenstrual mood changes, and depression, although evidence quality varies (8,9).
  • Other Potential Uses: Magnesium supplements have been proposed for ADHD, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, dysmenorrhea, fatigue, insomnia, fibromyalgia, hearing loss, leg cramps during pregnancy, and dyspepsia (2,3). However, further research is needed to confirm effectiveness for these conditions and symptoms.

Magnesium supplements are available in a wide variety of forms, which are outlined along with potential benefits and disadvantages in DSC’s Magnesium Evidence Summary

 

Key Takeaways

  • Magnesium is an essential mineral with numerous roles in the body, including enzyme activation, muscle function, bone health, and blood pressure regulation.
  • Food sources of magnesium include leafy greens, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Magnesium supplements may have potential benefits for conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone health, headaches, constipation, anxiety, and depression, but further research is needed for many of these uses.

Disclaimer: the information provided in all written materials is for educational purposes only and is not to be used as medical advice or to diagnose or treat a medical disease. It is strictly for informational purposes and is general in nature. Dietitian Success Center Inc. is not responsible and cannot be held liable for any actions or inactions taken related to the information provided. Consult with your local medical provider before implementing any dietary changes. It is hereby understood that the information provided does not replace medical advice provided by your healthcare provider.

 

References

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  2. Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226. doi: 10.3390/nu7095388. PMID: 26404370; PMCID: PMC4586582.
  3. Guerrera MP, Volpe SL, Mao JJ. Therapeutic uses of magnesium. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-62. PMID: 19621856.
  4. Canadian Nutrient File. “Canadian nutrient file search engine online.” (2015).
  5. US Department of Agriculture. “FoodData Central.” (2019). Fdc.nal.usda.gov
  6. Evert, et al.; American Diabetes Association. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2013 Nov;36(11):3821-42. doi: 10.2337/dc13-2042. Epub 2013 Oct 9. PMID: 24107659; PMCID: PMC3816916.
  7. Mori H, Tack J, Suzuki H. Magnesium Oxide in Constipation. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 28;13(2):421. doi: 10.3390/nu13020421. PMID: 33525523; PMCID: PMC7911806.
  8. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 26;9(5):429. doi: 10.3390/nu9050429. PMID: 28445426; PMCID: PMC5452159.
  9. Derom ML, Sayón-Orea C, Martínez-Ortega JM, Martínez-González MA. Magnesium and depression: a systematic review. Nutr Neurosci. 2013 Sep;16(5):191-206. doi: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000044. Epub 2012 Dec 6. PMID: 23321048.

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