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Magnesium - The one nutrient we can't do without?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017  |  Editor

The importance of magnesium in your diet

(Original article care of BioCare)

If there’s one nutrient we should all consider supplementing, it’s magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important elements in our body, being involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions.1 Up to 60% of it is stored in our skeleton. Therefore, just like calcium, it is important for healthy bones and prevention of conditions such as osteoporosis. Apart from musculoskeletal health, it is also involved in making protein, helping muscle and nerve function, controlling our blood glucose levels, supporting our blood pressure regulation and energy production.2 In fact magnesium is so essential to so many biological functions, that it’s possibly the one nutrient we can’t do without.

Where is magnesium found

Magnesium is predominantly found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Unfortunately, many of us don’t consume enough of those foods. Also modern lifestyle can create a big drain on magnesium reserves. Because magnesium is used for so many processes, it can get easily depleted, especially by stress, erratic eating patterns, high sugar diets or overtraining. In addition, some common medications, such as acid blockers used for reflux for example, can reduce absorption of magnesium.

Do you need more magnesium

So, how would you know if you need more magnesium? If you suffer from headaches, PMS, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, anxiety, constipation, fatigue, memory problems, hyperactivity, you could be deficient. In fact, a study done in America showed that 48% of the population have inadequate intake of this vital mineral.3

How can you increase you magnesium level

You can naturally increase your magnesium levels by increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as vegetables, including leafy greens and squash, nuts and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, almonds and cashews, or healthy grains and beans such as quinoa and black beans. Also try magnesium baths, using Epsom salts or magnesium flakes. They can be great to relieve muscle pain or help you to relax in the evening. Make sure you change your lifestyle to reduce magnesium depletion, eating nutritious foods at regular times, avoiding processed foods and refined carbohydrates, reducing stress and allowing time for your body to recover form exertion. Ensure your digestion is working properly to enhance magnesium absorption. If you suffer with any digestive complaints, consider using probiotics or digestive enzymes to help.

So.. what’s the right magnesium for you?

Increasing food sources of magnesium should be a priority but, if your requirements are high, or if you already have symptoms of deficiency, food alone may not be enough. In fact, there’s growing evidence that supplementing magnesium, especially specific types, can help with supporting certain aspects of health and in relieving certain medical conditions. You see, not all magnesium is equal. Choosing the right type is critical to successful health support.

Just as any other mineral, magnesium has to be bound to a ‘carrier’ molecule, when it is consumed in a supplement form. The type of this carrier will determine its use and absorption rate, so it is important to choose the one that suits you best. For example, magnesium citrate was shown to be much more bioavailable (better absorbed and used by the body) than oxide 4. You can also benefit from the other molecule that the magnesium is bound to, as they all have their own unique functions in the body. Some of the most commonly used ones include:

  • Magnesium Citrate is a well absorbed, gentle form that delivers a good amount of magnesium per capsule. So it’s a great choice for general magnesium supplementation when you want to increase levesl and support all the functions we’ve mentioned.
  • Magnesium Malate – malic acid is a natural compound found in many different foods (e.g. apples). In the body, it is important for energy production. It’s been found to reduce tiredness, tenderness, pain and fatigue in fibromyalgia.5 So magnesium malate may be a better choice for those people with energy and fatigue issues. It doesn’t give quite as much magnesium as other forms, but this isn’t an issue as the malate part is just as important in supporting energy.
  • Magnesium Taurate – an amino acid - taurine is used to create bile which helps detoxify the liver, lower cholesterol6 and support digestion of fats,7. It also supports the nervous system by activating the calming neurotransmitter GABA.8 Therefore it can be particularly helpful for people with liver or heart problems9, poor fat digestion10 or those with high stress levels or insomnia..
  • Magnesium Glycinate –supports the nervous system, improving episodic memory, attention and learning.11

Many of us may need additional magnesium support, but it is important to remember that not all magnesium is equal. Choose the best form for your specific needs. See all magnesium supplements


  1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluorideexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
  2.  Rude. (2012) Magnesium. In: Ross et al. (eds) Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, Mass: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp159-75.
  3. Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64.
  4. Walker et al. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res. 2003 Sep;16(3):183-91.
  5. Abraham, Flechas. Management of fibromyalgia: Rationale for the use of magnesium and malic acid. J Nutr Environ Med. 1992; 3 (1): 49-59.
  6. Militante J.D., Lombardini J.B. Dietary taurine supplementation: Hypolipidemic and antiatherogenic effects. Nutrition Research. 2004; 24 (10): 787 – 801.
  7. Smith et al. Taurine decreases fecal fatty acid and sterol excretion in cystic fibrosis. A randomized double-blind trial. Am J Dis Child. 1991; 145 (12): 1401-4.
  8. Jia et al. Taurine is a potent activator of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors in the thalamus. Journal of Neuroscience. 2008; 28 (1): 106-15.
  9. Fujita T, Ando K, Noda H, Ito Y, Sato Y. Effects of increased adrenomedullary activity and taurine in young patients with borderline hypertension. Circulation. 1987 Mar;75(3):525-32.
  10. Obinata K, Maruyama T, Hayashi M, Watanabe T, Nittono H. Effect of taurine on the fatty liver of children with simple obesity. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;403:607-13.
  11. File SE, Fluck E, Fernandes C. Beneficial effects of glycine (bioglycin) on memory and attention in young and middle-aged adults. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999 Dec;19(6):506-12.