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The Magic of Magnesium

Updated: Nov 20, 2018

One mineral that's packed full of benefits...

How essential is Magnesium for normal bodily functions and your overall health? Very!

Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition.


Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein. There is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. However, taking magnesium supplements is not currently recommended. Diets high in protein, calcium, or vitamin D will increase the need for magnesium.

Food Sources

Foods which contain magnesium:

  • Green leafy vegetables: spinach and kale

  • Fruit: Figs, avocado, banana and raspberries

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Legumes: black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans

  • Vegetables: peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts

  • Seafood: salmon, mackerel, tuna

  • Whole grains: brown rice and oats

  • Raw cacao

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Tofu

  • Baked beans

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Hyper-excitability

  • Muscle weakness

  • Sleepiness

Deficiency of magnesium can occur in people who abuse alcohol or in those who absorb less magnesium including:

  • People with gastrointestinal disease or surgery causing malabsorption

  • Older adults

  • People with type 2 diabetes

Symptoms due to a lack of magnesium have three categories.

Early symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

Moderate deficiency symptoms:

  • Numbness/Tingling

  • Muscle contractions and cramps

  • Seizures

  • Personality changes

  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Severe deficiency:

  • Low blood calcium level (hypocalcemia)

  • Low blood potassium level (hypokalemia)


These are the recommended daily requirements of magnesium:


Birth to 6 months: 30 mg/day*

6 months to 1 year: 75 mg/day*

*AI or Adequate Intake


1 to 3 years old: 80 milligrams

4 to 8 years old: 130 milligrams

9 to 13 years old: 240 milligrams

14 to 18 years old (boys): 410 milligrams

14 to 18 years old (girls): 360 milligrams


Adult males: 400 to 420 miligrams Adult females: 310 to 320 milligrams

Pregnancy: 350 to 400 milligrams

Breastfeeding women: 310 to 360 milligrams

Adult males: 400 to 420 milligrams


Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. National Academies Press. Washington, DC, 1997. PMID: 23115811

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

National Institutes of Health. Magnesium: fact sheet for health professionals. Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed April 6, 2016.

Yu ASL. Disorders of magneium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 119.


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