March 28, 2023

Importance of Magnesium for Good Health

magnesium supplement

Studies have shown that approximately 50% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by age and gender, but most teens and adults need between 310 and 420 milligrams (mg) per day. 

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements provides
these recommendations:

Age Male Female
 1-3 years 80 mg  80 mg
4-8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9-13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14-18 years 410 mg 360 mg
19-30 years 400 mg 310 mg
31-50 years 420 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg


Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. Consequently, getting enough of it is vital to good health in several ways. 


Benefits of magnesium include:


  • Helping to lower elevated blood pressure
  • Improving bone health
  • Lowering stroke risk
  • Preventing migraines
  • Reducing type 2 diabetes risk
  • Lowering cardiovascular disease risk

Evidence suggests magnesium may also:

  • Improve exercise performance
  • Support healthy blood sugar levels
  • Help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Provide anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Improve sleep onset, quality, and duration
  • Reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)


Causes and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can have several causes, including:


  • Excessive urination from unmanaged or incorrectly managed diabetes 
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Malnutrition
  • Inadequate nutrient absorption due to conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Specific medications

People suffering from magnesium deficiency may experience the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle cramps, contractions, and tingling
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Seizures

It’s rare to have too much magnesium in your system because your kidneys typically eliminate what you don’t need. However, high magnesium levels can occur, with symptoms such as low blood pressure, facial flushing, irregular heartbeat, cramping, diarrhea, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, cardiac arrest can occur. 

Magnesium may also affect prescription medications, so you should talk with your doctor about potential interactions. 


Magnesium: Available Through Diet and Supplements

Dietary magnesium is found in foods like whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, some fruits, and fish. If you don’t get enough magnesium from your diet, you can increase your intake using magnesium supplements. 


Magnesium Glycinate vs. Citrate and Others

Magnesium supplements come in various formulations, including magnesium citrate (used to treat occasional constipation) and magnesium oxide. Because the body doesn’t absorb magnesium oxide effectively, many people get better results from magnesium glycinate. 

Available in powder or pill form, it combines magnesium with the amino acid glycine, which makes it very “bioavailable” — meaning it’s easy for the small intestine to absorb. 

Talk with your doctor before starting a magnesium glycinate regimen. And when taking a supplement, you can reduce the risk of stomach upset by taking it with food. 

As noted above, too high an intake can cause magnesium side effects. So, monitoring how much of it you get from your diet and supplements is crucial.


Learn More About Diet and Nutrition from Baptist Health

Eating well supports living well. If you have questions about your diet, talk with your doctor. They can provide guidance and may put you in touch with our nutrition education and diet counseling specialists. 

Learn More.