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The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is an important nutrient used by the body to stay healthy: it regulates our blood pressure, helps to keep our bones strong, and also helps to keep the heart rhythm steady. More than half of the body's magnesium is stored in the bones; the remaining is stored in various tissues througout our body.

The amount of magnesium you need varies by age; the average daily recommended  amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg):

Image source: National Institute of Health.

What foods provide magnesium?

Magnesium is found in plant foods like dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, and other fortified foods; It is also in poultry, beef, and fish. 

Can I take a magnesium supplement?

Yes, magnesium is available as a dietary supplement: magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium chloride are the more easily absorbed forms.

You can also purchase some laxatives that include magnesium to treat heartburn and indigestion. However, it is best to consume magnesium in its natural form by eating wholesome foods.

Am I getting the right amount of magnesium?

In a recent study, 50% of Americans do not get the recommended daily amounts of magnesium.  Teenage girls and boys along with men older than 70 are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium.  However, when you combine magnesium enriched foods with dietary supplements, the total intake of magnesium is generally above the recommended amounts.

What happens if I do not get enough magnesium?

Chronic low magnesium intake can lead to magnesium deficiency.  The symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Headaches

  • Nighttime leg cramps

  • Osteoporosis

  • Hypertension

  • Coronory heart disease

  • Diabetes

Magnesium deficiency in extreme cases can cause muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.

Who is at higher risk for magnesium deficiency?

Health Benefits of Magnesium

There are some studies that indicate people who have more magnesium in their diets have a lower risk of some types of heart disease and stroke.  However, it is important to note that in many of these studies it was unclear as to how much of the health benefits were due to magnesium as opposed to other nutrients.  Some other health benefits include:

  • A lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.

  • Improved bone density (lower risk of osteoporosis.

  • Lower risk of migraine headaches.

  • Improved muscle and nerve function.

Can too much magnesium be harmful?

In healthy people, our kidneys will get rid of any access amounts of magnesium so you do not need to limit your intake.  However,  magnesium found in dietary supplements and medications should not exceed the upper limit amount unless recommended by a health care provider.

The daily upper limits for magnesium from dietary supplements and/or medications are listed below:

Image credit: National Institute of Health.

As you can see, the upper limit amount of magnesium in many of the age groups is lower than the recommended amount.  This is because the recommended amount includes magnesium from all sources: food, beverages, dietary supplements, and medications; The upper limits include magnesium from only dietary supplements and medications.  They do not show magnesium found naturally in food and beverages.

Common problems from taking too much magnesium:

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain and cramping

  • In extreme cases, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest can occur.

In closing, magnesium is a mineral that is vital to our heart and body function. It is important to eat the proper daily recommended amounts to have optimum health.

Author Bio

Isabella Boston

Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She is well-versed in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies with a focus on health and wellness, fashion and beauty, and natural healing as it pertains to the body, mind, and the soul. She is also a romance writer and the author of Passion of Flames.


1. Magnesium fact sheet for consumers - office of dietary supplements (ODS). (n.d.).

2. WebMD. (n.d.-b). Magnesium supplements: Benefits, deficiency, dosage, effects, and more. WebMD.

3. Magnesium. The Nutrition Source. (2023, March 7).

4. Rosique-Esteban, N., Guasch-Ferré, M., Hernández-Alonso, P., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2018, February 1). Dietary magnesium and cardiovascular disease: A review with emphasis in epidemiological studies. Nutrients.,disease%20and%20coronary%20heart%20disease.


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