Hand Holding magnesium element
Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium

Fact Checked by Brett Melanson, PhD

Magnesium is a mineral that is required for many chemical reactions in the body.

As a key player in energy metabolism, brain cell communication, and immune function, it is important to make sure you are getting enough magnesium every day to avoid any problems in these areas (and many more).

Interestingly, about 99% of the magnesium in your body is typically found in bones, non-muscular soft tissues, and muscle, but the majority of this mineral is located within parts of your bones (1) (2).

The thing is, is that magnesium stored in bones is not easily accessed by the body unless you experience a fast drop in magnesium levels.

In this case, the bone can release magnesium to help restore levels of this mineral back to normal (3) (4).

This is why it is important to make sure you are receiving an adequate amount of magnesium in the diet.

Unfortunately, a study published in 2012 reported that, based on the most recent data, almost half of the United States population consumed lower than the recommended amount of magnesium in their diets (5).

Luckily, you can increase your daily intake of magnesium by consuming a variety of foods or by including daily magnesium supplements to ensure you are receiving the right amount every day (6).

Let’s take a look at some of the evidence-based effects of magnesium in the body.

1. Important Factor in Your Body’s Biochemistry

Magnesium is known to play a key role in over 600 reactions in the body, such as those that involve energy metabolism, protein formation, and regulation of the nervous system (7).

In fact, magnesium is highly important for brain cells to communicate with one another and is thought to contribute to learning and memory processes.

For example, when you first learn how to write, ride a bike, or even walk, your brain cells have to talk to each other to form connections that allow you to remember the complex movements required to do any of these tasks.

When learning something new, magnesium allows communicating cells to link together to create a memory of that new thing. In a way, magnesium serves as a gatekeeper in the formation of new memories and skills (8).

One of the most important roles of magnesium is its ability to regulate the creation and maintenance of DNA and RNA – genetic molecules that basically hold the instructions for who you are as living organism (9) (10).

Main point: Magnesium is important for many bodily functions, such as energy metabolism, genetic regulation, and the communication of brain cells when learning something new.

2. Magnesium May Improve Athletic Performance

There is evidence that magnesium is required more when exercising in comparison to when you are resting (11).

This may be because magnesium helps increase energy supply to your muscles and removes buildup of “junk” molecules like lactic acid when exercising (12). 

In fact, people who play volleyball found that taking magnesium supplements every day improved athletic abilities like arm movements and jumping, while triathlon competitors found magnesium supplements helped them run, bicycle, and swim faster (13) (14).

There are also studies that have shown no effect of magnesium on athletic performance, but differences in the methods used to study its effects may be the reason why results are mixed (15) (16).

Main point: There is some evidence that magnesium may improve athletic abilities, possibly by helping with energy supply and removing junk buildup from muscles. Though, results are mixed in this area.

3. Magnesium Has Mood Benefits

Magnesium may also be good for your mood.

In fact, low levels of this mineral have been linked to an increased risk for mood disorders like depression (17) (18).

Studies have even shown that taking a magnesium supplement may help with symptoms of depression as well (19) (20).

Specifically, patients with depression took 450 mg of magnesium per day and researchers found that magnesium helped improve mood as much as antidepressant medication.

Main point: Low levels of magnesium have been linked to lowered mood. There is some evidence that magnesium supplements may help boost mood, at least in individuals with mood disorders.

4. Magnesium is Important for Regulating Blood Sugar

The body uses a small peptide molecule called insulin to absorb glucose from the blood.

In disorders like diabetes, insulin does work as well as it should to help the body take in glucose.

Interestingly, magnesium may play a key role in the body’s ability to use insulin properly as one study found that magnesium supplements helped improve insulin function and blood sugar levels in people with and without blood sugar problems (21).

In fact, many studies have shown that magnesium very well improves insulin function in non-diabetic people and in people with metabolic disorders (22) (23) (24).

Main point: Magnesium may be an important mineral for the body to use sugar in the blood. It may even help regulate blood sugar in people with and without metabolic disorders.

5. It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can greatly impact our long-term health.

Fortunately, studies suggest that magnesium is also effective at lowering blood pressure (25) (26) (27).

Importantly, this effect may only happen for those with high blood pressure, as magnesium supplements had no effect in people with normal blood pressure (28) (29).

Main point: There is evidence that magnesium can reduce blood pressure, but this appears to only work in people experiencing high blood pressure levels.

6. It Can Help Regulate Inflammation

There is also evidence that magnesium is important for inflammation in the body.

Specifically, low levels of magnesium were linked to chronic inflammation, which may be related to high blood sugar and insulin levels in people with high inflammation and low magnesium (30) (31) (32) (33).

Importantly, taking magnesium supplements also lowered inflammation in people struggling with weight, who were older in age, or at risk for diabetes (34) (35) (36).

Main point: Many studies have shown that magnesium may help with inflammation in the body, especially in people dealing with health complications associated with high inflammation.

Should I Take Magnesium Supplements?

You should always discuss any changes to your diet or lifestyle with a healthcare professional to make sure they will not cause any adverse events.

However, magnesium is a relatively safe mineral with minimal side effects and is very beneficial to many bodily functions.

It is always wise to begin with low doses of the mineral and increase based on what your daily diet includes and what your healthcare practitioner recommends.

Overall, magnesium is safe and can help improve many areas of your life.

Eating foods high in magnesium content is one of the best ways to increase the availability of this mineral in your body, but supplements are by far the easiest to make sure you are getting the right amount each day.


Fact Checked by Brett Melanson, PhD