Magnesium is an ESSENTIAL mineral involved in more than 600 biochemical processes in the human body1. In this article, we are going to discuss 10 things that could go wrong or perform poorly if you are magnesium deficient, but really there are more than 300.
Based on the current data 75 – 80% of our population is magnesium deficient and if you exercise intensely and eat a Standard Australia Diet then there is a 95% chance you are deficient2.
So, what are the obvious signs of magnesium deficiency?
1. Low Energy
Magnesium is used to create ‘energy’ in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the master energy molecule for humans. ATP is only bioactive and can be used when bound to magnesium3. Therefore, without sufficient magnesium, you can’t provide sufficient biologically active ATP.
In fact, low levels of magnesium mean you tire more quickly and need a higher level of oxygen during exercise. One study conducted by the ARS Community Nutrition Research Group found that when magnesium-deficient women exercised4, they needed more oxygen to complete low-level activities and had a higher heart rate compared to when their magnesium levels were higher.
2. Weak Bones
Doctors will have you believe that the major cause of osteoporosis is a deficiency in calcium. While this can be the case. It is more often low Vitamin D3, K2 and Magnesium. In fact, magnesium helps balance blood levels of vitamin D3 and recent research has shown you can reverse osteoporosis in some cases by increasing magnesium intake5.
3. Ageing Fast
Magnesium is critically involved in DNA, RNA and Glutathione production6. If your DNA doesn’t replicate correctly or you get shortening in the telomeres, then your cells age much quicker. Glutathione is our master internal detoxification molecule. It helps to remove toxic waste and reduces free radicals (molecules that damage our cells). Glutathione is considered the internal fountain of youth and magnesium has the ability to help boost its production.
4. Type II Diabetes or Overweight
Diets higher in magnesium have a lower rate of diabetes. Meta-analysis studies involving over 1,000,000 participants have shown a statistically significant correlation between lower magnesium intake and diabetes/weight gain, which has been hypothesised to be due to magnesium’s role in glucose metabolism7. One study showed a moderate increase of 100mg / day of magnesium may lower the risk of diabetes by 15%.
5. Hypertension & Cardiovascular Disease
Magnesium alone can lower blood pressure. However, its benefit is very mild and is not considered the main reason magnesium is associated with a lowered risk of sudden death from myocardial infarction. In one recent study men and women between 45 -64 years of age had a 38% lower risk of heart attack than those with lower magnesium intake8.
6. Muscle Loss & Weakness
Magnesium is essential for repeated muscle contractions to take place. It is well documented that low intake of magnesium is associated with weakened skeletal muscle. Researchers have now discovered this weakening may lead to muscle loss or better known as muscle atrophy.
7. Stressed out
We all have varying degrees of stress every day. It is how we deal with stress that makes a difference. Our ability to cope with stress may be dependent on magnesium intake. Magnesium is critical in GABA production which is a calming neurotransmitter responsible for the production of our happy hormones like serotonin.
Magnesium deficiencies have been shown to increase the level of cortisol in the brain. This cortisol increase effects a part of the brain responsible for dealing with stress and anxiety9. Therefore, magnesium supplementation can have calming benefits for people with busy or stressful lives.
8. Poor Sleep
Leading on from reducing sleep we find that magnesium supplementation before bed can improve your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and feel more energised upon waking. One study in 2012 was shown to improve melatonin production and reduce cortisol levels resulting in better sleep and greater recovery10.
9. Muscle Cramps
Many people experience muscle cramps and while it may often be a result of electrolyte imbalance, magnesium has been found to reduce symptoms and the pain associated with muscle or stomach cramps. In fact, it is well documented that magnesium helps regulate calcium, potassium and sodium in your body11. This regulating benefit may help to reduce electrolyte imbalances and improve muscle control.
10. Poor Digestion or Constipation
Magnesium helps to relax the smooth muscle tissue of your digestive tract which leads to improved peristalsis (movement of food through your bowels). If you are having trouble going to the toilet to poop then you may consider magnesium supplementation as a first-course action. It has been shown to be so effective, that now many doctors are recommending it ahead of laxatives12.
How much Magnesium do I need?
There are many studies supporting daily intakes up around 900mg per day. However, around half that amount will see you getting noticeable benefits both physically & emotionally.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) for Magnesium
|Birth to 6 months||30 mg||30 mg|
|7 - 12 months||75 mg||75 mg|
|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||400 mg||360 mg|
|19 - 30 Years||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|31 - 50 Years||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
|51+ Years||420 mg||320 mg|
Where can I get extra Magnesium?
There are many good food sources including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, sprouts and whole grains. However, to ensure you are getting sufficient magnesium a good supplement would be recommended.
What is the best form of Magnesium?
You may have noticed there are many different forms of magnesium supplements. Their absorption varies depending on what the magnesium is bound to. One of the worst options is Magnesium Oxide. Unfortunately, it is cheap to produce and is poorly absorbed. One of the best is Magnesium Citrate. This type of magnesium is highly bioavailable (>97%) and provides the greatest benefit. You will find this form in Adrenal Switch™.
When Should I use Magnesium?
Due to the calming and relaxing benefit magnesium has on muscles, nerves and your brain. It would make sense to have magnesium after exercise and before bed. In fact, just for the cortisol lowering ability, Magnesium is a smart supplement for exercise recovery.
Is there anything else that works well with Magnesium?
It depends on your goals. Studies have shown the combination of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6 are even more effective together than they are apart.
In fact, one study conducted in 2004 showed a reduction in muscle loss and an improvement in muscle growth with this combination.
Adrenal Switch™ combines the above 3 nutrients with L-Leucine, L-Glycine and a standardised Ashwagandha extract and L-Theanine.
This combination provides a synergy that may lower cortisol, increase testosterone, enhance recovery, reduce muscle breakdown and improve sleep.
The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods are not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone consuming prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by a qualified health care provider.
de Baaij JH, et al Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiol Rev. 2015 Jan;95(1):1-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014.
Jacka FN, et al Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study . Aust N Z J Psychiatry. (2009)
Nielsen FH, Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnes Res. 2006 Sep;19(3):180-9.
Henry C. Lukaski et al, Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses during Submaximal Exercise in Postmenopausal Women J. Nutr. May 1, 2002 - Vol. 132 no. 5 930-935
Tucker KL. Osteoporosis prevention and nutrition. Curr Osteoporos Rep 2009;7:111-7
Rubin H. Central role for magnesium in coordinate control of metabolism and growth in animal cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 1975 Sep;72(9):3551-5.
Larsson SC, et al Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis J Intern Med. 2007 Aug;262(2):208-14.
Peacock JM et al, Serum magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study Am Heart J. 2010 Sep;160(3):464-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.06.012.
S.B. Sartori et al, Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jan; 62(1): 304–312. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027
Abbasi B et al, The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9.
Kinnunen O et al, Constipation in elderly long-stay patients: its treatment by magnesium hydroxide and bulk-laxative Ann Clin Res. 1987;19(5):321-3