The Power of Magnesium

Magnesium is the ninth most abundant mineral in the universe, the fourth most common on earth, and the eleventh most common in the human body.

Its name is derived from the Magnesia district in Thessaly, Greece, where magnetite and manganese have been found.

In the human body, 60% of all magnesium resides in the bones and 39% within the cells.

Magnesium, like calcium and potassium, is an electrolyte involved in the maintenance of the heart's normal rhythm. The mineral is needed for the proper function of cells and organs.

Magnesium Prevents Heart Problems and Diabetes

One of the most important roles of magnesium is that of protecting the heart. There is a higher amount of cardiac deaths in areas of the country which contain low levels of magnesium in drinking water. Although this has been long-observed, the heart benefits of magnesium continue to be ignored.

In a trial called the Nurses' Health Study, women whose dietary intake of magnesium was high were found to have a 34% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those with the lowest intake.

In a different study, low urinary levels of magnesium were linked to a greater risk of ischemic heart disease.2

And in a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, greater magnesium intake was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.3

Magnesium May Help You Live Longer

Magnesium has also been linked to a longer life.

In 2006, the journal Epidemiology uncovered a 40% lower risk of dying from any cause in men whose magnesium levels were highest in comparison with the lowest group.4

A study published in 2014 documented a 34% lower risk of all-cause death in men and women with higher intake.5

How to Get More Magnesium

Magnesium is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound that gives plants their green color, making leafy vegetables a good dietary source. Nuts, grains, coffee, tea and cocoa are also good sources.

Although the US RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for magnesium is 420 mg per day for men and 320 mg for women, most Americans ingest about 270 mg of magnesium daily, making supplementation a popular option.

Due to a potential laxative effect, magnesium is best taken in divided doses. If diarrhea results from increased intake, reduce or divide the dosage.

Magnesium can also be used topically. Its potential was discovered in Epsom, England in 1618, when a farmer noticed that water from a particular well helped to heal scratches and rashes. The water was later found to be high in magnesium, giving rise to the popular "Epsom salts."

While the kidneys excrete excess magnesium, individuals with kidney failure may need to avoid excessive amounts.


  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):253-60. 
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;97(6):1299-306. 
  3. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Apr;29(2):99-106. 
  4. Epidemiology. 2006 May;17(3):308-14.  
  5. J Nutr. 2014 Jan;144(1):55-60.


Anonymous said...

So how much is too much? If the RDA is 320 for women, which is the amount minimally needed to live, how much is better? I've read you need boron to absorb magnesium, and that it is best taken in proper proportions to calcium, potassium and phosphorous as well. Comments?

Life Extension said...

Anonymous- The dosage you take may depend on your health concerns and goals. We typically suggest individuals take at least 400mg of magnesium daily. Just keep in mind that higher doses of magnesium may cause a laxative effect in some individuals. It is not an absolute requirement to take calcium with magnesium, although the two minerals balance each other, and each mineral has an important role in the body. Some prefer to take a 2:1 ratio of these minerals: taking twice as much calcium as magnesium.

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