couple's exerciseAccording to Kelly Brogan MD (New York Times bestselling author of ‘A Mind of Your Own’) magnesium is considered one of the most beneficial supplements available, providing relief from ailments such as PMS, poor thyroid function, and depression.

Interestingly, magnesium is an essential mineral used in over 350 biochemical processes and binds with 3,751 human proteins. It’s integral for a variety of important processes such as the conversion of energy from carbohydrates, fats and protein, not to mention healthy DNA synthesis, blood sugar balance, bone health and a calm nervous system.1 That said, human blood can only store 1% of magnesium which is why it generally doesn’t show up in blood tests This makes magnesium deficiency difficult to diagnose.

What we do know however, is that magnesium is a mineral that our bodies rely on to feel fit, healthy and full of vitality.

Brogan discusses how magnesium may be a rapidly effective intervention for depression, due to its role in regulating neuronal and thyroid function. 2 Additionally the author outlines how magnesium may offer critical help for those struggling with PMS, including premenstrual migraines, irritability, low mood, and cramps. With studies demonstrating that women supplemented with a conservative dose of 250mg of magnesium daily for three months, 34% experienced relief of PMS. Similarly, by the second month of treatment with magnesium, women with PMS experienced improvement in mood and pain in a randomized, controlled trial. While positive results weren’t seen across the board, it makes for an interesting preliminary study. 3

It is suggested that low intakes of magnesium in the short term won’t result in any noticeable symptoms as our kidneys conserve magnesium when intakes are low however, low intakes over extended periods can lead you to become deficient. When this occurs, we can experience an array of negative symptoms, mostly to do with energy levels because magnesium is involved in helping to regulate calcium, vitamin D, blood sugar and hormonal balance. Low magnesium levels can lead to chronic fatigue-type symptoms, low mood, anxiety, eye tics, insomnia, high blood pressure, muscle cramps (which can be due to low calcium too) and a poor tolerance to dealing with stress.


Symptoms of magnesium deficiency4

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased tolerance for exercise
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tension, pain, cramps, spasms, or twitches
  • Nighttime leg cramps
  • Asthma
  • PMS
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Insomnia
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic bacterial or fungal infections
  • High C-reactive protein levels (a marker of chronic inflammation)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Chest pain (angina)


7 Suggested Benefits of Adding Magnesium-Rich Foods to Your Diet:

Here’s a brief summary of just some of the research available on magnesium and how deficiencies may impact our health.

1. May Result in Less Migraines.

In a study of 133 migraine patients supplemented with 500 mg of magnesium oxide for 12 weeks, patients showed significant improvement with decreased frequency and severity of migraines. This study demonstrated that magnesium supplementation had a significant effect on all migraine indicators.5

And a double blind, placebo controlled study showed that supplementing with magnesium significantly cut the number of days children suffered with a migraine.6

2. Potential Decrease in Heart Disease and other Ailments.

A study in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that people with low magnesium levels increased their likelihood of dying of heart disease. Worse, they were also seven times more likely to die from all other causes.7

3. May Improve Blood Sugar Levels.

Magnesium deficiency is commonly found among patients with type 2 diabetics.8 A Harvard study found that patients taking 320 mg of magnesium for up to 16 weeks significantly improved their fasting blood sugar levels and HDL (good) cholesterol.9

4. May Ease Pain Symptoms.

A double blind, placebo controlled study from the University of Texas showed that magnesium malate helped to reduce pain and tenderness in fibromyalgia patients.10

5. Associated with Lower Risk of Colon Cancer.

Epidemiologic studies by Chinese researchers show that there is a potential link between low intake of magnesium and increased risk of colorectal and colon cancer.

Their results, taken from analyzing eight prospective studies and having a total of 338,979 participants, were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It showed those taking the most magnesium had a decreased risk of colorectal cancer by 11%.11

They also observed that an increase of 50 mg per day was associated with a 7% decrease in colon cancer risk. Earlier meta-analysis by the Imperial College of London and Wageningen University affirmed the same by showing a decrease of 13% colon cancer risk for every 100mg increase of magnesium.12

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash6. Appears to strengthen bones.

One study found a significant association between bone density and magnesium levels.13 Magnesium contributes to bone strength14 and even stimulates the hormone calcitonin which helps restore calcium from the blood and other tissues back into the bones. Excess calcium outside bones increase the risk of arthritis, heart attack, kidney stones, and osteoporosis.15

Magnesium found in bones decreases as we age and sugar and alcohol increase the unwanted excretion of magnesium.

7. May Reduce Signs of Metabolic Syndrome.

Mexican researchers published a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in the Archives of Medical Research showing that the MONW trial group receiving 382mg of oral magnesium daily showed a significant decrease in the signs of metabolic syndrome after only 4 months.16


How much Magnesium is Recommended?

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. One US study showed that 20% of women don’t even get to half the recommended amount.17

According to Kelly Brogan MD many women benefit from doses of magnesium in the 5-800mg range.


dark chocolateWhat are Good Food sources for Magnesium?

Magnesium deficiency can be treated with food. One great source of magnesium is dark chocolate. (YEH!!! Such good news) A high quality 100 gm bar of dark chocolate would contain around 170 mg of magnesium. Craving for chocolate? Your body may be telling you that you need more magnesium.


Magnesium rich foods

Foods High in Magnesium include:

Other Food Sources of Magnesium:

  • Fruit (figs, avocado, banana and raspberries)
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans)
  • Vegetables (peas, green beans, artichokes)
  • Seafood (salmon, mackerel, tuna)
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Tofu
  • Baked beans



What Might Also Contribute to Lower Magnesium Levels?

  • A high fiber diet lessens magnesium absorption
  • Diuretics
  • Antibiotics
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Laxatives
  • Proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux.


Supplement Advice

When food sources aren’t available, you can take Magnesium supplements. They are available in: oxide, citrate, carbonate, aspartate, and lactate but the cheapest and most difficult to absorb is Magnesium oxide.

Note that Magnesium citrate has laxative properties while Magnesium glycinate does not.

Speak to a registered health practitioner for a magnesium supplement that is right for you






For more information about good nutrition, particularly during pregnancy, please take a look at our Good Nutrition For You & Your Baby eBook

Author: Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani

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