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Don’t Stress Out About An Easy Choice: 5 Reasons to Reconsider Your Magnesium Intake

March 8, 2019 • 2 min read

Magnesium is an essential nutrient, but half of the United States population does not get enough magnesium for good health.

Magnesium is an essential nutrient, but half of the United States population does not get enough magnesium for good health. Below 5 reasons to reconsider magnesium intake are explained.

1. There is a 50-50 chance you are not getting enough magnesium on a regular basis.

In the United States, half of the population does not get enough magnesium for good health.

Recommended Daily Allowance Average Actual Intake1 Average Mg Gap
400-420 mg (males 19-51+) 350 mg 50-70 mg
310-320 mg (females 19-51) 260 mg 50-60 mg

Recommended daily allowance levels increase for females during pregnancy.

2. Magnesium matters – it is an essential nutrient.

Magnesium is an important piece of the puzzle for a variety of enzymatic reactions in the body. These reactions provide a foundation for health. Magnesium is also vital for making proteins, producing energy, and building important bodily components like DNA and RNA.2,3

Magnesium deficiency is associated with many health issues, like:

  • Unhealthy stress response
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Management of blood sugar levels
  • Mood (feeling down and anxious)4
  • Fatigue

Magnesium sufficiency is associated with many health benefits, like:

  • Reduced stress and better mood5,6
  • Increased fat-free mass 7,8
  • Improved bone health
  • Balance and stabilize systems health

3. An easy way to make sure you get the Mg that you need.

There are a couple of reasons that nearly half of the U.S. population does not get enough magnesium. First, American dietary choices rely heavily on processed food (magnesium-poor) over natural, plant-based food (magnesium-rich).

For those who do eat enough plant-based foods, the nutrient density of these foods is not what it used to be. Changes in the soil (acidification, mineral depletion) and modern cultivation practices (selective breeding, chemical fertilizers) have promoted a trend of decreased nutrient content in plant foods – not just magnesium, but multiple nutrients.9

A third issue is magnesium absorption. About 25 to 75 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed – specific absorption rate depends on an individual’s magnesium status, gastrointestinal (GI) health and dose.10 Maximum absorption of magnesium is seen up to a dose of about 123 mg. Any additional amount of magnesium above this dose would see a minimal absorption rate, around seven percent. This absorption rate creates a clear divide between whole food magnesium supplements (usually contains a modest dose of about 30 to 80 mg) and synthetic magnesium supplements (usually given at a relatively high dose of about 300 mg and above).

4. More is not better.

Above a certain threshold dose of magnesium (200-500 mg), adverse events like gastric distress (bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and pain) may occur. The range at which GI issues can occur varies depending on the form of magnesium and a person’s individual GI health. At high doses of magnesium, the percent of magnesium not absorbed increases the potential of GI side effects. It is also important to note that various GI conditions decrease the percent of magnesium absorption.

5. Whole food form matters – there is a superior source of magnesium.

Whole foods like vegetables (beets, buckwheat, spinach, kale, parsley, potatoes), fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole-grain cereals provide a rich source of magnesium. Combining whole food nutrition with whole food-based magnesium supplementation enables people deficient in magnesium to achieve a healthier magnesium status, and overall health status.

The bottom line? Nutrition therapy with whole food magnesium mimics the way the nutrient appears in nature (bound to various organic and inorganic compounds such as other minerals, proteins, and peptides) and maximizes the health benefits of improving magnesium status.


Mg Form Antioxidant & Health Inflammatory Response Support from Polyphenols Delivery to Central Nervous System (CNS) Fills Total Body Unmet Mg Need
Whole Food ++++ (+++) ++++ (++) ++++ (+++)
Mg Lactate Ø (Ø) + (Ø) ++ (+)
Mg Oxide Ø (Ø) + (Ø) ++ (+)
Mg Threonate Ø (Ø) +++ (++) ++ (+)
Mg Citrate Ø (Ø) + (Ø) ++ (+)

(People with unhealthy GI system)

Dose and Form-dependent Risk for Mg-Mediated GI Side Effects

Mg Form At low dose (i.e. 30-120 mg) At high dose (> 200 mg)
Whole Food Very Low Not Applicable
Mg Lactate Low High
Mg Oxide Low High
Mg Threonate Low Moderate
Mg Citrate Low Moderate


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  1. Moshfegh, A., Goldman, J., Ahuja, J., Rhodes, D., LaComb, R. (2009). What we eat in America, NHANES 2005-2006: Usual nutrient intakes from food and water compared to 1997 dietary reference intakes for vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  2. Rosique-Esteban, N., Guasch-Ferre, M., Hernandez-Alonso, P., Salas-Salvado, J. (2018). Dietary magnesium and cardiovascular disease: A review with emphasis in epidemiological studies. Nutrients, 10(2).
  3. Elin, R.J. (2010). Assessment of magnesium status for diagnosis and therapy. Magnes Res, 23(4):S194-198.
  4. Volpe, S.L. (2013). Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr, 4(3):378S-383S.
  5. Szkup, M., Jurczak, A., Brodowska, A., et al. (2017). Analysis of relations between the level of Mg, Zn, Ca, Cu, and Fe and depressiveness in postmenopausal women. Biol Trace Elem Res, 176(1):56-63.
  6. Rajizadeh, A., Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., Yassini-Ardakani, M., Dehghani, A. (2017). Effect of magnesium supplementation on depression status in depressed patients with magnesium deficiency: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition, 35:56-60.
  7. Hayhoe, R.P.G., Lentjes, M.A.H., Mulligan, A.A., Luben, R.N., Khaw, K.T., Welch, A.A. (2018). Cross-sectional associations of dietary and circulating magnesium with skeletal muscle mass in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. Clin Nutr.
  8. Guo, W., Nazim, H., Liang, Z., et al. (2016). Magnesium deficiency in plants: an urgent problem. Crop J, 4:83-91.
  9. Jahnen-Dechent, W., Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney J, 5(Suppl 1):i3-i14.

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