Magnesium is an essential mineral required for a range of biochemical activities in the human body. These include protein production, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and bone development (National Health and Medical Research Council 2006).
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant ion in the human body, with a distribution of 50% in bones, 49% intracellularly in all body organs, and 1% in blood serum (Bichara & Goldman, 2009).
Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in your body, including:
- Energy creation: Helps convert food into energy.
- Protein formation: Helps create new proteins from amino acids.
- Gene maintenance: Helps create and repair DNA and RNA.
- Muscle movements: Is part of the contraction and relaxation of muscles-helping to reduce muscle cramps
- Nervous system regulation: Helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system (Zhu et al. 2017, p. 335).
The recommended daily intake of magnesium can be found below (National Institute of Health 2018):
Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium 
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
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
According to the Australian bureau of statistics, in 2011-12, one in three people aged two years and over (37% of males and 34% of females) did not meet their requirements for magnesium.
Causes of magnesium deficiency:
There are many causes for magnesium deficiency and they include:
- Poor soil quality and farming practices (lowering magnesium in food (Yasui et al, 1991)
- Not eating enough magnesium rich foods (Magnesium rich foods include: dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, whole grains, avocados, and bananas)
- Impaired absorption (which can be caused by gastrointestinal tract problems or genetic abnormalities)
- Increased excretion by the body (caused by laxatives, genetic abnormalities, alcohol, acidosis and diuretics)
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (e.g., stroke), insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes mellitus, migraine headaches, and ADHD (Grober et al. 2015).
Magnesium for asthmatics:
Magnesium helps to relax all muscle types especially your smooth muscle. Smooth muscle is located in the stomach, blood vessels, intestines, gallbladder and bronchial tubes (airways to the lungs).
Studies have been undertaken to see if magnesium administered intravenously, could help with settling an asthma attack accompanied by standard low dose steroids. In a meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials, intravenous magnesium sulfate treatment coupled with steroids, was associated with a significant improvement of respiratory function in both adults and children with a longer lasting effect- compared to standard steroid use (Shan et al. 2013).
Magnesium and its anti-inflammatory properties:
The scientific community have been looking into the benefits of magnesium as an anti-inflammatory. A meta-analysis carried out in 2017, explored the effects that magnesium has on C-reactive protein (CRP) a molecule produced by the liver. CRP is known to be involved in the inflammatory processes. Results of the meta-analysis indicated that magnesium supplementation reduces CRP. This finding suggests that magnesium supplements may have a beneficial role as an adjuvant for the management of low-grade chronic systemic inflammation.
These positive results suggest that magnesium supplementation may offer therapeutic potential for fighting inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases in the future (Luis et al, 2017).
If you are in doubt over your magnesium levels, see a qualified healthcare practitioner such as your GP, naturopath or nutritionist who can look at possible signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency and trigger factors, such as high stress levels or a diet low in magnesium.
Overall it is best to get our vitamins and minerals from our food and water alone. Some find that a supplemental form is more convenient. Those that have sensitivity to oral supplements can use a magnesium spray or oil directly onto the skin. Epsom salt baths or foot soaks are also a great addition.
Please note this article is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Several types of medications and pathologies have the potential to interact with magnesium supplements or affect magnesium status.
Therefore, it is paramount that you discuss the effect magnesium supplements or changes to diet may have on any pre-existing conditions and/or medications you may be taking. Your doctor may also help determine a dose that is right for you.
National Institute of Health:
Ancient Minerals Website:
Magnesium and cardiovascular disease
ATP Project podcast: episode 155- Magnesium Clinical Guide
An article by Esther Malone, Elite Myotherapist.