Woman jogging on boardwalk using magnesium supplement for whole body health

12 Health Benefits of Magnesium Supplements

Published: December 2021

Magnesium helps over 300 enzymes perform critical functions throughout the body, resulting in a range of biological benefits—and unfortunately, research shows that most people do not get enough of it from their diet.

Part of this is because of soil quality. Due to fertilization practices in the last 60-70 years, magnesium in wheat has declined by 19.6%. In addition, in many locations, drinking water may be processed in a way that depletes its mineral content.

It’s for these reasons that it’s imperative that we supplement with magnesium. There’s so much magnesium can do for your health; here we will describe the top 12 science-based benefits.

1. Keep the beat on a healthy heart

Magnesium benefits your heart in many ways—most notably, this mineral is involved in the electrical stimulation that maintains our heartbeats. Because of this, research has also found that supplementation can help support a healthy degree of variations in sequences of heartbeats, otherwise referred to as our “heart rate variability.” You might be thinking you shouldn’t have any variations in your heartbeat. People mistakenly assume your heart should beat like a metronome (i.e., steady and consistent), but in fact, a healthy heart will have some amount of variation.

2. Maintain already-healthy blood pressure

Much like a slight counterclockwise turn on a spigot attached to a hose with too much water pressure, magnesium helps your blood vessels relax, supporting your body’s ability to maintain blood pressure within already-healthy ranges. This relationship between magnesium and healthy blood pressure was confirmed by a meta-analysis, which calculated combined results from 34 clinical trials totaling more than 2,000 subjects.

3. Sharpen your brain

Woman working on laptop with magnesium supported brain health

Magnesium helps support neuroplasticity, which includes the ability to form new connections related to learning and memory. The predicament is that most forms of magnesium are not readily utilized by the brain. It is for these reasons that scientists at MIT  developed a specific form of magnesium called magnesium L-threonate, which has a higher brain magnesium loading ability.

In a randomized-controlled trial, 12 weeks of magnesium-L-threonate supplementation was associated with a 20% increased speed in tests of executive function (reasoning, problem-solving, and planning), whereas the placebo group was unchanged.

4. Head off head cavity discomfort

Occasional head discomfort can be a drag—it’s hard to focus and be productive when you’re dealing with those discomforts we can all get from time to time. Fortunately, getting adequate levels of magnesium can “head off” these problems. Taking 500 mg of magnesium every 12 hours for 8 weeks resulted in less days and hours with head cavity discomfort compared to baseline.

5. Promote bone health

Many people only think of calcium when it comes to bone health; however, one half to two-thirds of the body’s total magnesium content is stored in the bones. Getting enough magnesium is highly correlated with strong, dense bones. Without magnesium, supplementing with calcium alone won’t do much good as magnesium plays a role in both absorption and metabolism of calcium.

6. Maintain glucose levels already within the normal range

Magnesium has a well-established relationship with glucose and insulin. Results from a clinical trial on 40 participants show that 250 mg of magnesium daily was enough to promote already-healthy levels of hemoglobin A1C compared to the placebo group. Hemoglobin A1c is an important biomarker that reflects a three-month average of glucose levels.

7. Promotes pancreatic health

It’s not surprising that magnesium supports the health of the pancreas. After all, it is the organ that secretes insulin and research shows magnesium supports a healthy insulin response.

8. Get an edge on your esophageal health

Minerals in their carbonate forms (magnesium/calcium/potassium carbonate) are commonly used to help protect your esophageal tissue from harsh stomach acids. Life Extension® offers an esophageal health supplement containing carbonate minerals such as magnesium carbonate in addition to a licorice extract (DGL), to support a comfortable, healthy esophagus.

9. Shrug off stress

Having adequate levels of magnesium is correlated with better stress management, according to research—and multiple studies have found that magnesium can modulate the activity of the body’s stress response. One interesting study that stimulated a stress response found that when subjects’ adrenaline increased, plasma magnesium concentrations were found to decrease significantly.

10. Dream of a better night’s sleep

Magnesium can be supportive of quality sleep and complement the effects of other supplements such as melatonin. Some evidence also suggests that magnesium plays a role in maintaining your 24-hour sleep wake cycle called your circadian rhythm or your “internal clock.” A good circadian rhythm will help you get to sleep and awake at a regular and healthy rate.

11. Magnesium can support your mood

Magnesium works on several neurotransmitter pathways associated with mood such as supporting healthy levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter. In a randomized clinical trial, 500 mg of magnesium taken daily for 6 weeks supported a healthy mood compared to placebo.  

12. Powerful connection with vitamin D

Vitamin D obtained from supplements, food, or sunlight is inactive. To reach its active form, so that it can best benefit the body, we need specific enzymes which are dependent on magnesium. Not only that, but magnesium also enables vitamin D to bind to carrier proteins so that it can be transported throughout the blood.

Man with chalk question marks around head thinking about magnesium

Q&A: FAQs about magnesium supplements

Here are some of the more common questions we get about magnesium—and the answers from Life Extension's very own Director of Education, Michael A. Smith, M.D.

Q. How much magnesium should I take?

A. The best way to make sure is by taking a magnesium RBC test; however, most people just need 500-1,500 mg per day.

Q. When is it best to take magnesium supplements?

A. Magnesium can be taken at any time of the day. Take magnesium close to bedtime if your goal is to support your sleep.

Q. Types of magnesium supplements… which one is best?

A. Magnesium is available in variety of different forms such as magnesium oxide, citrate, or succinate. There is a lot of debate on the internet as to which form of magnesium is more bioavailable, especially between magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate; many claim citrate is superior because of urinary excretion studies, which show more magnesium is present in the urine when magnesium citrate is taken. That being said, we believe it’s more important to assess magnesium concentrations in red blood cells (or epithelial cells), and studies that look at these concentrations conclude that the different forms of magnesium are largely irrelevant.

The type of magnesium matters when you have a specific health goal in mind. Magnesium-L-threonate is more bioavailable in the brain. Forms like magnesium glycinate may be better for stress and sleep since the magnesium is bound to the amino acid glycine which is also a calming neurotransmitter.

Q. What are the benefits of time-released magnesium supplements?

A. Magnesium comes in quick release and extended-release forms. An extended-release magnesium is released more slowly and has a greater effect at raising peripheral magnesium levels. For those who wish to achieve greater benefits from magnesium, utilizing a supplement that has immediate and extended release delivery is the way to go!

Q. What are common side effects of magnesium supplements?

A. Magnesium is generally well tolerated; however, it may have a laxative effect at high dosages. If this happens to you, you can try dividing your doses throughout the day, taking less, or trying different forms. For those with occasional constipation, Life Extension® offers a magnesium-vitamin C formula specifically formulated for this reason.

References

  • Dibaba, Daniel et al. “Magnesium intake and incidence of pancreatic cancer: the VITamins and Lifestyle study.” British journal of cancer, November 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26554653/
  • ELDerawi, Wafaa A et al. “The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients.” Nutrients, December 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30587761/
  • Guo, Wanli et al. “Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem.” The Crop Journal, 2016, https://core.ac.uk/reader/81931000
  • Karimi, Narges et al. The efficacy of magnesium oxide and sodium valproate in prevention of migraine headache: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover study.” Acta Neurologica Belgica, February 2021, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30798472/
  • Liu, Guosong et al. “Efficacy and Safety of MMFS-01, a Synapse Density Enhancer, for Treating Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.”  J Alzheimers Dis., 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26519439/
  • Matsuzaki, Hiroshi. [Prevention of osteoporosis by foods and dietary supplements. Magnesium and bone metabolism]. Clinical calcium, October 2006, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17012818/
  • Pickering, Gisèle et al. “Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited.” Nutrients, November 2020, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33260549/
  • Rondanelli, Mariangela et al. “The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical tria.”l Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, January 2011, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21226679/
  • Wannamethee, Sasiwarang Goya et al. “Serum magnesium and risk of incident heart failure in older men: The British Regional Heart Study.” European Journal of Epidemiology, April 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6133024/
  • Wienecke, Elmar et al. [Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake]. MMW Fortschritte der Medizin, December 2016,  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27933574/
  • Yu, Xin et al. “By suppressing the expression of anterior pharynx-defective-1α and -1β and inhibiting the aggregation of β-amyloid protein, magnesium ions inhibit the cognitive decline of amyloid precursor protein/presenilin 1 transgenic mice.” FASEB Journal, December 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26293690/
  • Zhang, Xi et al. “Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials.” Hypertension, August 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27402922/
  • Tarleton, Emily K et al. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PloS one vol. 12,6 e0180067. 27 Jun. 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28654669/
  • Oregon State University. Vitamin D. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-D
  • Rosanoff, Andrea et al. Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Status Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium Status? Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 7,1 25-43. 15 Jan. 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26773013/

By: Chancellor Faloon, Health & Wellness Author

Chancellor Faloon is a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. He is dedicated to disseminating guidance on achieving better health and wellness. He has had various roles in the company, but scientific writing has always been his top priority. Chance has also raced in multiple full and half marathons.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD