Magnesium: Normal Ranges and How to Measure Them

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    Many people have low magnesium levels and aren’t even aware of it. If your levels are low, there are a few minor changes you can make to change that.

    How does magnesium work in your body?

    Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for human metabolism, cell growth, protein synthesis, and the maintenance of the electrical potential in nerve and muscle cells. It assists in the activation of vitamin D, which helps to regulate calcium and phosphate homeostasis to influence the growth and maintenance of bones. All of the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium, which acts as a cofactor in the enzymatic reactions in the liver and kidneys. According to this study, magnesium helps with vitamin D absorption.

    The demand for magnesium increases during accelerated metabolic situations like exercise. It helps significantly with both muscle function and recovery, (ask any serious athlete about the relaxing and therapeutic effect of a bath in magnesium flakes after a strenuous competition or workout). It also can help with sleep. In a 2012 clinical study, 46 elderly adults were given 500mg of magnesium or a placebo at bedtime. The magnesium group experienced improvements in sleep efficiency, concentration of serum renin, cortisol, and melatonin.

    Magnesium has also been found to be helpful with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)-related headaches, one of the top PMS symptoms experienced by persons who have menstrual cycles. A 1991 double-blind, placebo controlled study of the impact of magnesium supplementation on menstrual headaches found that, after two months, both the placebo and treatment groups reported decreased pain from headaches. The magnesium group, however, also reported fewer incidences of headaches, while the placebo group did not.

    One of the functions of magnesium is regulation of blood pressure during pregnancy. In general the RDA for magnesium increases from 310-320 mg to 350- 360 mg daily. A fairly common problem that people experience during pregnancy is gestational blood pressure issues. Magnesium has been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure levels elevated due to pregnancy. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the effect of magnesium on gestational blood pressure issues, 61 pregnant people were given either magnesium or a placebo over the course of 12 weeks. Incidence of blood pressure issues related to pregnancy were significantly lower in the group receiving magnesium than in the placebo group. Higher urinary magnesium levels were also associated with lower blood pressure during the study. If you are experiencing blood pressure issues related to pregnancy or other situations, talk to your doctor to figure out the best approach.

    Why is it important to have enough magnesium?

    Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate a multitude of biochemical reactions in the body. It is involved in glucose control, the regulation of blood pressure, numerous nervous system processes, and muscle function. It also acts as an electrical conductor that contracts muscles and makes the heart beat steadily. Magnesium is essential for energy production. Approximately 60% of the magnesium in the human body is stored in the skeletal system, making it an important structural component of bones. It also accounts for up to 1% of bone ash.

    What is the recommended daily magnesium intake?

    The RDA for women aged 19-51 is between 310-320 mg.

    The RDA for all adult men is between 400-420 mg.

    The RDA for pregnant persons is between 350-360 mg throughout pregnancy, and 310- 320 mg during lactation.

    The upper limit (UL) from supplements only is 350mg. Higher doses may result in stomach distress including cramps, nausea, and diarrhea in some people. Extra magnesium from food is safe as any excess will be eliminated by the kidneys through the body’s urine.

    What are signs of a magnesium deficiency?

    Low level magnesium deficiency is not uncommon, as many people fail to eat sufficient amounts of magnesium-rich foods. These deficiencies tend to be without symptoms as the body helps to preserve magnesium when the levels are low by excreting less through urine. Earlier signs of more serious deficiencies include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As the magnesium deficiency becomes more severe, the symptoms may include numbness, tingling of skin, muscle contractions, severe muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythm.

    How can you measure your magnesium range?

    Though magnesium is an electrolyte, it is not part of the panel of electrolytes that are typically tested during routine blood work. If your physician suspects a magnesium deficiency based on symptoms, a serum blood test will be ordered. A urine test for magnesium is also available. Ask your healthcare provider which option they suggest for you. It is now fairly simple to get a general idea of your magnesium intake by tracking your food on a reputable app.

    What is a normal magnesium range?

    The normal magnesium range for adults is 1.3-2.1 mEq/L or .65-1.05 mmol/L (SI units).

    Interpretation of ranges may vary based on gender, age, body type, and overall health.

    Key takeaways

    Most people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. But this is an easy fix. Magnesium can be found in abundant quantities in nuts (almond, peanut, cashew), pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, black beans, kidney beans, cooked spinach, white potatoes with skin, oatmeal, brown rice, beef, poultry, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), bananas, yogurt, and dark chocolate. Hefty servings from this list will dramatically increase your magnesium intake in the best possible way. It is not possible to consume too much magnesium through food as the body will store its excess or secrete it through urine as necessary. If supplementation is suggested by your healthcare provider, it is important to find a premium product like Care/Of’s Magnesium The Dream Weaver.

    There are other non-dietary factors that may impact your magnesium level. Long-term alcohol use is often associated with poor nutrient absorption and a diet deficient in magnesium. The elderly population tends to have lower magnesium intake, often as a result of long-term medications for chronic conditions in conjunction with low intake of magnesium-rich foods. Regular use of diuretics, antibiotics, or proton pump inhibitors may also be a factor in low magnesium levels.

    Magnesium is essential for overall good health. So is a healthy, balanced diet. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of low magnesium, talk to your physician or healthcare provider. You may be just a pound of spinach or a high-quality supplement away from returning to optimal health.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.