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Magnesium is an essential mineral that is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It plays a role in the immune system, maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, the production of energy, regulating blood pressure, bone health and balancing blood glucose levels. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Excessive alcohol intake, diabetes, the use of PPI-drugs and certain stomach disorders can impact magnesium absorption.

Supports bone health

About 60% of the magnesium present in the body is stored in the bones (1). Because levels of magnesium in blood serum are tightly regulated, the stores in bone are believed to serve as a reservoir to maintain the serum levels. Magnesium homeostasis plays a critical role in bone health (2).

Several epidemiological studies have shown a positive correlation between dietary magnesium intake and bone mineral density and the rate of bone loss (3).

In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority Panel (EFSA) on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies concluded that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of magnesium and maintenance of normal bone (4). In a separate opinion in 2013, the EFSA Panel further stated that the role of magnesium in bone mineralization and homeostasis exists in all ages (5).

  1. Present Knowledge in Nutrition, Magnesium.

    Volpe SL, Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH., 10th ed. Ames, Iowa; John Wiley & Sons, 2012:459-74., 2012

  2. Human vitamin and mineral requirements.

    FAO/WHO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization), Human vitamin and mineral requirements. Report of a joint FAO/WHO expert consultation. Rome, Italy., 2002

  3. Dietary intake and bone mineral density.

    Angus RM, Sambrook PN, Pocock NA, Eisman JA., Bone Miner. 1988 Jul;4(3):265-77., 1988

  4. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium and electrolyte balance (ID 238), energy-yielding metabolism (ID 240, 247, 248), neurotransmission and muscle contraction including heart muscle (ID 241, 242), cell division (ID 365), maintenance of bone (ID 239), maintenance of teeth (ID 239), blood coagulation (ID 357) and protein synthesis (ID 364) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061.

    EFSA, EFSA Journal 2009; 7(9):1216., 2009

  5. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to magnesium and contribution to normal development of bone pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061

    EFSA, EFSA Journal 2013;11(7):3331., 2013

Alcohol consumption may deplete magnesium levels

Alcohol consumption and its negative effect on magnesium levels has been the subject of many studies. Heavy alcohol use is attributed to decreasing magnesium levels through an increase in urinary excretion, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as decreased intake (1, 2). According to the Centers for Disease Control, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men or consuming 8 drinks or more per week, for women.

Research indicates that alcohol consumption negatively impacts various tissues in the body and results in magnesium loss in tissues. Magnesium loss may be a predisposing factor to the onset of alcohol-induced pathologies including stroke, sarcopenia, cardiomyopathy, steatohepatitis and cirrhosis (3).

The U.S. National Institute of Health has also warned that alcohol consumption results in depleted magnesium levels and other nutrients (4).

  1. Effects of alcohol on electrolytes and minerals.

    Marsano, L., and McClain, C.J., Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):255-260, 1989, 1989

  2. Magnesium deficiency in alcoholism.

    Rink, E.B., Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 10(6):590-594, 1986

  3. Magnesium homeostasis and alcohol consumption.

    Romani, A., Magnesium research: official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium. 21. 197-204., 2008

  4. NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

    NIH No. 22 PH 346 October 1993., , 1993

Supports muscle recovery and function

Magnesium is essential for human metabolism, cell growth, protein synthesis and for maintaining the electrical potential in nerve and muscle cells (1). Of the body’s magnesium, 30–40% is found in muscles and soft tissues, 1% is found in extracellular fluid, and the remainder is in the skeleton, where it accounts for up to 1% of bone ash.

Magnesium has a well established relationship with muscle function because of its role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. Therefore, it is likely that the need for magnesium would increase during accelerated metabolic situations, like exercise. This implies that athletes potentially have higher magnesium requirements (2).

Plasma magnesium has been found to strongly affect muscle performance, such as grip strength and muscle power (2, 3). A study of male elite athletes found that magnesium intake was significantly associated with trunk flexion, trunk rotation and handgrip maximal strength. Jumping performance tests were also inversely associated with magnesium intakes (3).

Another randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted, using healthy elderly women, investigated the effect of magnesium supplementation on physical performance and muscle strength. It was found that women given 300 mg magnesium for 12 weeks significantly improved their physical performance scores, walking speed and chair stand times. These findings are significant because walking speed may be a predictor of degenerative skeletal muscle loss and chair stand time affects lower limb strength, balance and psychological aspects (4).

  1. Human Kinetics

    Benardot, D (Ed), Advanced Sports Nutrition, 2nd edition, 2012

  2. Can magnesium enhance exercise performance.

    Zhang Y, Xun P, Wang R, Mao L., Nutrients, 2017

  3. Magnesium intake is associated with strength performance in elite basketball, handball and volleyball players

    Santos D, Matias C, Monteiro C, Silva A. , Magnesium Research, 2011

  4. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial.

    Veronese N, Berton L, Carraro S, Bolzetta F, Rui M. , AJCN, 2014