Supplementing your knowledge – Magnesium

Supplements can play key roles in various aspects of your health. However, with so many out there, it can be hard to choose the right ones for you. With that in mind, we’re breaking down different supplements to help you get the most out of them.

Usually, something described as “a silvery-white metal that ignites easily in air and burns with a bright light” is not something you want to put in the body.

Yet, that same mineral – magnesium – is quite essential to your body. Here’s a look at why.

Magnesium basics

Magnesium is considered an essential mineral and is found in every cell in your body.

About 60% of the magnesium in your body resides in your bones, while the rest is in muscles, soft tissues, and fluids, including blood.

One of its main roles is to act as a cofactor — a helper molecule — in the biochemical reactions continuously performed by enzymes. It’s involved in more than 600 reactions in your body, including:

  • Energy creation: converting food into energy
  • Protein formation: creating new proteins from amino acids
  • Gene maintenance: helping create and repair DNA and RNA
  • Muscle movements: aiding in muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Nervous system regulation: regulating neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system

It seems pretty important, right? Unfortunately, studies suggest approximately 50% of U.S. adults get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Luckily, low magnesium levels in the body usually don’t cause symptoms (and neither is your magnesium being too high). However, chronically low levels can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.


Unless your doctor says you need it, going and buying magnesium supplements probably won’t be necessary for you.

Again, having too high or low magnesium levels doesn’t really have adverse effects. A decent multivitamin (which you hopefully are already taking) will give you the 350 mg/day you may be lacking. Beyond that, even a few servings of magnesium-rich foods a day can meet your need for this important nutrient.

Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, leafy vegetables, milk, yogurt, and fortified foods are good sources of magnesium. For example, just 1 ounce of almonds contains 20% of the daily magnesium you need. Heck, even water (tap, mineral, or bottled) can provide magnesium.

That said, there are those out there who say taking magnesium supplements can help you get more and better sleep, which is always beneficial. But, of course, a recent review of studies published in April 2021 in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies journal concluded: “there isn’t enough evidence to recommend magnesium for insomnia in older adults.” The same goes for magnesium combating anxiety, as studies vary on its effectiveness.

A big reason for the lack of evidence is the sheer number of types of supplements on the market. You can currently buy supplements containing magnesium sulfate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium lactate, magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium L-threonate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium oxide. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough research yet to determine which, if any, are best for sleep or anxiety.

So, it’s probably best to keep it simple with magnesium. Eat healthy and take your multivitamin, and there’s no need to stress.