Important things to know about magnesium

  • It regulates energy production in the body. This is why magnesium deficiency plays such an important role in fatigue. It helps with the conversion of glucose and fat to energy in the mitochondria. The ATP we produce, that is the energy currency of our body is attached to magnesium.

As I work on my online nutrition programme, I thought I would share some of the information about vitamins and minerals over the next few weeks. I hope this is helpful.

I decided to start with magnesium, because this is an essential mineral with thousands of important functions in the body.

  • It’s an electrolyte and plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the nervous system. The nervous system and brain are electrical systems and electrolytes help these run properly. Magnesium also important for production of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin and acetyl-choline.
  • It’s essential to produce protein – all our body systems run on proteins. I talk a lot about getting enough amino acids from good quality proteins in our diet. Without magnesium, we can’t convert those amino acids into the proteins our body needs to function.
  • It regulates sex hormone production. For women, we can’t make progesterone without it, and we can’t metabolise and detoxify estrogen properly. For men, magnesium is very important in testosterone production.
  • It’s essential for the activation of vitamin D. I will talk about vitamin D in a future post – but supplemental vitamin D is common now, with everyone advised to take it. However, despite how essential it is for good health; supplements are not necessarily the answer. It depends on what else is going on. If you’re worried about your vitamin D status, make sure you check your magnesium levels.

Magnesium and stress

One of the most important roles for magnesium is when we are under stress. It doesn’t matter whether the cause is emotional or physiological such as poor diet, environmental toxins, pain and injury or pharmaceuticals and drugs. These all activate the adrenal response system, dramatically increasing the demand for magnesium. If you’re living with chronic stress, then magnesium will be shuttled away from other body systems and used up dealing with stress.

Food sources

Food sources of magnesium include red meat, fish and green leafy vegetables. Remember some food deplete magnesium, the worst of these is sugar and other refined processed foods. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation increase the demand for magnesium and cannot be absorbed properly without adequate magnesium.

Medications and magnesium

Medications that cause magnesium deficiency include blood pressure medications, painkillers, birth control pills and HRT. Reflux medication reduces the ability of magnesium to be absorbed in the intestines.


There are a lot of different magnesium supplements on the market, and they aren’t all created equal. Make sure you check for other vitamins and minerals in any supplement you take. Many people are unintentionally supplementing with synthetic forms of calcium, vitamin D, iron and folic acid because these are often included in magnesium supplements.

I have a personal preference for magnesium glycinate. This is easy on the stomach and helps restore magnesium levels quite well. Sometimes mixing and matching different forms can be helpful. Magnesium citrate is good for improving constipation. Malate can be helpful in the morning to improve energy. Magnesium Threonate can be helpful in improving mood as this can cross the blood brain barrier.

Magnesium testing

The best test we have available for magnesium is red blood cell; called RBC magnesium. Remember the lab ranges are very broad and may not identify a deficiency. You want you results to come back closer to the top end of the range. Serum magnesium doesn’t tell you what’s in the cell and isn’t a true reflection of your magnesium stores. If this is all your doctor will order, look for levels near the top end of range.

Muscle twitches and cramps are an indication you may be magnesium deficient. It’s also worth checking when you have high blood pressure as it plays an important regulatory component in blood pressure. If you have any of the issues described above, it may be worth thinking about your magnesium levels.

Please let me know if this is helpful and share with friends and family.

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