The role of magnesium in the body

Every cell, every organ, especially the heart, the muscles and kidneys need the mineral magnesium. Magnesium regulates the heart rhythm and blood pressure.

Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body:

  • Energy creation: helps convert food into energy
  • Protein formation: helps create new proteins from amino acids
  • Gene maintenance: helps create and repair DNA and RNA
  • Muscle movements: is part of contraction and relaxation of the muscles
  • Nervous system regulation: helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.

Magnesium helps reduce tiredness

Tiredness is a state of body and mind by which a person feels less capable of undertaking activities and feels sleepy. Tiredness is a general result of heavy physical exercise or mental exertion, or when the person didn't have enough sleep for a longer period. Tirendess can however also be a symptom of a physical or mental condition. When a person is quickly tired in combination with other complaints, such as the sensation of feeling unease in the body, muscle tirendess, dizziness, this can mean you have chronic fatigue. A role of magnesium is to convert glucose in food into energy. When you are lacking magnesium, this process is disturbed.

Magnesium helps to keep your teeth and bones healthy

Normal teeth and bones are strong and tough. Magnesium helps to keep it this way and prevents breaking bones or teeth. Magnesium helps to keep your electrolytes/minerals in your body in balance. When our minerals are seriously out of balance, this can result teeth sensitivity, weak bones, heart complaints and neurological symptoms.

Magnesium regulates a normal functioning of the nerve system

The brain, spine and the nerves in the other parts of the body form the nerve system. The nerve system takes care of the connections of the different brain parts, and between the brain and the rest of the body. The nerve system plays a coordinating role by many actions, like controlling the muscles, processing sensory stimuli and emotional and mental processes. Magnesium plays an essential role in nerve transmission. It also protectes our cells against excessive stimulation that can lead to neuronal cell death.

Magnesium boost exercise performance

During exercise, you need more magnesium than when you're resting. The most important muscle, the heart muscle needs magnesium to get the electric impulse to make a beat. Every muscle has a unique function, and they all need magnesium to work well. Magnesium helps blood sugar move into muscles and dispose lactate. When this lactate is not disposed well, it builds up and will cause fatigue.

Magnesium copes with stress - the "anti-stress mineral"

Under stress, the body produces cortisol and adrenalin. When under stress, your cells in your body use up more magnesium. When the body lacks magnesium, the nerve system will become out of balance. This can result in muscle tension, narrowing of blood vessels and high blood pressure. Magnesium damp the stress-hormones and regulate the nerve functions. In other words: "magnesium reduces stress".

Magnesium aids mental disorders

Magnesium plays a critical role in brain function and mood. Low levels of magnesium are linked to an increased risk several mental disorders, such as depression.

It has anti-inflammatory benefits

Inflammation is a biological response to harmful stimuli, pathogens, damaged cells or iritiants. Magnesium helps to cope with inflammations

Magnesium protects against heavy metals

Heavy metals that are most common in the human body are lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. Heavy metal poisening may occur as a result of industrial exposures, traffic gases, air or water pollution, medicines, improperly coated food containers, metal tooth implants etc. Long-term exposure to heavy metals may lead to muscular phsyical and neurological degenerative processes. Magnesium plays a role in protecting us against these heavy metals and chemical materials in our body. Almost every cell in our body has the important antioxidant: "glutathion". This antioxidant is important to protecting and breaking down toxic materials, such as smoke, radition, chemotherapy, alcohol etc. When we have a shortage of magnesium, glutathion can't do its work as good anymore. Magnesium is fuel for glutathion to function well.

Adequate levels of magensiums are essental for sleep and stress management. Magnesium helps your brain to produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress. Magnesium also helps your body to produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Signs of magnesium shortage

A magnesium shortage can result in a variety of symptoms, ranging from fatigue, cramps, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis (weak bones), as we have discussed above. Studies show that over half of the world population has a magnesium deficiency. Common symptoms are:

  • Muscle twiches and cramps - think about a moving eye lid.
  • Mental disorders - as we need magnesium to let our nerve system operate properly
  • Osteoporosis - this also hangs together with poor intake of Vitamine D and lack of exercise. Magnesium deficiency lowers the blood levels of calcium, which are the main building blocks of bones
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness - a loss of potassium may cause weakness in the muscles. When lacking magnesium, potassium levels are also likely to decrease in the blood
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Spasms
  • Seizures - a seizure is an uncontrolled electical disturbance of the brain

Sources of magnesium


Magnesium occurs naturally in many different foods, such as:

  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Cacao
  • Wheat
  • Cereal products
  • Shellfish
  • Vegetables, especially dark green ones
  • Meat (especially beef, calf, lamb, sheep, goat and horse)
  • Milk, cheese
  • Beans
  • Dried fruits
  • Seaweed
  • Fish(especially mackerel and halibut)
  • Authentic unrefined salt(e.g. Himalaya salt, keltic sea salt)
  • Water

Why take supplements?

Nowadays we are taking more from the earth as we give back. Human activity has thoroughly disrupted Earth's natural nutrient cycles. The soil got degraded. The vegetables we plant in the soil nowadays has less vitamines and minerals as it used to have. The soil is often lacking the following minerals: "nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium and potassium". To make sure our bodies have the magnesium we need to function well and be healthy, supplementing with magnesium could be a good option.

How much do I need to supplement?

Under stress we need more magnesium. Magnesium is also called the "stress-mineral". Stress depletes our magnesium surpluss faster. So depending on your stress levels, you will have to adapt your magnesium dose. A good way to figure out how much magnesium you need, is to slowely start with a little amount of magnesium and increase the portion step by step. Once your body has enough magnesium, your body will let you know via loose stool.

Magnesium supplements

Pure magnesium does not appear in nature as a pure element. It binds with another element. Here are some examples of magnesium supplements that are available:

  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium malate
These forms of magnesium have different properties. Some of them absorb better by the body than others. The most natural form of magnesium is magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride is derived either from seawater, salt lakes or from magnesium-rich ancient seas, such as the Zechstein sea.

Magnesium glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is absorbed pretty well by the body. Magnesium is combined with an amino acide called glycine. Glycine promotes the feeling of calmness, it is a neurotransmitter. It may promote a healthy heart rhythm as well. This form of magnesium is unlikely to have a laxative effect.

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium is combined with an organic salt, citrate. It is a relatively cheap and is quite good absorbed by the body. Magnesium citrate may be a good option for people with constipation, as it may have gentle laxative effects. This supplement works by pulling water into the intestines to make bowel movements softer.

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is well known for its impressive absorbtion by the body. It is also good to detoxifying the cells and tissues. Moreover, magnesium chloride aids kidney function and can boost your metabolism. This magnesium supplement is often taken via the skin. You can apply the magnesium chloride via an oil on your skin, or put some magnesium chloride flakes as an addition to a bath.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is also known as Epsom salt, named after the town Epson in England. Magnesium sulfate is made up of magnesium, sulfate and oxygen. This salt is quite bitter and is normally not consumed orally. It is common to use this salt as a bath addition. In this way, the magnesium can be absorbed via your skin. This sort of magnesium is less eaily absorbed and kept in your body compared to magnesium chloride.

Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is found in milk. This supplement is normally taken orally. Unfortunately, magnesium oxide is not well absorbed and can have a strong laxative effect leading to unconfortable bloating and diarrhea. In fact, only about 5 percent of magnesium oxide is absorbed and used by the body.

Magnesium malate

Magnesium malate includes malic acid, which occurs naturally in foods like fruit and wine. This acid has a sour taste and is also used to enhance flavor or add acidity. It may have less of a laxative effect as other types of magnesium, and therefore gentler on your digestive system. This form of magnesium may help to cope with fatigue, since malic acid is naturally present in fruits. It plays a key role in ATP synthesis and energy production.

Where do magnesium supplements come from?

Magnesium from ancient seas

An example of a reciently discovered ancient sea is the Zechstein sea located in the north of the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. The Zechstein is a sea evaporated 250.000.000 years ago. This Zechstein Salt layer was discovered during drilling for gas in Groningen. The salt layer turned out to contain pure magnesium salt. There are several sites where the salt and magnesium chloride are extracted from the soil. This salt contains 47% magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride is extracted from the bischofite layers of the ancient seas. Bischofite is a solid salt that contains many many macro- and micro-elements that benefit human health, in much higher concentrations that can be found in the sea. This bischofite is extracted with the use of water, which results in magnesium oil. Unfortunately the process of magnesium extraction from 1.5 km deep produces a lot of air pollution. Diesel oil and chemicals are pumped into the earth to extract the salts and magnesium chloride. This results in earthquakes and polluted soil. In 2018 there has been a leak of diesel oil in the magnesium mines as well. Another disadvantage of the magensium chloride from this ancient sea is that it is missing the energetic value of the sun.

Magnesium from salt lakes

Salt lakes or saline lakes is a body of water that has a higher concentration of salts(typically soidum chloride) and other minerals. In some cases, salt lakes have a higher concentration of salt than sea water. These seas are called hypersaline lakes. An alkalic salt lake that has a high concentration of carbonate is sometimes called a soda lake. There are many salt lakes all around the world. A very famous salt lake is the Dead Sea. There is little live in this seas due to the high salt concentration. Hence its name "Dead" sea. In Dijbouti there is the lake Assal. It is located at the lowest point in Africa, and its waters are rich in minerals. And also in Australia, USA there can be found several salt lakes, and many other place on the world. In Tibet and China there are the most salt lakess in the world, more than 1000, and the areas is about 50000 km2. A very little amount of people live in Tibet. The advantage is that there is little human pollution of the salt lakes in Tibet compared to other salt lakes, such as the Dead Sea. A disadvantage of the salt lakes of Tibet are however that the Chinese are exploiting these salt lakes. And profits of the salt often don't go to Tibetan people.

Magnesium from sea water

Magnesium can be retrieved from sea water as well. In Japan this is done a lot. By boiling sea water calcium sulphate evaporates, that is the cloudy foam that is coming of the sea water while boiling it. When straining the liquid it will separate in 2 parts: "salt and magnesium chloride". In Japanse Magnesium Chloride is called Nigari. Magnesium is extracted from sea water all over the world. Depending on how clean the oceans are, it determines the quality of the Magnesium Chloride extract from the sea water. Unfortunately sea water contains impurities, trace nutrients and microplastics. Sea water also contains trace amounts and heavy metals like lead. This is due to ocean pollution and the dumping of plastics in the ocean.

How to use Magnesium Chloride supplementation?

You can apply magnesium chloride oil on your skin and give your skin some time to absorb the magnesium. You can leave the oil on your skin for about 20 minutes. It could sting a little bit, which is normal. When using magnesium oil more often, the stinging sensation will be less or dissapear. So it is better not to apply the magnesium chloride oil on sensitive skin areas. Therefore preferred areas to apply the magnesium oil are areas your legs, arms and feet.

Another way to take magnesium chloride is via a bath. You can put magnesium chloride flakes in a bath tube and take a bath for about 20 minutes, or longer of course. The advantage of taking the magnesium via your skin, is that an overdose is very unlikely. It is a safe way of supplementing yourself with magnesium. When taking magnesium chloride in the form of tablets, capsules and powders it is recommended to start with a low dosis and increase gradually and see how your body reacts to the magnesium supplementation. As mentioned before, depending on your stress levels, your body has a different need of magnesium. When your body has too much magnesium, your body will let you know via loose stools.