Nutrition Library

Magnesium

General Information
  • Magnesium is one of the ten most common elements in the earth’s crust. It is found in nature in combination with other minerals and in the leafy greens of plants.
  • Accurate measurement of magnesium level in the body is difficult because the majority is in the body cells (approx. 95% is intracellular, of which approx. 55% is in the bones). The serum magnesium concentration corresponds to only ca. 1% of the amount of the mineral in the body.
  • In the United States, a survey in 2005-2006 showed insufficient magnesium intake in the general population.
  • It appears that magnesium intake is too low in Germany, as well, especially among omnivores. But it should be emphasized that magnesium intake was assessed through dietary records. Assessing the actual supply of magnesium in the body is very difficult, as mentioned above.
  • Magnesium plays a central role in metabolism and is important in cases of high stress; hence, people should be careful to ensure adequate magnesium intake.
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
  • Magnesium is a key component and activator of more than 300 enzyme systems
  • Important for energy metabolism, energy production in the body
  • Has a major impact on muscle and nerve function
  • Involved in bone mineralization and bone building
  • Ensures normal functioning of the immune system
    • Improves cardiac function, regulates (lowers) blood pressure through vasodilation
    • Plays a role in the hormone and neurotransmitter regulation (e.g., release of insulin, dopamine)
    • Important for mineral and vitamin metabolism, e.g., activates vitamin D and regulates calcium and potassium utilization
    • Protein synthesis as well as DNA and RNA synthesis
    Possible Causes of Deficiency

    Inadequate intake:

    • Diet contains few foods rich in magnesium (see below)

    Increased requirements:

    • Pregnancy, lactation
    • Stress, competitive sports
    • Older age
    • High alcohol consumption
    • Aluminum load

    Reduced absorption:

    • Liver and pancreatic diseases
    • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease
    • HIV
    • Cancers

    Increased loss:

    • Vomiting, diarrhea
    • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
    • Kidney disease

    Interaction with medication:

    • E.g., ACE inhibitors, antacids, bisphosphonates, diuretics, glucocorticoids, oral contraceptives, tetracyclines
    Symptoms of Deficiency
    • General: nervousness, restlessness, anxiety, depression, headache, sensitivity to noise, low stress tolerance, sleep disorders
    • Muscles: muscle cramps, muscle tension, fasciculation, eyelid twitching, jaw and calf cramps
    • Nerves/CNS: migraines, nervousness, paraesthesia (sensations such as tingling or numbness), tremor
    • Gastrointestinal tract: constipation
    • Cardiovascular system: cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, vascular spasms, heart failure
    • Metabolism: Fat metabolism disorder (increase in triglycerides, increase in total cholesterol), decrease in glucose tolerance, deterioration in insulin sensitivity, disturbance in bone and vitamin D metabolism
    • Pregnancy: increased risk of complications such as premature labor, increased premature birth, preeclampsia
    Recommended Intakes

    Recommended intake for adults:

    According to D-A-CH:

    • Age 19-24 years: women 310 mg/day, men 400 mg/day
    • Age 25+: women 300 mg/day, men 350 mg/day

    USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB):

    • 19-30 years: women 310 mg/day, men 400 mg/day
    • Age 31+: women 320 mg/day, men 420 mg/day

    Pregnant women (> 19 years):

    • According to D-A-CH: 310 mg/day
    • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 350 mg/day

    Breastfeeding women:

    • According to D-A-CH: 390 mg/day
    • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 310 mg/day

    Adolescents and children depending on age, see

    The Best Plant Sources (per 100 g)

    Magnesium is mainly found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.

    • Cocoa powder (full fat) – 598 mg
    • Wheat bran – 590 mg
    • Sunflower seeds – 420 mg
    • Flaxseed, crushed – 355 mg
    • Sesame – 345 mg
    • Almond butter – 300 mg
    • Soy flour – 300 mg
    • Pumpkin seeds – 285 mg
    • Cashew nut – 270 mg
    • Walnuts – 240 mg
    • Mung beans – 240 mg
    • Soybeans – 235 mg
    • Pine nuts – 235 mg
    • Tempeh – 230 mg
    • Yeast flakes – 230 mg
    • Millet – 170 mg
    • Rice, brown – 160 m
    • Hazelnuts – 160 mg

     

    • Peanuts – 160 mg
    • Kidney beans – 150 mg
    • Oatmeal – 140 mg
    • Lentils – 130 mg
    • Chickpeas – 125 mg
    • Whole grain pasta – 125 mg
    • Corn – 120 mg
    • Barley – 114 mg
    • Tofu – 100 mg
    • Whole wheat bread – 90 mg
    • Swiss chard – 80 mg
    • Spinach – 60 mg
    • Dates – 50 mg
    • Kohlrabi – 43 mg
    • Arugula – 32 mg
    • Kale – 31 mg
    • Banana – 26 mg
    • Beans, green – 25 mg

     

    Sources
    • Gröber, U. (2011): Micronutrients. Metabolic tuning – prevention – therapy. 3rd ed.