Magnesium has been described as the “5th and forgotten mineral.” Many people readily supplement with calcium, and have no notion that magnesium is an extremely important nutrient. In a recent study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia made the following conclusions about magnesium (1):
“Because magnesium intake is low among many people in the United States and inadequate magnesium status is associated with increased risk of acute and chronic conditions, an urgent need exists to perform a current survey to assess the physiologic status of magnesium in the U.S. population. Current nutritional recommendations that encourage the adequate intake of fruits and vegetables and an increased emphasis on the benefits of nut consumption may, in time, lead to more adequate dietary intake of magnesium.”
The current RDA for magnesium is 420 mg per day (mg/d) for males; and the CDC researchers estimated the following average intakes (1):
Caucasian males: 352 mg/d
Hispanic males: 330 mg/d
African American males: 278 mg/d
The current RDA for magnesium is 320 mg per day (mg/d) for females; and the CDC researchers estimated the following average intakes (1):
Caucasian females: 256 mg/d
Hispanic females: 242 mg/d
African American females: 202 mg/d
We are told that a substantial number of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of magnesium, and the CDC researchers tell us that this can lead to numerous conditions associated with inflammation, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and headaches; and magnesium is currently used to treat cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, asthma, preeclampsia and eclampsia (1).
More recently, a study demonstrated that a higher intake of magnesium was associated with less inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an inflammatory protein associated with the expression of pro-inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease and arthritis. Reduced magnesium intake was associated with higher CRP and a greater expression of a pre-diabetic state referred to as syndrome X (2).
Some 300 metabolic reactions in the human body require magnesium, including the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the human body’s fuel for energy. Every aspect of DNA synthesis and repair requires magnesium (3), and all aspects connective tissue metabolism requires magnesium (4). Connective tissues make up our joints, ligaments, spinal discs, tendons, and parts of our skin and muscles.
Common recommended supplemental levels range from 400 to 1000 mg/day. The easiest way to take magnesium is to supplement with 1/2 at breakfast and the other 1/2 with dinner. Dr. Jean Durlach, editor of the journal Magnesium Research, recommends that our daily intake of magnesium should be 6 mg per kilogram of body weight. Take your bodyweight in pounds and divide by 2.2, which gives your weight in kilograms.
For example, if you weigh 220 lbs, you would divide 220 by 2.2 and get 100 kg. Now multiply 100 kg times 6 mg of magnesium, and you arrive at 600 mg per day.
Supplementing with 400 mg of magnesium [along with a multivitamin] gets most people above their recommended level, which is the goal. Most of us have had an insufficient intake of magnesium for many years and repletion cannot occur if we just taken in our required level. A recent review article explained that we need to take in about 1000 mg per day in order to replete magnesium stores to normal (3).
The only side effect of taking too much magnesium is diarrhea…so, take less until the diarrhea subsides. Many people do not have a diarrhea response, while others do. Adjust your intake accordingly.
The only group for whom magnesium supplementation seems ill advised, is those with established tumors. As magnesium is needed for so many metabolic reactions, such as energy production, it seems that it may assist in the growth of established tumors; however, this relationship is not conclusive (3).