The Benefits Of Taking Magnesium Supplements

20 October 2019

This Health Bunker article is quite a lengthy one. It goes into quite a bit of detail. I felt the detail was essential to get the full description of magnesium over, so please bare with it. However, I did try to keep the explanations easy to follow, not being very technical myself I felt this was important.

Magnesium is an essential mineral. But, studies suggest that about 75% of us are not meeting our daily recommended intake, here in the UK or in the United States. In this article, we will discuss how magnesium plays an important role in our health.

Also, Magnesium deficiency (Hypomagnesemia) is often overlooked as a health problem. We will explain what different forms of magnesium are available out there. This article will also look at the great effect and the side effects of magnesium.

There are many different ways we can take magnesium in our diets, from food and water, or via magnesium supplements oral powders, tablets, capsules or liposomal gels for example. We can also have intravenous magnesium infusions. Or we can absorb magnesium through our skin by bathing or having a relaxing foot soak with magnesium salts.

Low absorption or intake of magnesium will change our biochemistry, increasing the risk factors of serious illness. Magnesium deficiency is very common in people with high alcohol intake. It is also deficient in older adults. Deficiencies can start when we fall below the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).

So before we get into magnesium supplement benefits, what are these recommended daily intakes and what happens if we are deficient?

Government Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)

The RDA levels of magnesium given by the UK government are 19-64 age group 300mg (420 mg USA) for men and women 270mg (320 mg USA) per day. The medical advice is that we should be getting the required vitamins and minerals, like magnesium from our diet. However, that age group are the ones showing most of the ill health in the UK. Which is generally most of the illnesses that magnesium deficiency causes.

Before we get into Magnesium deficiency symptoms, we will go into what magnesium does when it enters the body.

What Happens When We Eat Magnesium?

More than 300 chemical reactions in our bodies rely on magnesium. It plays an important role in relaying signals between the brain and body. Magnesium acts as the doorman for our N-methyl-D-aspartate (NDMA) receptors. These receptors are found in our nerve cells and they are needed for brain development, learning, and memory.

Magnesium helps normal nerve, and muscle functions, it helps high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, promotes a healthy immune function and keeps bones strong. Research suggests that it also helps blood glucose levels or insulin resistance, and aids the production of energy and protein.

This is not a definitive list but it shows a worrying health trend. We will dig deeper into individual health effects later. Below are some top-level symptoms.

Some Medications Lower Magnesium Levels

Certain medicines will lower magnesium levels in the body. If you’re taking the following drugs ask your doctor if you should also be taking a magnesium supplement. These are possible drugs that affect magnesium levels;

  • Antacid Drugs (Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), Anti Histamines, Tums, Rennies). Several reports linked long term PPI use to an increased risk of hypomagnesemia, in the usage of 1 year or more.
  • Results of studies suggested that PPIs inhibit active transport of magnesium in the intestines.
  • Antibiotics are thought to lower magnesium levels.
  • Corticosteroids – There is evidence that corticosteroids also reduce magnesium levels.
  • Blood Pressure Medications – (Ace Inhibitors)
  • Diuretics – The BMJ says these drugs cause an increased level of excretion of magnesium in the urine. Low serum levels and tissue magnesium levels have been reported in users.
  • Statins – According to Harvard, taking Statins can deplete nutrient levels including Magnesium.
  • Aromatase Inhibitors (Anastrozole)
  • Immunosuppressants (Cyclosporine, Tacrolimus)

Here are more drugs that cause magnesium deficiencies according to pharmacist and author Suzy Cohen. This is not a definitive list please follow the link.

Magnesium Deficiency or Hypomagnesemia Symptoms

Early signs of low magnesium are; nausea, vomiting, weakness, or decreased appetite. As the deficiency gets worse new symptoms may include; numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, muscle spasticity, personality changes, and abnormal heart rhythms.

People with Alcohol Dependence, Depletes Magnesium

Chronic Alcoholism can lead to magnesium deficiency. Because poor diets are a byproduct of alcohol abuse, lack of nutrition also plays a big part. Alcohol leads to liver disease, urinary (magnesium in the urine), phosphate depletion, pancreas issues (pancreatitis), all contribute to magnesium depletion.

Migraines and Magnesium Supplements

Research suggests that taking a magnesium supplement could be effective for people who suffer from certain migraines or headaches. The amount of magnesium in a sufferer’s brain may be low when a migraine strikes, and they may also have a magnesium deficiency, studies indicated.

Furthermore, the lack of magnesium in the body may play an important role in women with ‘menstrual migraine’. A couple of controlled trial studies showed that oral magnesium supplements are effective for headache prevention.

People who suffer migraines that cause aural or visual disturbances may find they have more benefits from additional magnesium supplementation. The American Migraine Foundation suggests taking a 450-500 mg supplement of magnesium.

One 12 week study observed that people who took a 600mg magnesium supplement experienced 42% fewer migraine attacks and the attacks were less painful.

Magnesium Deficiency and Heart Disease, What’s the link?

A decade long study that reviewed CVD research extending back over 70 years found that low magnesium levels contributed to heart disease more than cholesterol or saturated fats. (please read our Keto article). Being magnesium deficient is strongly linked to all aspects of heart disease; Arrhythmias, Irregular Heartbeats, Angina, Ischemic Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, and Coronary Heart Disease.

The study showed that magnesium deficiency increases the risk factors for hypertension and high cholesterol. Just as magnesium helps nerve functions throughout the body, magnesium is also important for coordinating the activity of our heart muscle and all the nerves that make our heartbeat regular.

Magnesium and Diabetes

Studies show that;

  • Magnesium has many benefits, one of them is that it regulates blood sugar. Magnesium deficiency is often seen in people with diabetes. Low levels of magnesium are associated with insulin resistance. People with type 2 diabetes lose excess magnesium in their urine, which contributed to lower their levels.
  • People with type 1 diabetes can also develop insulin resistance putting them at risk for magnesium deficiency too. Taking a good magnesium supplement can improve diabetes because your magnesium blood levels will increase.
  • Supplementation for people who are pre-diabetic may also help blood sugar and possibly halt type 2 diabetes.

Osteoporosis – According to the National Institute for Health (NIH)

Several studies on different species showed that low magnesium diets promote osteoporosis. The bones of magnesium-deficient animals were brittle and fragile with microfractures detected.

Research by Bristol University scientists suggests that low magnesium levels may increase bone fractures and that higher levels of magnesium could stop disability. They found that men with higher magnesium levels were 44% less likely to have a fracture.

Mental Health – Vermont University Trial

Globally over 300 million people suffer from depression. It is the leading cause of disability and more women than men suffer from depression. Treatment comes from prescription antidepressant pills. But now a clinical trial done by the University of Vermont shows that magnesium is effective, safe and much less expensive than drugs and comes without the side effects too.

Increased brain magnesium levels have been proven to restore cognitive function. Studies showed that Magnesium Threonate improved brain plasticity, which leads to improved, memory, learning and cognition.

Sleep Enhancer – GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a neurotransmitter, a type of ‘chemical messenger’. GABA boosts mood and has a calming or relaxing effect on the nervous system.

Magnesium increases GABA that encourages relaxation as well as sleep. It also plays a role in regulating the body’s stress levels. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to heightened stress and anxiety.

Our Kidneys regulate Levels of Magnesium.

Magnesium is stored in bones and soft tissues, less than 1% is found in blood and serum. So why is blood tested, when we have a magnesium test? Kidneys monitor the amount in our blood, if the amounts are low it retains more magnesium. Otherwise, it would be excreted in the urine.

Although our kidneys do the best they can, certain instances can cause a magnesium deficiency. Like health conditions, prescription medications, and immune system overload, or drug and alcohol use.

So, what are the benefits of magnesium supplements?

Magnesium is a mineral that is vital for bodily functions, also your body cannot make it so we have to acquire it from our diets. There are a number of different magnesium supplement types. In this section, we’ll cover these types and the benefits they can bring. The bioavailability or absorption rates of different kinds of magnesium supplements can vary.

Some forms dissolve well in liquid and are absorbed more completely in the gut than less soluble forms.

Magnesium in a study showed that aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chlorate forms are absorbed more completely, and they proved more bioavailable than oral magnesium oxide or sulfate.

I’d like to add magnesium threonate to this list, I have found it very useful in our fight against Lyme. But what does each type actually do?

What are the Different Types of Magnesium Supplements or Uses?

Magnesium Chloride; We use this form in the bath as ‘magnesium flakes’. We have found it great for detox effects, sleep and relaxation if used in the bath or a foot soak.

The National Institute for Health noted a study where participants with type 2 diabetes and hypomagnesemia received Chloride supplements for 16 weeks. Results showed a lower average blood glucose level and lower fasting glucose levels as well.

Magnesium Citrate; is a common type of magnesium used in supplements. From tablets, capsules, and powders can be used to treat magnesium deficiency. The good thing about Citrate is that it is very well absorbed by the body. Some claim it has 90% bioavailability, but keep in mind that high doses may cause diarrhea, and some say that Citrate is more likely to cause this.

Magnesium Glycinate; is praised for its apparent ability to relieve stress and anxiety and also promote better sleep. Most forms have been shown to help sleep and muscle relaxation, Glycinate might be the best (the Amino Glycine is known to promote calming). Glycinate has optimum bioavailability and hasn’t got the laxative to affect other forms have.

Magnesium Malate; is also highly absorbable but may also cause diarrhea in some people at high doses. People with muscle pains and fibromyalgia have been known to benefit from taking Malate. Magnesium Malate is a mixture of Malic Acid and magnesium.

Malic acid has sour to taste and is found in fruit. Malic acid has many health benefits and it can be applied to the skin, for the treatment of warts, acne, calluses and other skin issues.

Magnesium Aspartate; Aspartate is found in meats and plants and according to the NIH, it may be a neurotransmitter. Aspartates are used to increase absorption rates of the other minerals they are mixed with to enhance athletic performance. Highly absorbable by the body and can be given via IV infusion.

Magnesium Taurate; Taurine is an amino acid and when combined with magnesium it is praised for its calming effects. It is being heavily researched as an anti-diabetic treatment in controlling blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Magnesium Orotate; The NIH says that ‘Orotic acid acts as a transporter that carries magnesium into cells. It may also be an Antioxidant and be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Orotate is also beneficial in the treatment of Magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium Threonate; is the new kid on the block, Threonate has probably the highest bioavailability and is especially good for cognitive function. Threonate passes easily through the blood-brain barrier. A study found this form of magnesium more effective than any other magnesium supplement at booting levels of magnesium in the brain. Threonate promotes better learning abilities and memory.

This is not a definitive list but I’ve picked some of the main forms of magnesium.

Down Side of Magnesium Supplements

If you have an illness like Lyme disease with multiple infections creating havoc, magnesium might be a short term problem. Although it is an essential mineral a lot of the microbes actually use magnesium for their own nutrition.

If you have SIBO for instance, having oral magnesium supplements may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea when it hits the gut for digestion. (We have experience with this as my wife had SIBO). We cut out all oral magnesium products.

Microbes like Lyme infection live in the gut, many of them also live inside parasites which also live in the intestines, that also use magnesium for food. Once the treatments have reduced the microbe populations magnesium can be restarted. We used magnesium flakes in the bath or foot soaks and had IV infusions to get around this problem.

*NB Please beware of supplements that contain Magnesium Stearate, this is used as a binder. It has no nutritional benefit.

What Foods Contain Magnesium?

Here are examples of foods that contain magnesium, please note that heavily processed foods will lead to nutrient deficiencies.

  • Green Leafy Vegetables (spinach, kale)
  • Fruit (bananas, avocado)
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Legumes (chickpeas, black beans)
  • Seafood (Salmon, Tuna)
  • Whole Grains (Brown Rice and Oats)
  • Raw Cacao
  • Tofu

Does, Nutrient Depletion in Crops Cause Magnesium Deficiency?

The food we eat is now devoid of nutrient values, vitamins and minerals have been reduced because of over-farming, pesticide and fertilizer usage depletes essential nutrients. GMOs are also blamed for soil depletion because they are growth modified with the herbicide Roundup Ready.

The way we cook our food and the type of food we eat is also contributing to our diets being less nutritious. Microwaving food destroys the food and the nutritional values, even boiling, baking or frying effects food values but microwaving destroys it.

Soft Drinks and Mineral Absorption

Fizzy soft drinks contain ‘phosphoric acid’ this ingredient depletes calcium and magnesium. Excessive amounts of phosphoric acid can block mineral absorption in the body. Once this happens your body actually starts to cannibalize its own stores, like our bones and connective tissues. This can lead to an assortment of problems, brittle bones, arthritis etc.

Sugar is another cause of magnesium depletion in our bodies. Every molecule of sugar requires 54 molecules of magnesium to process it. High sugar diets cause magnesium deficiency. There are about 40g of sugar in a can of cola.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Magnesium Deficiencies

Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame can be a factor in magnesium deficiency too. Diet sodas have been associated with increased risk of heart attacks or strokes, which are both related to magnesium deficiencies. An ingredient of Aspartame is Aspartic acid and is the main culprit because it interferes with magnesium reactions in the body.

Studies have shown high consumption of diet soft drinks have been linked to numerous disorders common with magnesium deficiency such as; diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis.

Caffeine Reduces Minerals in the Body.

Essential nutrients like Calcium, Magnesium and the B Vitamins can be depleted by caffeine.

Magnesium Supplement Possible Side Effects

The common side effects are stomach upsets, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Nearly all forms of magnesium have a laxative effect.

So, What’s the Best Type of Magnesium Supplement?

As I said earlier, we have used a lot of different supplements and manufacturers on our Lyme disease journey. I will go into the brands we use. But I want to make a couple of things clear;

  1. Health Bunker, or we as individuals are not being paid by any of the brands we name.
  2. I will only use brands we have used and had positive results from.
  3. Speak to your medical advisor before trying any supplement or procedure.

Pure Encapsulations (Owned by Nestle)

They make a few magnesium products that work very well. Although Pure Encapsulations is owned by Nestle, they are a very clean brand. At the moment they don’t use any dodgy fillers or binders in their products. But like everything, I will change if they change. These are what we currently use or have used…

Tri Alkali – This is a white powder sweetened by stevia. It contains a mix of  Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin D3, and Glycine.

Magnesium Glycinate or Citrate – Capsules.

Livon Labs (Altrient) – Liposomal Magnesium Threonate, highly bio-available.

Natural Stacks – this company make a multi-mag using Magnesium Threonate, Glycinate, and Taurate. They are a little more difficult to get hold of though.

Magnesium Chloride Flakes (Bath Salts) – We have used various brands for bathing and foot soaks, very beneficial for aches and pains and detox.

Vitamin and Mineral IVs are very useful too.

We tend to swap between Magnesium Glycinate, Malate, Citrate, and Threonate supplements.

Magtein (Magnesium L-threonate)

Magtein’s Magnesium Threonate deserves a little more detail, as we have found this works best. A Magnesium Threonate product that we have used is Magtein (Magnesium L-threonate) a patented Magnesium Threonate supplement made in the USA. Magtein is then sold to various supplement manufacturers. Magtein has been conducting studies and claims to have got some very positive results.

Results from a 12 week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind human trial were published in 2016, these were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Significant improvement in cognitive ability was noted when tested in these main areas; working memory, attention, and episodic memory. Magtein’s (Magnesium L-threonate) effect on magnesium levels in the body was assessed in the study. The findings indicated that Magtein is effective at increasing Magnesium levels.

The Role of Magnesium and Vitamin D

According to Dr Joseph Mercola, if you are taking vitamin D supplements without adequate magnesium levels then you will be wasting your time. Magnesium is required so your body can utilize Vitamin D, it is also important to take Vitamin K2 as well.

Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphate balance, which in turn helps maintain healthy bone functions. Magnesium is needed to activate Vitamin D.

Health Bunker

With the current health problems that surround us today, I would like to think that the NHS and government are looking at all avenues to wellness. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Today modern medicine is transfixed by 2 modes. Medications or operations. After that, by and large, you’re on your own.

Magnesium deficiency (Hypomagnesemia) symptoms are like a who’s who of modern illnesses. Heart Arrhythmias, Irregular Heartbeats, Angina, Ischemic Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, and Coronary Heart Disease. Type 1 & 2 diabetes, Joint and bone issues like arthritis and osteoporosis.

CVD kills 17.3m every year around the globe. How many of those people had a magnesium deficiency? That’s 30% of all deaths. CVD costs the UK £19bn according the 

Here in the UK over 10 million people either have Arthritis or other joint-related issues like; ankylosing spondylitis, cervical spondylosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis, reactive, secondary arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica.

As with most of the articles we write, the evidence becomes apparent with each word. Why is it so difficult for health authorities not to see these obvious links between illness and disease and nutritional deficiencies? If untrained researchers like us can see the glaring discrepancies then surely those clever people with their master’s degrees can see them as well.

Or is it by design?

Eat Well. Be Well.

Dom and Nic
Health Bunker
It’s Your Life. Own it!

*Disclaimer – Please note, we are not Doctors or trained medical professionals. We are not giving medical advice. Check with your Doctor or health practitioner before trying anything.



PH Labs
Pharmacy Times
Huffington Post
Suzy Cohen
Magnesium Education
Jigsaw Health
Magnesium Education
Medical News today
Migraine Trust
Med Center Blog
Nutritional Magnesium

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