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Magnesium affects more than 300 enzymes in the body. It is involved in glucose control, regulating blood pressure, nervous system processes, and muscle function, and is required for energy production.* It is also an important structural component of our bones. In fact, 60% of the magnesium in our body is stored in the skeletal system. Magnesium can be found in numerous foods, in especially high quantities in spinach, nuts, and beans. Excessive alcohol intake, diabetes, the use of PPI-drugs and certain stomach disorders can affect absorption of magnesium.

PMS headaches

One of the top premenstrual syndrome symptoms experienced by women is headaches. A 1991 study attempted to address this concern with magnesium supplementation. 20 patients were given 360mg/day of magnesium or a placebo. After two months, both the placebo and treatment groups reported decreased pain from headaches; however, the magnesium group also reported fewer incidences of headaches, while the placebo group did not.

  1. Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium.

    Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, Genazzani AR, Nappi G., Headache, 1991


One of the functions of magnesium is regulating blood pressure. A common problem that women experience during pregnancy is gestational hypertension. 61 pregnant women were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the effect of magnesium on gestational hypertension. After 12 weeks of supplementation, the average diastolic blood pressure and incidence of hypertension was significantly lower in the group receiving magnesium. Higher urinary magnesium levels were associated with lower blood pressure during the study.

  1. Magnesium supplementation to prevent high blood pressure in pregnancy: a randomised placebo control trial.

    Bullarbo M, Ödman N, Nestler A, Nielsen T, Kolisek M, Vormann J, Rylander R., Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 2013


In 1996, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was performed to assess the effect of magnesium on migraines. During weeks 9 through 12 of the study, frequency of migraines was reduced by 41.6% in the magnesium group, compared to only a 15.8% reduction in the placebo group. The duration and intensity of the migraines was slightly lower in the magnesium group, but not significant. Additionally, the study was on a high dose of magnesium, 600mg per day, which caused diarrhea in 18.6% of the treatment group.

  1. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study.

    Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Köhne-Volland R., Cephalalgia, 1996

Optimal magnesium levels may help with the relief of ocassional sleeplessness.

Optimal magnesium levels may help with the relief of ocassional sleeplessness.

  1. Magnesium involvement in sleep: genetic and nutritional models.

    Chollet D, Franken P, Raffin Y, Henrotte JG, Widmer J, Malafosse A, Tafti M., Behavior genetics, 2001

  2. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans.

    Held K1, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, Uhr M, Wetter TC, Golly IC, Steiger A, Murck H., Pharmacopsychiatry, 2002

  3. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B., Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 2012


Insomnia is a problem for people of all ages, but it tends to get worse as we age. Insomnia can cause a number of symptoms including difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and awakening feeling unrested. In a 2012 clinical study, 46 elderly adults were given 500mg of magnesium or a placebo. The magnesium group experienced improvements in sleep efficiency, concentration of serum renin, cortisol and melatonin. Actual total time asleep was not different between the two groups.

  1. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B., Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 2012


People who consume alcohol frequently are at a higher risk for magnesium inadequacy or deficiency.

  1. Magnesium - Health Professional Fact Sheet

    Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, 2016

Muscle function and recovery

Magnesium is essential for human metabolism, cell growth, protein synthesis and for maintaining the electrical potential in nerve and muscle cells (1). Of the body’s magnesium, 30–40% is found in muscles and soft tissues, 1% is found in extracellular fluid, and the remainder is in the skeleton, where it accounts for up to 1% of bone ash. As stated earlier, magnesium is involved in metabolism and, as such, the demand for magnesium is likely to increase during accelerated metabolic situations, such as exercise. This implies that athletes potentially have higher magnesium requirements that sedentary individuals (2).

As Magnesium plays a key role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation, its relationship with muscle function is well-established. In its Natural Health Product monograph, Health Canada allows the following claim for magnesium and muscle function (3):

• Helps to maintain proper muscle function The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) acknowledges the benefit of magnesium for muscle function. They have established a cause and effect relationship between the dietary intake of magnesium and neurotransmission and muscle contraction. Claims that may be made are (4):

• Magnesium contributes to muscle function (including the heart muscle)

• Magnesium contributes to nerve function

Plasma magnesium has been found to strongly affect muscle performance, such as grip strength and muscle power (2,5). A study of 26 male elite athletes found that magnesium intake was significantly associated with trunk flexion, trunk rotation and handgrip maximal strength. Jumping performance tests were also inversely associated with magnesium intakes (5).

In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of elite male basketball players, researchers investigated the changes in muscular damage markers throughout the basketball season and the relationship with serum magnesium changes. They found that the sportsmen who received 400mg magnesium daily showed significant changes in muscular damage markers along the season (6).

Another randomized, placebo-controlled trial, this time using healthy elderly women, investigated the effect of magnesium supplementation on physical performance and muscle strength. It was found that women given 300 mg magnesium for 12 weeks significantly improved their physical performance scores and walking speed and chair stand times. These are significant outcomes. Walking speed may be a predictor of degenerative skeletal muscle loss and chair stand time affects lower limb strength, balance and psychological aspects (7).

Some sources report that painful cramping in the legs and abdomen are typically the result of a fluid and electrolyte imbalance caused by severe dehydration. Cramping may be likely to occur in individuals who sweat heavily and who lose a higher than normal amount of sodium and other electrolytes such as potassium, calcium and magnesium in sweat (8). While other sources have not concluded an association between electrolyte imbalance and exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC).

  1. Human Kinetics

    Benardot, D (Ed), Advanced Sports Nutrition, 2nd edition, 2012

  2. Can magnesium enhance exercise performance.

    Zhang Y, Xun P, Wang R, Mao L., Nutrients, 2017

  3. Monograph: Magnesium

    Health Canada, Health Canada, 2007

  4. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium and electrolyte balance (ID 238), energy-yielding metabolism (ID 240, 247, 248), neurotransmission and muscle contraction including heart muscle (ID 241, 242), cell division (ID 365), maintenance of bone (ID 239), maintenance of teeth (ID 239), blood coagulation (ID 357) and protein synthesis (ID 364) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061.

    EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA)., EFSA Journal, 2009

  5. Magnesium intake is associated with strength performance in elite basketball, handball and volleyball players

    Santos D, Matias C, Monteiro C, Silva A. , Magnesium Research, 2011

  6. Effect of magnesium supplementation on muscular damage markers in basketball players during a full season.

    Cordova A, Fernandez-Lazaro D, Mieglo-Ayuso J. Seco J. , Magnesium Research, 2017

  7. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial.

    Veronese N, Berton L, Carraro S, Bolzetta F, Rui M. , AJCN, 2014

  8. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement.

    Sawka, M.N., L.M. Burke, E.R. Eichner, R.J. Maughan, S.J. Montain, and N.S. Stachenfeld., Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. , 2007