Magnesium Update

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Please Read Before Proceeding: I am not a physician, I am a clinical nutritionist and can not and do not prescribe. The information provided here is for educational purposes only. Any decision on your part to read and use this information is your personal choice. References are available. There is a charge for reference information.

If you are under the care of a physician for any of the conditions listed here please conduct your own further research and fully inform your physician of your intention to alter your magnesium intake. If you are taking any medications, prescription or non-prescription, check with a health care professional before using magnesium supplements.

If you are currently experiencing any type of kidney condition or disease, do not use magnesium supplements without the full knowledge and approval of your physician. Magnesium is necessary for life and can protect the kidney from disease but if kidney damage has already occurred magnesium supplementation could be harmful, even life threatening.

More information about Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium is available from

The current RDA, 350 mg. per day, is considered to be sufficient but there is mounting evidence that this figure is lower than optimal intake and that this low level of magnesium contributes to all of the listed degenerative diseases. There is a test for RBC magnesium (red blood cell) but since much of the magnesium in your body is stored in your mitochondria RBC magnesium may tell if you are very deficient but not if you have sufficiency. Until a better way is devised to determine optimal total body magnesium (TBM) consider supplementation and watch for results.

Magnesium has been consistently depleted in our soils. It has been further depleted in plants by the use of potassium and phosphorus laden fertilizers which alter the plant's ability to uptake magnesium. Water from deep wells supplies additional magnesium not found in food, but surface water, our common source of supply, lacks magnesium. Food processing removes magnesium. Broiling, steaming and boiling remove magnesium into the water or drippings. High carbohydrate and high fat diets increase the need for magnesium as does physical and mental stress. Alcohol, diuretic medications and insulin (diabetes) further deplete total body magnesium. As we age magnesium uptake may be impaired as a large portion of US seniors have low RBC magnesium. Dieting may further reduce intake of already low levels of magnesium.

Heart disease, hypertension, all types of thyroid disease, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, obesity and chronic fatigue/Epstein Bar have been associated with low RBC magnesium.

As you go through this list you will be amazed, as I was, at how many conditions and diseases are clinically tied to magnesium deficiency. Blood tests for magnesium deficiency are irrelevant and unusable. These levels do not reflect total body magnesium (TBM). Magnesium levels of bone and intracellular levels of magnesium are what tell the true status of TBM.

References and copies of clinical studies are available in each area covered on this page. If you need these references or studies to show your doctor let me know. You will be charged for the copies and for time and cost to prepare and send them. Doing your own research on PubMed will bring fruitful results. Try a search like 'magnesium and osteoporosis' or 'magnesium and sleep' or 'magnesium and anxiety or stress'.

Magnesium is a critical element in 325+ biochemical reactions in the human body.

Recent research, in France and several other European countries, gives a clue concerning the role of magnesium plays in the transmission of hormones (such as insulin, thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, etc.), neurotransmitters (such as dopamine, catecholamines, serotonin, GABA, etc.), and minerals and mineral electrolytes. 

This research concludes that it is magnesium status that controls cell membrane potential and through this means controls uptake and release of many hormones, nutrients and neurotransmitters. It is magnesium that controls the fate of potassium and calcium in the body. If magnesium is insufficient potassium and calcium will be lost in the urine and calcium will be deposited in the soft tissues (kidneys, arteries, joints, brain, etc.).

Magnesium protects the cell from aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium and nickel. Evidence is mounting that low levels of magnesium contribute to the heavy metal deposition in the brain that precedes Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's. It is probable that low total body magnesium contributes to heavy metal toxicity in children and is a participant in the etiology of learning disorders.

Deficiency (from low dietary intake or excess loss) is clinically associated with:

Other conditions are also associated with chronic and acute low magnesium intake and further research is continuing to confirm relationships.

The following substances and conditions reduce total body magnesium


Research in the area of magnesium is vast. There are other conditions, diseases and drugs that alter total body magnesium. For further information see , check on PubMed and read:

Recommended Dietary Allowance

To compensate for deficiencies and/or losses the new RDA is expected to be 500 mg. per day. My Krispin-RDA is a total of 500-700 mg magnesium daily.

Determination of optimal amounts must take into consideration both body size and activity level. Magnesium is a key component of the ATP cycle in the cell which produces all energy.

Formula to Calculate Magnesium Daily Requirement- 

5 to 10 milligrams per day per kilo of ideal body weight or 2.5 to 4.5 milligrams per day per pound of ideal body weight.

Example: 70 kilos or 150 pounds= 350 mg. to 700 mg. daily.

Do not use these calculations for children. The requirements for children are calculated differently. Please consult with your health care professional for more information.

If one or more deficiency or loss factors are a consideration or you have any of the conditions associated with low magnesium use the higher number-

you take diuretics, including potassium sparing diuretics you are an athlete in training
you are diabetic you have hypertension
you are post surgical  you are under large amounts of stress 
you consume large amounts of carbohydrates  you are repairing damaged tissue as in arthritis 
the weather is very hot, you perspire profusely you have any of the conditions listed above
you are dieting with/without medications you are experiencing chronic pain
you have heart disease, any type you have high cholesterol or triglycerides

EXAMPLES: 130 lb. Female, migraine headaches, insomnia, muscle tension/soreness. 130 lbs. times 4.5 milligrams equals total intake- 500-600 mg. total per day (supplement 100-200 mg. 1-3 times a day or if using a calcium supplement containing 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium this may meet your need.) 88 kilo male, athlete in training, some injury with athletic performance 10 mg. equals total intake 880 mg. (100-200 mg. 3-6 times a day.)

Maximum daily intake of magnesium is probably 15 mg. per kilo of ideal body weight or 6.8 mg. per pound of body weight in rare cases, under medical supervision for short periods of time. Your body must be your guide. How do you feel? Do you have energy? Are you flexible? Do you sleep well? Are you free from degenerative disease symptoms?

Do not take more magnesium than you need. Some suggest magnesium equal to or in excess of calcium. While this may work for a few persons, in general it is too much for most. YOU must be the final authority about what is right for YOU. Listen to your body.

The medical community repletes magnesium by giving 400 mg. of oxide, sulphate or gluconate 4-6 times a day. At this level diarrhea becomes a problem and a loose stool depletes magnesium and other electrolytes quickly.

Albion chelated magnesium, bisglycinate, is designed to deliver magnesium without diarrhea. Even when using the Albion chelate a loose stool can still be a problem under certain circumstances. Pathogenic gut bacteria have the ability to 'unchelate' any form of magnesium so that it too may contribute to diarrhea. If you have any type of gut issues consider testing for pathogens and treating before adding back magnesium. You should discontinue magnesium if your stool becomes soft or un-formed. 

If your stool becomes loose it does not mean you have adequate magnesium. You may need to do a series of experiments with different types of magnesium, timing (with and without food; 2,3 or 4 times a day) and/or amounts (100-200 mg. per dose, try the higher first and the lower if you encounter a problem). You may need more than the daily requirement initially to get expected results. My second choice for magnesium source is Advanced Research Magnesium Orotate. Repletion dose is typically four up to three times a day (not more than 12 per day).

Try to keep all doses at not more than 300-400 mg. each. 100-200 mg at a time work more efficiently. While most find magnesium relaxing, some clients have experienced sleep difficulties when taking magnesium late in the day as magnesium may contribute to increased energy production. If this happens to you confine your supplementation to earlier hours.

Is it worth the hassle? I am sorry if this seems too difficult. It is worth the energy. In a recent study analyzing the diet of 564 adult Americans, both male and female, the average intake of magnesium was less than two-thirds of the RDA for men and less than 50% of the RDA for women. This means that men, on average, are getting under 200 mg. magnesium daily and women get under 150 mg. per day. When you take into consideration the current RDA is less than half of the probable adequate amount of magnesium you begin to see the scope of the deficiency problem.

How to Take Magnesium and What Kind of Magnesium to Take

SPECIAL NOTE ON CALCIUM- High calcium intake may block uptake and utilization of magnesium. Current available research seems to indicate that calcium intake be twice than or equal to magnesium intake. In spite of publicized research proclaiming high calcium intake as a positive health factor, in-depth review of research shows that high calcium intake contributes to many degenerative diseases and is a health risk factor. Calcium/magnesium ratios AND sufficient trace minerals are critical. A multi-mineral such as Country Life Target Mins Total Mins will always be a better way to get your needed additional minerals, including magnesium. 

The best food sources of magnesium are chocolate, nuts, seeds, and deep, dark, leafy greens. If you regularly consume these foods you may not need extra magnesium.

Magnesium should be taken with your other supplements and/or food. Split your supplemental intake into 2 or more doses daily. Some magnesium supplements may be energizing and in some persons may have a negative impact on getting to sleep and staying asleep when taken near bedtime. If taken in the correct dose and early enough in the day magnesium often corrects insomnia. Taking magnesium late in the day is not a problem if it does not adversely affect your sleep.

Magnesium is available in chelated (bound to) combinations such as alpha-ketogluconate, aspartate, glycinate, lysinate, orotate, taurate and others. Inorganic or ionic magnesiums include sulphate, oxide, citrate, carbonate, bicarbonate and chloride. Some supplement companies make so-called chelated magnesiums but the chelate (bound to) is partial and the raw material contains some percentage of ionized, unbound or inorganic magnesium. Ionized magnesium may cause diarrhea in many users and, therefore, not correct a cellular magnesium deficiency. Diarrhea, or soft stools, caused by any form of magnesium will make a magnesium deficiency worse.

Albion Laboratories mineral chelates are the preferred source for daily supplemental use. They include glycinate, lysinate and amino acid chelate. I do not work for Albion nor do I sell products (theirs or anyone's). Through hands-on experience I have come to the conclusion that the Albion chelation assures no free, unbound material in the mix. This greatly lessens the possible absorption problems associated with magnesium supplementation and strongly enhances cellular uptake. The Albion website has a complete list of companies using their chelates under Human Nutrition. Look for the company names under products, Gold Medallion.

Currently I consider Albion patented magnesium chelates or Advanced Research Magnesium Orotate as the only reliable sources to replete magnesium. Look for the Albion license patent on the label or your favorite brand. They are the manufacturer and do not directly sell products. If using an Albion containing product make sure the entire tablet or capsule is Albion chelate and not a combination mixed with other (ionized) magnesium sources.

The following brands have been used with good effect: Douglas Labs Amino Mag 200 one tablet once or twice a day, or Solgar Chelated Magnesium, 100 mg. per tablet, one or two twice a day. Albion amino acid chelates may be purchases from health food stores in Canada under the Trophic label. Please Note: I have no association with nor do I benefit from the sources I suggest. (Not even a personal discount on products.) I suggest them because in my research and experience these are what work.

The Solgar brand should be available from your local health food store. I like the Douglas Labs Amino Mag 200 as each tablet has 200 mg of the desired magnesium. Other brands may require two or more tablets or capsules to get the equivalent amount of elemental magnesium. Many of these brands are available from (use RIS664 for a discount at iherb).

These supplement suggestions are totals so when calculating your total daily intake from all sources make sure to include your daily multiple vitamin and multiple mineral as well as food intake. In certain programs, under the care of a health professional, the amounts needed will be at the higher end of average- such as nursing mothers, persons with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. post surgery, heart disease and professional athletics.

You must decide what kind and what level of magnesium works for you.

Basic Guidelines

Be patient as many systems, muscles, bone, immune system, nerve system and brain, will begin to change with magnesium supplementation. Depending on your current condition it may take six months for you to see all of the positive changes.

REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT MEDICATIONS AND PSYCHO-ACTIVE HERBS: Cellular magnesium repletion may alter your need for l-tryptophan, melatonin, St. John's Wort, anti-depressants, sleep medications, cholesterol lowering drugs, thyroid medication, insulin, diabetic drugs, anti-hypertensives, diuretics and other medications. If you are taking any of the above please make sure to check with your physician as you may need to reduce or eliminate these medications. Fish oil of ANY type will increase your need for magnesium.

All of the above information is founded in clinical research studies. Many of these studies are linked at

This document may be copied and distributed with the copyright and my personal information intact. ┬ęKrispin Sullivan, MS CN 1997

Last modified on: 17 September, 2023

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