Stats Say You May Be Low On This Mineral – And Paying A Price

Updated: April 26, 2022

It must be tough living in the shadow of a giant – but that is what magnesium does every day. The need for calcium has been drummed into us since childhood, but almost to the exclusion of magnesium. The result is 57% of Americans do not meet the US RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for magnesium intake!

And if you’re in the majority who fall short on magnesium, it explains why you are more stressed and have less energy than you feel you should.

Just as one missing mini microchip will prevent your computer or phone from working, your body without magnesium will prevent you from operating too.

Why Magnesium Is Critical

Magnesium is essential for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body.

It helps: regulate muscle and nerve function; support a healthy immune system; keep bones strong; keep your heart rhythm steady; regulate blood sugar levels; promote normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

We now know all minerals work together. If one mineral is absent or in low supply, it will reduce or stop the performance ability of the others.

When magnesium is missing or if you’re deficient, modern science has discovered that a negative downward spiral takes place, increasing your risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

How Magnesium and Osteoporosis Are Connected

There are many minerals you need to ensure optimal bone health. No doubt calcium first comes to mind because advertisements focus on it and it makes up a large part of your bone mass. But citizens of prosperous western countries get the most calcium in the world, yet still have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

Why is that? Because calcium doesn’t automatically travel directly from your stomach to your bones.

The rate and amount that calcium dissolves, absorbs into your blood and then makes the trip to your bones is affected negatively or positively by the amount of other minerals and vitamins.

Magnesium is one of these crucial minerals that assist all of the above steps, thereby increasing the amount of calcium that gets to your bones. Why? Because magnesium affects calcium metabolism and the hormones that regulate it.

Magnesium does this partly by helping to convert vitamin D into its active form. The conversion of D to its active form is mandatory for greatest calcium absorption. And the more calcium you absorb, the more that will get to the bones, which leaves less to end up in your arteries and soft tissues.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, magnesium expert and Medical Director of the nonprofit Nutritional Magnesium Association says…

“Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in the blood. Without the proper balance of magnesium to calcium, about a 1:1 ratio, calcium ends up depositing in your kidneys and can create kidney stones, in your coronary arteries resulting in clogged arteries, and in joint cartilage, rather than in your bones where you need it most. The more calcium you take without the balancing effect of magnesium, the more symptoms of magnesium deficiency and calcium excess you are liable to experience.”

How Magnesium And Diabetes Relate

‘The Nurses’ Health Study’ and ‘The Health Professionals Follow-up Study’ examined 85,060 women and 42,872 men and followed up with them for 18 years for risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

They had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at baseline.

The conclusion was the risk for developing type 2 diabetes was greater for women and men with a low magnesium intake. [1]

There is well established connection with vitamin D deficiency and diabetes [2] that has been recently publicized. As a result, more people are becoming aware of the need for vitamin D.

Less known however, is that if you don’t get enough magnesium, you can’t convert vitamin D into its active form!

which is the best calcium to take for osteoporosis

How Magnesium Affects Cardiovascular Issues

Evidence is continuing to grow about magnesium lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. And observational studies indicates you getting optimal magnesium will reduce the risk of having a stroke. [3]

Patients who took 365 mg of magnesium twice a day for six months, “had better blood vessel function and their hearts showed less stress during treadmill exercise compared to the placebo group.” And that, “supplements [with magnesium] enabled heart disease patients to exercise for longer periods and appeared to protect their hearts from the stress of exercise,” according to a study published in the journal Circulation.

Magnesium also restores your blood vessels’ ability to open up when the body needs more blood. [4]

Magnesium, especially when we get it from food, is a dynamic mineral capable of doing great things. And there are no known cases of excessive dietary magnesium causing toxicity.

What’s interesting however is that too much and too little magnesium from supplements has similar effects on the body: nausea, diarrhea, appetite loss, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and psychological changes. [5]

The Tolerable Upper Limit for magnesium is 350 mg per day for adults. [6]

For reasons noted above, this number should be adhered to more carefully if the source is supplements.

However, as the Circulation study mentioned above, benefits to do with your heart have been observed in participants taking over 700 mg per day, via supplements.

Where Magnesium Is Found

Here are some of the best food sources that can provide you with this mighty powerhouse, magnesium. [7]

Source mg % of Daily Value
Wheat bran (1/4 cup) 89 22%
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20%
Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ cup 78 20%
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 77 19%
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19%
Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup 74 19%
Wheat germ, crude, ¼ cup 69 17%
Nuts, mixed, dry roasted, 1 ounce 64 16%

Many find eating these foods in the appropriate amounts very challenging however, and is why most people still don’t get enough magnesium every day.

If that sounds familiar, consider another rich whole food plant source of magnesium that can be had in convenient capsule form. AlgaeCal Plus is from 100% USDA Certified Organic marine algae and contains 350 mg of magnesium in a daily serving (80% of the Daily Value) – the maximum amount allowed in a supplement. Thankfully, there’s no more reason for you to fall short on mighty magnesium!


  1. ^Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care 2004;27:134-40.
  2. ^
  3. ^Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, Giovannucci EL, Kawachi I, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Intake of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber and risk of stroke among US men. Circulation 1998;98:1198-204.
  4. ^
  5. ^Jaing T-H, Hung I-H, Chung H-T, Lai C-H, Liu W-M, Chang K-W. Acute hypermagnesemia: a rare complication of antacid administration after bone marrow transplantation. Clinica Chimica Acta 2002;326:201-3.
  6. ^Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
  7. ^U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

Article Comments

Add New Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,