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by Lew Johnson, pharmacist

Today we are going to discuss the hugely beneficial effects of magnesium supplementation.

We are going to look at groups where I feel magnesium supplementation could make a huge difference to their daily lives.
It is well known that magnesium is utilised by the body for over 300 enzyme reactions and is a critical mineral for health. it is utilised by almost every organ in the body and especially the heart muscles, lungs and kidneys.

It is a fact that average magnesium intake in New Zealand is well below the recommended daily intake, perhaps due to the fact that our soils are generally deficient in this mineral and this deficiency is repeated consistently within the food chain.

Some of the factors that can lower the magnesium in the body include:

  •  strenuous exercise may contribute to magnesium deficiency due to an increased excretion of magnesium in the sweat and urine. This may require an increased magnesium intake of 10 to 20%.
  •  Anxiety and stress may elevate catecholamine levels leading to increased urinary magnesium excretion and a decreased blood level of magnesium.
  •  Deficiency of magnesium in the elderly may be due to a deficient diet. Also the elderly tend to have a higher excretion of magnesium and reduced intestinal absorption

A deficiency of magnesium may lead to fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, muscle weakness and muscle spasms, loss of appetite and potassium depletion.

Trials have indicated that magnesium levels are often very low in asthmatics and it has been found that an increased magnesium intake produces a better lung function in both capacity and airway flow. The use of magnesium may also help to reduce bronchial constriction, and therefore reduce bronchial spasms . 

Did you know that IV Magnesium is used in hospitals for treatment of severe asthma that is non- responsive to medication. 

It stands to reason that supplementation with magnesium may help to prevent asthma attacks at a recommended daily dose of 200 to 400mg for adults.

It has been established that people who suffer from migraines have been found to have lower blood and brain levels of Magnesium. 

Preliminary research has indicated that supplementation with 200mg of magnesium per day reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by 80% in those who were treated , and some double blind trials have indicated that supplementation with magnesium was significantly more effective than placebo. 

Magnesium is often combined with riboflavin (VitaminB2) when given as a treatment for migraine as some clinical trials have also suggested that vitamin B2 is also very effective at reducing migraine frequency.

Clinical trials using Magnesium citrate have indicated a substantial decrease in the frequency of nocturnal leg cramps.


In this trial Magnesium Citrate was used at a dose of 300mg of elemental magnesium per day. 

This could also apply to athletes who lose salts through excretion to supplement with Magnesium citrate to help reduce muscle cramping and soreness.

Supplementation of Magnesium citrate along with potassium citrate decreases the formation of kidney stones due to a decrease in Calcium Oxalate saturation due to chelation (Binding) of calcium with the citrate in the magnesium citrate supplement.Magnesium citrate also has a beneficial effect on uric acid accumulation.

Those who have had or are prone to kidney stones would definitely benefit from a magnesium citrate supplement.

Certain medication has the effect of depleting magnesium from the body. 

Those on proton pump inhibitors (losec,omeprazole,pantoprazole,solox) are recommended to take a daily dose of Magnesium due to the fact that these drugs deplete body reserves of magnesium with long term use. 

Those on asthma medication would also benefit from a magnesium supplement to help reduce the symptoms of asthma and improve lung functionality. 

Not all magnesium supplements are the same as absorption can vary between different magnesium salts. 

Magnesium citrate,magnesium aspartate,magnesium amino acid chelate are ,the best absorbed, where magnesium phosphate and magnesium oxide have low absorption.

Foods that are high in magnesium include :

leafy greens (79mg per 100g), nuts and seeds (534mg per 100g), fish( 97mg per 100g), beans and lentils( 86mg per 100g), whole grains eg quinoa (44mg per 100g), avocado (29mg per 100g), dark chocolate (327mg per 100g). 

The amount of magnesium may vary hugely according to soil type and environmental conditions.

Magnesium citrate is my favourite magnesium because it is very well absorbed and it also renders an alkaline environment to the body, which is very beneficial for the body. 

It is well known that many serious conditions such as some cancers, thrive in acid environments. 

I think that everyone would benefit from a magnesium supplement due to deficiencies that occur in our diet and the huge requirements for magnesium by our bodies for a multitude of enzyme reactions. 

It is considered to be a safe addition to the diet with minimal side effects so give Magnesium a go! 

An excess of magnesium in the body will cause looseness in the bowel motions, which gives you an indication to lower magnesium supplementation.
Recommended magnesium supplements are:

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