What Is Magnesium Used For? Why and How To Take It

Magnesium is the second most common element in the human body. It plays a significant role in maintaining general health. It controls hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, production of energy, and maintenance of the DNA and RNA (1). Deficiency of this nutrient causes some adverse effects on the body. These include muscle pain and spasms, trouble relaxing and sleeping and poor digestion.

There is an extensive body of research on what is magnesium used for and its beneficial effects on the body. According to many estimates, magnesium deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. It affects as many as 80% adult US population. So, magnesium supplementation is crucial to maintaining the level of this essential nutrient in the body.

Why Take Magnesium?

As I said earlier, magnesium is an essential mineral, and it is crucial in maintaining good health. Some of the common symptoms associated with the chronic deficiency of magnesium include (2):

  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Hypertension and other heart diseases
  • Mood swings and difficulty in sleeping
  • Muscle cramps and loss of muscle strength
  • Impotence (in males)
  • Migraines and cluster headaches

What is Magnesium Used for on a Daily Basis?

The body loses magnesium on a daily basis. Muscle contraction, hormone production, and even heartbeat consume magnesium. The stores of magnesium can drain fast if we don't supplement the mineral through diet.

One of the easiest ways to fix this problem is by taking magnesium in the form of supplements. The diet is often not enough to replenish the lost stores of the mineral. Dietary supplementation is the easiest and most effective way to replenish the lost magnesium stores of the body.

How To Take Magnesium

Well, there are many magnesium supplements on the market. You can find magnesium supplements in any drugstore. Although, it is important to understand that there are many types of supplements available. The amount of magnesium that the body can absorb depends on the kind of the supplement.

You should opt for only the best magnesium supplement that allows the highest absorption. Liquid supplements result in a better absorption compared to solids supplements. Your body absorbs certain magnesium salts better compared to some other forms. For example, citrate and chloride salts offer better absorption compared to oxide or sulfates. Some of the most common forms of magnesium supplements that you can find on the market include the following: 

Magnesium Citrate

Now Foods Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium Citrate: It  is a salt form of magnesium with citric acid. Although this form is quite safe when taken is small doses, it can cause diarrhea in some people

Magnesium Chelate

Carlson Chelated Magnesium

Chelates result in the best absorption of magnesium from supplements. Magnesium is bound proteins or amino acids in this form which makes it easy to absorb.

Magnesium Chloride Oil

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil

This supplement is in the liquid form which you can apply on skin. This form is well tolerated and does not cause any gastric disturbances. If you are having trouble with oral supplements, this may be a great, safer alternative for you. Athletes use this supplement to improve energy levels and reduce muscle spasms and pain.

Magnesium Threonate and Glycinate


Both these supplements are easy to absorb and well-tolerated. Taking magnesium in these forms will not cause any stomach upset.

When to Take Magnesium Supplements

This is an important question to answer before you begin supplementing magnesium. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is difficult to determine magnesium levels in the body. This is because a majority of magnesium in cells and bones is not accessible for measurement. And the free magnesium in the blood fluctuates a lot. Thus, determining magnesium in blood alone is not a good option (3). The best way to determine magnesium is checking in blood, saliva and urine. Although, none of the methods are entirely accurate.

Magnesium supplements are quite safe and do not have any serious side effects. Many physicians have started to recommend magnesium supplements to prevent future deficiencies. If you are an adult over 31 years of age, it is a good idea to start using magnesium supplements.  These supplements provide more than adequate supplementation.

How to Use Magnesium and How Much to Take

The best way to take magnesium, if you are using it in the form of a pill or a tablet, is to take it with your meals. The fats and proteins in your meal will help the body to absorb most of the magnesium from the supplement.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium depends on your age and gender (4). If you are an adult over 31 years old, the RDA for men is 420 mg while for women, it is 320 mg of magnesium.

Concluding Remarks

Magnesium is one of the essential nutrients for good health. Supplementing magnesium is an excellent idea to prevent deficiency and maintain good health. But, you have to be careful in deciding the type and dosage of the supplement.

I would recommend you to consult your physician before you start taking magnesium supplements. If possible, try and get your magnesium levels checked as well. Most of the magnesium supplements are quite safe to use. Although, some of them can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Consult your doctor if you experience any adverse reactions to any magnesium supplement. I hope that this article has helped you to understand this vital element better. I also hope to have answered some of the questions that you may have. Stay healthy and take care of yourselves!

Product images sourced from Amazon.com

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