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General Description

Magnesium is a major mineral needed by every cell in the human body. About half of the body's magnesium is found in the bones, with the other half distributed to organs and tissues throughout the body. Only 1 percent of the body's magnesium is found in the blood. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is essential for bone development and maintenance, muscle and nerve function, and cardiovascular health. It also plays important roles in protein synthesis and energy metabolism. Magnesium in supplements (such as magnesium chloride, carbonate, oxide, succinate, orotate, gluconate, aspartate, glycinate, citrate, malate, and fumarate) is bound to other molecules to make it stable.

Food Sources

Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, usually in small amounts. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts, beans, tofu, and dark green vegetables. Meat, fish, and dairy products also provide significant amounts.

Health Applications

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Bone Strength/development
  • PMS
  • Hearing and vision
  • Muscle and nerve function
  • Fatigue


The 1999 RDAs for magnesium:
Age range Men Women Pregnancy Lactation
14-18 410 mg/day 360 mg/day 400 mg/day 360 mg/day
19-30 400 mg/day 310 mg/day 350 mg/day 310mg/day
31+ 420 mg/day 320 mg/day 360 mg/day 320 mg/day

Many people consuming the typical "Western" diet do not get the RDA for magnesium from their foods, and may be at risk for marginal deficiency. The elderly are at particular risk for magnesium deficiency, due to decreased absorption and other factors. The recommended dose for magnesium supplements varies with the magnesium content of the diet. The amount of elemental magnesium in supplements varies depending on the form used.