Magnesium's Role in Your Body

Katherine Cork's picture
By Katherine Cork on April 4, 2018

You've probably heard of magnesium or seen it listed on your multivitamin, but do you know what it does for your body?

Approximately 300 biochemical reactions in your body are dependent on magnesium, including those that keep your heart rhythms, blood sugar and blood pressure in check.

Magnesium also helps with nerve function, ongoing repair of DNA and RNA and absorption of calcium for strong bones.

"Many Americans are deficient because of farming practices that deplete magnesium from the soil, and because approximately 10 percent have diabetes," said Troy J. Mueller, outpatient clinical dietitian at Carilion Clinic. "As you get older, absorption of magnesium also decreases, so our older population is susceptible to deficiency as well."

People who have existing gastrointestinal issues, abuse alcohol or use protein pump inhibitors can also easily find themselves needing more magnesium.

"While you'd have to have severely low levels of magnesium to notice symptoms, many people are likely to be at least mildly depleted," said Troy. "As levels get lower, inflammation in the body increases and you could see more problems with any existing conditions or new issues could develop."

For most adults, 300-350 mg of magnesium per day is recommended. Luckily, plenty of healthy and delicious foods are good sources of magnesium, including:

  • Green leafy veggies like spinach
  • Nuts, beans and peas
  • Soybeans
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Milk

If you're thinking about taking a magnesium supplement, be sure to check with your doctor and pharmacist first--magnesium can interact negatively with some heart medications and other medications.

It can also be dangerous to take too much magnesium, so you want to make sure you're taking the right amount.

For more information about magnesium, visit the National Institutes of Health or make an appointment with a dietician.