Surveys show that most Americans don’t consume even the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 420 mg/d for men and 320 mg/d for women.
- Surveys show that most Americans don’t consume even the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 420 mg/d for men and 320 mg/d for women. But it gets worse. The RDAs for magnesium are vastly outdated as they were last published in 1997, using average body weights of 133 lb for adult women and 166 lb for adult men. In 2021, researchers published a study arguing that the RDAs for magnesium should be updated to reflect the increasing average body weight of the U.S. population. They recalculated the RDAs for magnesium according to the current average weights of male and female adults, and found that the average American is consuming between 200 and 300 mg/d less magnesium than they need.
Why is magnesium important?
- Magnesium (Mg) has more effects than almost any nutrient supplement on its own. It is involved in over 700 different enzymatic processes including liver functioning, detoxification, health of bone, cell membranes, and chromosomes. Many researchers believe it is the most important nutrient deficiency in USA.
- Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, menstrual cramps, muscle cramps/spasms, chronic pain, and headaches.
- When there is a Mg deficiency, it can take up to 3 months to replete the body’s stores.
- Not all forms of Mg are created equal and have the same effect. In supplement form, Mg is often found chelated (“attached”) to various different amino acids to enhance absorption or target specific tissues. For example, Mg glycinate produces more of a calming effect within the body due to glycine’s nature as a nervous system down-regulator. The chelation process also protects the Mg from interacting with other minerals.
What type of magnesium is best for me? It depends on your symptoms and desired actions.
- Mg Glycinate – helps with sleep, chronic pain, high blood pressure, anxiety. Less laxative than others.
- Mg Malate – best for muscle cramps, pain, and fibromyalgia
- Mg Citrate – ideal for constipation. Also helpful for muscle cramps.
- Mg Threonate – improves memory and brain function. Lowers anxiety and improves sleep.
- Mg Aspartate – preferred for fatigue and cardiovascular disorders
- Mg Orotate – shows benefit for cardiovascular disorders and increasing exercise performance.
- Mg Oxide – strongest laxative, not the best option
How much magnesium should you supplement then?
- Typically start with 200-600 mg daily and then increase as needed.
- Some propose optimal dose is ~5mg of Mg per pound of body weight, per day (or ~10mg of Mg per kilogram of body weight, per day). So if you weigh ~200lbs (or ~90kg), your eventual goal is 1,000mg per day using Mg rich foods AND oral Mg supplements AND/OR topical Mg. You may need to build up to this dose over the course of several months, based upon bowel tolerance.
- Everyone is unique, so experiment with different forms (citrate vs. malate, etc.), quantity, and method of delivery (capsule, powder) to find the best Mg for you and your desired health outcomes.
- Epsom salt baths! Another way to get Mg into your body! Add 3 cups Epsom salts to your bath water.
What are good food sources of magnesium?
- Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, and dried fruit.
- Using magnesium as a laxative (such as magnesium oxide, citrate) is not advised for children under 3.