Magnesium – the wonder mineral

This month, we’re focusing on magnesium – one of the four most abundant minerals in the body; required for over 300 chemical reactions including the support of energy production, neurotransmitter production, bone formation, glucose and insulin metabolism, and even supporting the regulation of the heartbeat rhythm. With so many critical roles, it’s no surprise that this powerful mineral has been used successfully for years to support countless health conditions and symptoms; we decided it was time to add a high quality magnesium supplement to our range of bioavailable supplements.

Here are just a few of the crucial roles magnesium performs in the body:

Magnesium supports energy production, muscle function, psychological function, the nervous system and over 300 chemical processes in the body

Supports energy production: magnesium plays a role in converting carbohydrates, proteins and fat into energy for the cells, and is even required to help the body convert the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids obtained from the diet, to the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, making it particularly important for those relying on plant-based sources of omega-3s.

Supports muscle function: allowing for contraction and relaxation of muscles, which in turn facilitates movement, as well as supporting the muscles of the heart and regulating the heartbeat.

Supports normal psychological function: magnesium is one of the essential nutrients, along with zinc and vitamin B6, required for neurotransmitter production, with a deficiency of magnesium associated with anxiety.

Supports the nervous system: magnesium can inhibit the action of glutamate, the excitatory neurotransmitter, and support the actions of GABA, a neurotransmitter which has a calming and relaxing effect in the body important through times of stress. (1)

Supports cell division: rejuvenating and building body tissue, including skin, muscle and bone; essential for recovery.

Supports electrolyte balance: as one of the most abundant electrolytes in the body, magnesium is one of the essential minerals required to allow water to enter and hydrate the cells, as well as carrying an electrical charge needed for nerve impulses.

Converts vitamin D to its most active form: in turn supporting calcium absorption. Both calcium and magnesium are important for the health and maintenance of bones and teeth, with around 53% of the body’s magnesium stored in bones. With 40% of peak bone mass formed during adolescence, it is easy to see how magnesium is not just important for later life, but also early on to support the prevention of disease. (2)

Why the diet may not be a sufficient source of magnesium

Sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and many more plant based foods

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate 60% of the population are not meeting a daily adequate intake of 300mg of magnesium (the UK-recommended intake is set higher, at 375mg) (BNF). With food sources of magnesium including dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, rice and legumes you would expect the diet to provide a sufficient amount of magnesium to meet daily requirements. However, when the typical Western diet provides little in terms of fruit and vegetables, it’s easy to see why so many are falling short. It’s interesting to note that the way in which foods are harvested is also important; spraying pesticides on non-organic crops, for example, may lead to depletion in the levels of magnesium in the soil as chemicals such as glyphosate bind to minerals and therefore reduce the food content of important minerals. (1)

The typical Western diet is also rich in highly refined and processed foods which also deplete levels of magnesium from food sources. Other factors affecting magnesium status include typical at-home food preparation methods such as boiling and frying foods which deplete magnesium levels (1); the consumption of oxalates from foods such as rhubarb, spinach and chard, and phytates from cereals and legumes which can also reduce the absorption of magnesium (3); consuming a diet high in salt and sugar which can deplete the body’s levels of magnesium (4); and finally, consuming carbonated drinks which are high in phosphoric acid. (2) Whilst water can also be a source of magnesium, levels of essential minerals (including magnesium) vary depending on the source of water, with tap water containing much lower levels than mineral water, and filtered water containing even lower levels than tap water.

Minerals such as magnesium can be depleted through lifestyle factors including alcohol consumption, stress and sweating

Magnesium is also depleted by lifestyle factors such as stress, use of the oral contraceptive pill, alcohol consumption, and the use of diuretics (because magnesium status is under tight control by the kidneys – the more you urinate, the more you lose). It is estimated that roughly 10-15% of magnesium is lost via sweat, and whilst the UK isn’t known for its hot climate, sweating is a natural process that occurs throughout the day and even during sleep, with exercise also responsible for increased depletion (due to sweating), as well as higher requirements for magnesium to support muscle contraction and relaxation. (1) During times of stress and anxiety, the body has a higher requirement for magnesium and therefore the body releases magnesium from stores to provide support to the nervous system. (1) Prolonged periods of stress and anxiety may therefore require much higher magnesium levels than the UK recommended daily intake of 375mg.

To summarise, unless we are eating organic whole foods on an almost daily basis, have optimal digestion, and are not stressed, experiencing ill health or issues associated with old age, our daily nutritional needs for magnesium are likely not met by food alone. When the body doesn’t obtain sufficient magnesium from the diet, it releases magnesium from the bones (53% of the body’s magnesium is stored in bones, and the rest in the body’s soft tissue, mainly muscles and organs), and the magnesium content of bone – acting as a reservoir for maintaining magnesium homeostasis – decreases with age.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

As magnesium is required to support such a wide array of functions within the body, deficiency symptoms vary widely. Due to its role in energy production, low levels of magnesium may be associated with feelings of fatigue; its role in muscle contraction and relaxation may be associated with muscle aches, weakness, cramps, spasms (including eye twitches) and constipation, as magnesium also supports the relaxation of the muscles in the digestive tract. Low levels of magnesium are also associated with PMS symptoms, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraine headaches and osteoporosis. (5-8)

Introducing Triple Magnesium Complex

Since there are many factors that affect how well magnesium is absorbed, as we’ve explained above, we have formulated Triple Magnesium Complex specifically to overcome issues around absorption, bioavailability and retention, ensuring that you can obtain sufficient levels of magnesium in your diet. Triple Magnesium Complex launches this month, containing a trio of powerful magnesium forms: magnesium citrate, magnesium taurate and magnesium bisglycinate, all of which are fully reacted to offer superior bioavailability.

Providing these three forms of magnesium also offers the benefits associated with citrate, taurate and bisglycinate as carriers, thereby supporting energy production, muscle function, electrolyte balance, nervous system function and normal psychological function.

By using a combination of three magnesium forms, Triple Magnesium Complex offers multiple absorption channels to increase bioavailability, whilst not having to rely on the pH of the gut and the presence of stomach acid, therefore overcoming digestive issues. Free from commonly available magnesium oxide, Triple Magnesium complex is also gentle on the stomach, with no laxative effect. Triple Magnesium Complex provides a total elemental magnesium content of 195mg per 3 capsules, recommended as a split-dose to offer increased bioavailability.

Want to compare Triple Magnesium Complex against your current magnesium supplement?

Choosing a supplement can often be quite scientific; if you enjoy the science, check out Dr Nina Bailey’s magnesium article available on the practitioner blog. For those who want the highlights, here is a brief summary.

  • Triple magnesium, triple action: There are many different forms of magnesium to choose from (magnesium taurate, glycinate, bisglycinate and so on), and each form has its own uptake pathway at different sites in the gut that can become saturated. By offering multiple forms of magnesium, Triple Magnesium Complex allows for multiple pathways to be utilised so that no one pathway becomes saturated. The more pathways, the higher amount of magnesium that gets absorbed – especially compared with supplements offering a single form
  • Fully reacted magnesium supplements offer great bioavailability: A fully reacted formula, one that is chemically bound to its carriers, rather than being fully or partially blended with the carrier (for example magnesium citrate, rather than magnesium oxide plus citric acid), is far more bioavailable because it is effectively “fast-tracked” through the digestive system and is not dependent on stomach acid levels for absorption, which is important for those with high/low stomach acid and gastrointestinal issues. Fully reacted magnesium also does not contain any poorly absorbed magnesium oxide,  the most common form of magnesium and the form known for having a laxative effect! Even buffered magnesium citrate can contain magnesium oxide – so if you want to avoid oxide, always look out for a magnesium supplement labelled as “fully reacted”.
  • Elemental vs total magnesium: Different forms of magnesium contain different levels of elemental magnesium (the actual fraction that is magnesium, not bulk). Whilst many supplement providers only advise the total magnesium on labels, since this makes the dose appear to be higher, we like to make it clear that 100mg of magnesium does not mean 100mg of elemental magnesium. For example, magnesium oxide contains 6Triple Magnesium Complex contains a total of 1893mg of magnesium per 3 capsules, 195mg of which is elemental magnesium.
  • Choosing the most effective dose: magnesium levels are tightly regulated so our capacity for absorption is easily reached. When dosing with magnesium, less is more. The more you ingest in one go, the more your body will excrete. Be ‘supplement-smart’ and split your dose for increased magnesium absorption.

Tip: We know it can be difficult to remember to take supplements three times a day, so we recommend either leaving your bottle in your kitchen or on your desk at work to prompt you to take it when you eat.

Nutrition support

Want to know if Triple Magnesium Complex is right for you? Feel free to contact our team of nutritionists who are available on our LiveChat facility or via email. If you feel like you could benefit from more extensive support from our nutritionists, please feel free to book an online consultation via MyOnlineCLINIC for a time most convenient for you, and from the comfort of your own home.

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  1. Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The importance of magnesium in clinical healthcare. Scientifica 2017:4179326,
  2. Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & natural supplements – an evidence-based guide, 4th ed. Chatswood: Elsevier Australia, 2015.
  3. Bohn Dietaryfactors influencing magnesium absorption in humans. Current Nutrition & Food Science. 2008 4: 000
  4. Johnson S. The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency. Med Hypotheses 2001;56(2):163-170.
  5. Gums JG. Magnesium in cardiovascular and other disorders. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004 Aug 1;61(15):1569-76. Review.
  6. Tong GM, Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency in critical illness. J Intensive Care Med. 2005 Jan-Feb;20(1):3-17. Review.
  7. Eby GA, Eby KL. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium t Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-70.
  8. Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):378S-83S.


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Maxine Sheils

About Maxine Sheils

Maxine is a Nutritional Therapy graduate of the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Manchester who has recently joined Igennus as a customer support nutritionist and is based here in Cambridge. Her interest in nutrition was sparked after working as an au pair in Australia to a family who were living on a raw food diet where coincidentally, she started to endure severe digestive problems. She joined CNM as a student to further her new found passion and was able to support her own body in regaining health. Maxine is passionate about nutrition and her ability to help others achieve their optimal health. She specializes in female hormonal problems such as endometriosis, thyroid problems, stress, autoimmunity and digestive disorders. Her degree in psychology provides her with a strong ability to understand and motivate others to achieve their health goals.

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