Ian Marber: The lowdown on magnesium

Dr Ian Marber: The lowdown on magnesium

            Along with calcium, magnesium is the most prolific mineral found in the human body. We store around 30mg, most of which is found in bones and muscles, yet it’s a mineral considered essential for a wide range of processes and functions. 

Why is Magnesium important to your body?

Magnesium’s role in maintaining normal bone health is well established. It’s an important co-factor in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and works in tandem with vitamin D to enhance bone density, as well as strong teeth. It does this by helping form the structure of bones, which calcium and other minerals can slot into. 

But magnesium also plays a pivotal role in energy production in several ways. It helps in the breakdown of foods, especially in protein synthesis, and in the creation of adenosine triphosphate, or ADP, which is the body’s primary energy molecule. In this way, magnesium contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.

It also contributes to normal muscle function by regulating muscle contractions, notably the relaxation phase, by balancing calcium levels in the muscle cells. Having optimum magnesium levels can help reduce uncomfortable muscle cramps and spasms.


You can find magnesium in many foods:

  • nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, pumpkin and chia seeds
  • legumes such as black beans, soy/edamame and cannellini beans
  • whole grains including oats, brown rice and quinoa 
  • dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, spring greens and kale 
  • fruits such as bananas, berries and papaya, as well as avocado
You’ll also find magnesium in cocoa, so dark chocolate is a richer source than milk. Do remember though, that dark chocolate also contains more caffeine and so it’s not an ideal after-dinner treat.

If you choose to take a magnesium supplement, start with a modest amount, increasing to the recommend dose over a few days.

Disclaimer: Food supplements should not be used instead of a varied balanced diet & healthy lifestyle.