Magnificent Magnesium



The majority of Americans don’t reach the low RDA magnesium recommendation through a typical diet.  Lack of sufficient magnesium often manifests as reduced energy, poor sleep, increased muscle pain, frequent headaches, poor blood sugar handling, restlessness, anxiety, and various other symptoms. 

Magnesium is involved in more than 300 types of enzyme-driven reactions, including the production of ATP (energy) through the electron transport chain. With 50 to 60 percent of magnesium stored in bone, obvious signs of magnesium insufficiency (such as headaches and muscle spasms) may not appear for up to several months as magnesium bone levels are reduced or depleted.

With lowered magnesium available, the extent of cellular dysfunction depends on the degree of magnesium insufficiency.  If lack of magnesium hinders glycolysis, causing the insufficient break down of glucose, glucose levels  can remain elevated in the body.

Raised glucose levels promote the release of insulin by the pancreas. In the presence of continually high levels of glucose, insulin sensitivity may decline as insulin continues to be released. Elevated glucose and insulin levels lead to the effects of type-2 diabetes.  However, magnesium through diet and supplementation may help prevent the onset of and the severity of type-2 diabetes.

Adequate levels of magnesium are required to maintain calcium, potassium, and vitamin D levels.  Magnesium is also involved in glutathione synthesis. Glutathione is considered the master antioxidant. Without adequate glutathione, an accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, is likely. The build-up of ROS may lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and contribute to cell death. The prevalence of ROS is linked to a variety of diseases including cancer.

Green, leafy vegetables and almonds are excellent sources of magnesium.  How do you ensure you’re consuming enough magnesium every day? 

Here’s more information about magnesium, including foods that are great sources of magnesium:

Author: Laura Farnsworth, MS, CNS, CN, Integrative & Functional Nutritionist at


Geiger, H., & Wanner, C. (2012). Magnesium in disease. Clin Kidney J, 5(supp 1), i25-i38. Retrieved from

Insel, P., Ross, D., McMahon, K., & Bernstein, M. (2011). Nutrition (4th ed.). Jones and Bartlett Publishers: MA. Retrieved from

Pasternak, K., Kocot, J., & Horecka, A. (2010). Biochemistry of magnesium. J. Elementol., 15(3), 601-16. Retrieved from

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