Magnesium for Health and Disease Prevention

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. More than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites have been detected on human proteins,1 and it’s required no less than 500 different enzymes in your body.


If you don’t have enough magnesium, your body simply cannot function optimally, and insufficient cellular magnesium levels set the stage for deterioration of metabolic function that can snowball into more serious health problems.

For starters, magnesium is critical for the optimization of your mitochondria, which have enormous potential to influence your health, especially the prevention of cancer.

In fact, optimizing mitochondrial metabolism may be at the core of effective cancer treatment. But your mitochondrial function is also crucial for overall good health, energy, and athletic performance.

Magnesium resides in chlorophyll of plant. Very low green leave vegetables in diet, is a primary risk factor for magnesium deficiency.

In short, magnesium plays an important role in a wide variety of biochemical processes, including the following:

Creation of ATP2,3(adenosine triphospate), the energy molecules of your body

Action of your heart muscle

Proper formation of bones and teeth

Relaxation of blood vessels

Regulation of blood sugar levels

Activating muscles and nerves

Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats

Serving as a cofactor for RNA and DNA

It’s also a catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin

Mitochondrial Function Require Magnesium

Mitochondria are tiny organelles. All cells with nucleus contain mitochondria. Imagine cell as a country, mitochondria are like energy powerhouse of the cell. Muscle cells contain 200 – 400 mitochondria in a single cell. Heart muscle contain ten times more, 2000 – 4000 mitochondria. They reguire Co-enzyme Q10 and magnesium to function. Our organs need energy to function properly, and that energy is produced by the mitochondria in each cell.

Since mitochondrial function is at the very heart of everything that occurs in your body, optimizing mitochondrial function (and preventing mitochondrial dysfunction) by making sure you get all the right nutrients and precursors your mitochondria need is extremely important for health and disease prevention.

As explained by Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., Rhonda Patrick, is an American biochemist and science communicator. Currently a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF-Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute researched on the importance of magnesium. Patrick has done extensive research on the link between mitochondrial metabolism, apoptosis and cancer, and on the effects of hyperthermic conditioning on muscle growth.

Consumption of oxygen leads to ATP production for energy. As noted by Patrick, “You want your ATP production to exceed your ATP consumption, in order to enhance or maximize your performance and avoid muscle fatigue.”

You can increase your oxidative capacity in two ways:

  • Increasing the total number of mitochondria in your cellsby engaging in high intensity interval exercises. However, in order for new mitochondria to be created, you must have sufficient amounts of magnesium.
  • Increasing the efficiency of your mitochondriato repair damage and produce ATP. This process also requires magnesium as a co-factor.

Common Causes for Magnesium Deficiency

70 years ago were getting an estimated 500 milligrams (mg) of magnesium from the food we ate, courtesy of the nutrient-rich soil in which it was grown. Soil quality has reduced so much for the past 60 years due to bad farming habits, deplete magnesium in the soil.Today, estimates suggest we’re only getting 150 to 300 mg a day from our food supply.

Magnesium resides in chlorophyll of plant. Very low green leave vegetables in diet, rich in calories and poor in micronutrients is a primary risk factor for magnesium deficiency.

Increasing your magnesium intake may actually go a long way toward improving your condition, or warding off insulin resistance and diabetes in the first place. In one study,5 prediabetics with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by 71 percent.

A second study6 also found that higher magnesium intake reduces the risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and slows progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

According to the authors, “Magnesium intake may be particularly beneficial in offsetting your risk of developing diabetes, if you are high risk.” The mechanism by which magnesium controls glucose and insulin homeostasis appears to involve two genes responsible for magnesium homeostasis.7

Magnesium is also required to activate tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that functions as an “on” or “off” switch in many cellular functions and is required for the proper function of your insulin receptors.

As noted by Dr. Dean, it’s quite possible that magnesium insufficiency is part of why health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are so prevalent these days. It may also play a role in fibromyalgia,8 magnesium deficiency is a well-recognized factor in migraines.9

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Unfortunately, there’s no lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of your magnesium status. The reason for this is that only 1 percent of the magnesium in your body is found in your blood; 50 to 60 percent resides in your bones, and the remaining is in your soft tissues.

Since most of your magnesium is stored inside your cells and bone rather than in blood plasma, there are no satisfactory blood tests for assessing it. Hair analysis may reveal magnesium deficiency in the previous three months.

Other tests your doctor may use to evaluate your magnesium status include a 24-hour urine test or a sublingual epithelial test. Still, these can only give you an estimate of your levels, and doctors typically need to evaluate them in light of the symptoms.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency may include more frequent headaches, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, or weakness. Chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to far more serious symptoms such as:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms
  • Muscle cramps and contractions
  • Seizures
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Personality changes

These signs and symptoms are by no means an exhaustive list. In her book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” Dr. Carolyn Dean lists no less than 100 factors that will help you decide whether or not you might be deficient.