Magnesium - for bulging muscles and a strong heart

Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for the production of energy in the body. 10 to 20 per cent of the world's population suffer from a deficiency. Magnesium is present sufficiently in numerous plant foods and beverages.

Imagine shaking someone's hand - and soon thereafter you're out of order for the rest of the day, your muscles are weak and your body lacks energy. This is what would happen if there was no magnesium in your body. This mineral is involved in energy production, as well as 300 other reactions in the body, including muscle relaxation and stimulation. If you don't get enough from your diet, do a lot of exercises or are pregnant, the risk of magnesium deficiency increases.

What you can expect in this article: Magnesium: The mineral magnesium is essential for the body's own energy production. It also supports cardiac function and bone formation. Plant foods such as legumes, nuts, wholegrain cereals and mineral water are suitable food sources.

Causes of magnesium deficiency:An increased need occurs during pregnancy, lactation and regular exercise. An unbalanced diet, constant stress and chronic illnesses can lead to a magnesium deficiency.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency: Numbness, muscle cramps, headaches, concentration problems and poor performance may occur.

Treatment: To treat a magnesium deficiency, you should include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. You can also take magnesium supplements with compounds such as magnesium citrate.

Magnesium surplus: Amounts of over 250 milligrams of magnesium per day can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body, which we ingest via our diet. Your body stores magnesium mainly in the bones, where about 60 per cent of the total magnesium content is found, followed by the muscles with 25-30 per cent.[1, 2].

Good to know: The earth's crust consists of two percent magnesium. As a result, the magnesium content in seawater is especially high. At the beginning of evolution all life developed in the sea - scientists suspect that for this reason almost all functions in organisms are dependent on magnesium.[1]

What effect does magnesium have on the body?

Without magnesium, the body would be unable to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the most important energy carrier with which all metabolic processes take place in the body. With the help of magnesium, muscles are also able to tighten and relax. In addition to calcium, magnesium plays an important role in the formation of bones and teeth[3]. Magnesium has the most important task in our heart: the mineral ensures a regular heartbeat[4].

Did you know? Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies are among the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and they also affect each other. If you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, magnesium intake is inhibited. Conversely, a magnesium deficiency can lead to a vitamin D deficiency[5].

Magnesium and muscle growth

Magnesiummangel nach dem Sport

Magnesium helps build muscle. This mineral stimulates protein biosynthesis - a process that enables muscle growth. British researchers observed in a study that volunteers who took magnesium supplements for a year after training were able to build up more muscle. Magnesium also supports fat loss. The mineral strengthens the activity of fat-degrading enzymes. It is recommended to take magnesium after exercise.[6, 7].

What is the daily requirement of magnesium?

According to the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society and the European Food Safety Authority, men should consume 350 milligrams of magnesium daily and women 300 milligrams. The daily requirement of magnesium increases to 310 milligrams during pregnancy and 390 milligrams during lactation.[8].

Which foods contain high levels of magnesium?

Lebensmittel mit viel Magnesium

Many plant-based foods contain a lot of magnesium. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, amaranth, quinoa and oat flakes are full of magnesium. But whole grain cereals, cocoa, bananas and pulses such as soybeans and peas also contain a lot of magnesium[9]. The results of the National Consumption Study show that we absorb a large part of our magnesium through mineral water, tea, coffee and beer.[10].

Good to know: How much magnesium our intestines absorb depends on how much is already present in the body: the lower our magnesium level, the more minerals are absorbed by our intestines.[6].

Food manufacturers have been enriching foods with magnesium for several years - especially those that naturally contain little magnesium. These include dairy products and some beverages. As a rule, about 15 percent of the recommended daily dose is contained in 100 grams, 100 milliliters or a portion pack. [11].

Magnesium deficiency - Causes

According to the German Federal Center for Nutrition, every fifth citizen of a European industrialized country consumes only 30 percent of the recommended daily magnesium amount.[12]. In adolescents and young adults, up to 40 percent actually consume too little magnesium. Nutritional surveys of people in Europe and the United States revealed that people there consume less magnesium than recommended by health authorities - despite fortified foods[6].

What leads to a magnesium deficiency?

Studies have shown that the following factors can cause magnesium deficiency[11, 13]:

  • Unbalanced nutrition
  • Increased requirement during pregnancy and lactation, menopause and in athletes
  • Chronic diseases of the intestine or kidneys and diabetes mellitus
  • Diarrheal illnesses
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Medication intake: proton pump inhibitors, birth control pills, antibiotics

Magnesium deficiency in athletes

Researchers found high magnesium losses in marathon runners. One study revealed that they had less magnesium in their urine after a competition than before. Researchers concluded that all people excrete more magnesium in their urine during strong physical activities[14]. The body needs more energy during exercise and thus up to 20 percent more magnesium[15, 16].

Magnesium deficiency - Symptoms

Eye twitches and cramps in the calves - These are the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency that everyone is familiar with. If our body lacks magnesium, it can also manifest itself in another way[17]:

  • Tingling and numbness sensations
  • Fatigue, insomnia, poor performance
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressive moods

In addition, long-term magnesium deficiency can lead to calcification of blood vessels and kidneys, cardiac arrhythmia and heart pain[4].

Magnesium deficiency - Treatment

Gesunde Lebensmittel mit viel Magnesium

To effectively combat magnesium deficiency, the consumption of magnesium-rich foods and magnesium supplements can help.

How do I fill my magnesium reserves?

If you want to top up your magnesium reserves, two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables a day are enough, as well as plenty of whole grain products. You can also eat a handful of nuts throughout the day for a magnesium-rich snack.[18].

You can cover your magnesium requirements with the following exemplary daily plan:

Food combination for optimal magnesium intake


two slices of whole grain bread with cream cheese, gouda, fresh parsley and a glass of whole milk


Spinach with potatoes and fish + mineral water

Magnesium preparations

In case of a deficiency, dietary supplements with magnesium are also an option. Magnesium is present in a variety of compounds, and no research has yet tested all the compounds and compared which one is best suited. Studies have shown that the following magnesium compounds should be considered for supplementation[19, 21]:

  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium orotate
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium chloride

Generally, if you have a magnesium deficiency, you should use dietary supplements for two to three months.[22].

Which magnesium is best for me?

In general, all these compounds can help improve your magnesium levels. However, studies have shown that these compounds may also help against other ailments - this may make it easier for you to choose a dietary supplement.[4, 19, 23, 28]:

Magnesium compound

helps with

Magnesium citrate

Constipation, kidney stones

Magnesium carbonate


Magnesium glycinate

Sleep disorders

Magnesium orotate (in combination with potassium)

Cardiac insufficiency, high blood pressure

 Tip: If possible, take magnesium supplements throughout the day. It is best to consume in the morning and evening. This improves absorption and reduces the risk of side effects.

Magnesium surplus

In general, you should never take more than 250 milligrams of magnesium per day in addition to your regular diet. According to the current recommendations of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), this is the maximum daily intake.

More than 22 percent of people taking magnesium supplements exceed the recommendation of an additional magnesium intake of 250 milligrams per day. Diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort can occur from a quantity of more than 300 milligrams of magnesium per day. A dose of over 2500 milligrams per day can even have very dangerous side effects such as drop in blood pressure or muscle weakness. However, severe magnesium poisoning is rare[11].

Magnesium Deficiency Test

Mineral Deficiency Test

If magnesium deficiency is suspected, the level should always be measured in whole blood. This means that not only the serum but all of your blood is tested. With our cerascreen® Mineral Deficiency Test you can measure your magnesium, zinc and selenium supply with less potting blood from your fingertip. After analysis in the laboratory, you will receive a detailed result report with recommendations for action to improve your levels, if necessary.

1.38 - 1.50 millimol per liter (corresponding to 34-36 milligrams per liter) are considered the optimum supply in whole blood.[29].

What can the results of a magnesium test tell me?

If you have a magnesium deficiency, your body will combat it: With a reserve of about 20 to 25 grams, most of it in the bones, it makes up for the deficiency. The magnesium from the bones migrates into the blood. Therefore, it is possible that the blood analysis initially shows values in the normal range, although a deficiency already exists. Only when your magnesium stores are exhausted will this be reflected in your blood test. A low magnesium value can therefore already be an indication of a significant magnesium deficiency.[30].

Magnesium and pregnancy

Studies have shown that the consumption of magnesium during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth. Magnesium relaxes the muscles of the uterus and prevents contractions and preterm labor. [31, 32].

Scientists have discovered that pregnant women and their children benefit further from sufficient magnesium intake. Among other things, the mineral can ensure that the child is born with a healthy birth weight. Magnesium also protects the child from possible brain damage.[32, 34].

Magnesium: At a glance

What are the functions of magnesium?

This mineral stimulates the body's own energy production and helps to transmit stimuli between cells. It also supports the heart muscles.

Which foods contain a large amount of magnesium?

Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, quinoa, amaranth, whole grain cereals and mineral water.

Who has an increased need for magnesium?

Athletes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with chronic diseases and the elderly have an increased need for magnesium. Excessive consumption of alcohol and nicotine also leads to an higher need.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

Muscle cramps, listlessness, headaches and nervousness can indicate a magnesium deficiency.

Which magnesium preparations are recommended?

Magnesium preparations containing the compounds magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium orotate and magnesium malate are best absorbed by the body.


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