Magnesium in diet


Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition.


Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heartbeat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps adjust blood glucose levels. It aids in the production of energy and protein.

There is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. However, taking magnesium supplements is not currently advised. Diets high in protein, calcium, or vitamin D will increase the need for magnesium.

Food Sources

Most dietary magnesium comes from dark green, leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good sources of magnesium are:

Side Effects

Side effects from high magnesium intake are not common. The body generally removes extra amounts. Magnesium excess most often occurs when a person is:

Although you may not get enough magnesium from your diet, it is rare to be truly lacking in magnesium. The symptoms of such a shortage include:

Lack of magnesium can occur in people who abuse alcohol or in those who absorb less magnesium including:

Symptoms due to a lack of magnesium have three categories.

Early symptoms:

Moderate deficiency symptoms:

Severe deficiency:


These are the recommended daily requirements of magnesium:


*AI or Adequate Intake



Review Date: 2/2/2019
Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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