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The mineral magnesium (MG) is required by virtually every process in the body and deficiencies are fairly common. Stress can deplete the magnesium supplies as can excess tea and coffee.

What are the functions of magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that has a hand in many vital body functions including:

What are the signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency?

Most people have large stores of this mineral in their body. However, deficiencies are common in the elderly, heavy drinkers, pregnant women, and those who undertake regular strenuous exercise. Magnesium deficiencies can be caused by diseases or medications that interfere with the body's ability to absorb magnesium.

Even a very slight deficiency can cause symptoms that include:

Conditions and medications that may lead to a magnesium deficiency include:

Food sources of magnesium

Good food sources of magnesium are: legumes, nuts, whole grains, and certain vegetables.

Magnesium Toxicity

Magnesium toxicity is not a concern for most healthy people. However, people with kidney disease may develop toxicity. This is because the kidneys are responsible for regulating the level of magnesium in the blood. Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:

Very rarely symptoms of excess include, flushing of the skin, low blood pressure, thirst and shallow breathing.

Special notes


Since a significant amount of magnesium is stored in the bones, and one of magnesium's roles is to help keep bones healthy, it would make sense that magnesium would help protect bones from the thinning of osteoporosis. Several studies have suggested just that - magnesium supplementation may improve bone mineral density.

Tips for increasing your magnesium intake

To increase your intake of magnesium, try some of the following:


Magnesium is usually a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. Take 20-60 mg daily.

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome is now thought to be related to magnesium deficiency, when there are adequate levels in the blood but it is not absorbed into the cells. In such cases vitamin B6 may be necessary to help transport the magnesium across the cell membrane.