As identified by The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) and highlighted in our leading article “1 in 3 in UK suffer hidden hunger”, magnesium is one of the nutrients deficient in the average UK diet. (1)

  • Function

Magnesium is vital for a wide range of functions in human physiology. It is essential for all enzyme processes, particularly those involved in energy generation. (2) Thus, it contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It plays a role in processes important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle function, and normal heart rhythm. It is involved in normal protein synthesis, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation and psychological function. This mineral contributes to electrolyte balance and has a role in cell division. It is also associated with the maintenance of normal bones and teeth.(3,4) Magnesium regulates hundreds of biochemical reactions around the clock—which is why your body’s need for it is continual.

  • Deficiency

Apart from the aforementioned diet deficiencies, low magnesium levels (hypomagnesaemia) may be caused by many other physiological states, medical conditions and/or medicines (5):
-Certain malabsorption syndromes eg. Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and chronic diarrhoea.
-Medication: diuretics (furosemide), proton pump inhibitors eg. omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole. (6)
-Anorexia nervosa
-Diabetes (due to glucose-induced diuresis secondary to poor glucose control).
The above list is not exhaustive and the problem of deficiency might be much more complex. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythm, and coronary spasms can occur. (4,7)

  • Sources

Drinking water should account for around 10% of daily magnesium intake. (7) Nuts (primarily almonds) and green leafy vegetables such as spinach are the major source of this nutrient. Seeds and unprocessed cereals are also rich in magnesium. Legumes, meat, fish, wholegrain bread and brown rice have an medium magnesium content. Low concentrations are found in dairy products. (7,8) In theory, you should be able to get all of this vital element from healthy, balanced diet diet. However, processed foods have a much lower content than unrefined grain products. Consumption of processed food, boiled water, de-mineralized soft water, make most industrialized countries (UK) deprived of their natural magnesium supply. (7) Therefore, magnesium deficiency is not a new problem, but it is a growing one.

  • Supplementation

Now you are probably thinking to replenish the potential magnesium deficiencies in your diet with supplementation. Tempting, but first take into account that not all magnesium supplements are equal, and the absorption rate of numerous products varies. Some studies have found for example, that organic salts of magnesium (eg. magnesium citrate) are absorbed more completely and are more bioavailable than inorganic forms (magnesium oxide).(4) Therefore, organic salts of magnesium are also easier on the stomach and less likely cause gastrointestinal upsets. Generally doses of magnesium up to 400mg are safe and higher doses might have laxative effect. Long term effects of high magnesium supplementation haven’t been established. (8) According to the NHS, daily recommended intake is 270mg for women and 300mg for men. (8)

  • Conclusion

Magnesium coordinates hundreds of metabolic processes and it is essential to keep its optimum levels. We pharmacists support healthy balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and believe that supplements are intended to support a healthy diet and not replace it. However, in some cases, dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. If you wish to read about FeelGood Island’s comprehensive magnesium and vitamins supplement, please click on the picture below. Energy & Harmony contains three other nutrients deficient in the average UK diet: potassium, iron and vitamin B2.

Energy & Harmony , stress relief

Featuring: Magnesium Citrate, Potassium, Iron, Chromium, Coenzyme-Q10 and B-Vitamins

Available from:


  1. Department of Health. National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Available from:
  2. National Institute of Clinical Excellence. British National Formulary. Magnesium. Available from:
  3. European Commission. EU Register on nutrition and health claim. Magnesium. Available from:
  4. National Institutes of health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium – Fact Sheet for Health professionals. Available from:
  5. Patient. Magnesium Disorders. Available from:
  6. Medicines Complete. BNF. PPIs. Available from:
  7. Jahnen-Dechent W.,Ketteler M. Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney J (2012) 5 (Suppl_1): i3-i14. Available from:
  8. NHS Choices. Magnesium. Available from:
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