Magnesium supplements counteract inflammation

- that is involved in atherosclerosis, rheumatism, and most other chronic diseases

Magnesium supplements counteract inflammationScientists from Mexico, Iran, and Australia have gathered data from several studies and focused on a certain protein that is a marker of inflammation in the body. According to the researchers, magnesium supplements can significantly reduce levels of this protein. Because magnesium deficiencies are widespread, it seems obvious to administer magnesium supplements as part of the anti-inflammatory treatment, especially because inflammation is not always easy to detect and may even set the stage for a host of other chronic diseases. It is important, however, to balance magnesium with calcium. This is a general rule both in the prevention and treatment of all chronic inflammatory conditions.

Magnesium is a co-factor of more than 350 different enzyme processes that control such things as the body’s energy turnover, the nervous system, our muscle function, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, the fluid balance, and bone health. The new study, which is published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design, reveals that magnesium has an anti-inflammatory role. This is backed by earlier studies showing that too little magnesium in the body, especially if there is also too much calcium, increases the risk of inflammation.

Magnesium deficiencies are widespread

We get most of our magnesium from sources like kernels, almonds, nuts, whole-grain, cabbage, and other solid vegetables. An estimated 70-80% of Americans lack magnesium, but magnesium deficiencies are also common in Denmark, and the problem mainly results from eating an unbalanced diet with too many refined foods. A large consumption of sugar, alcohol, and other stimulants plus diuretics and stress may also deplete the body’s levels of this essential nutrient. Insulin resistance that is characterized by impaired uptake of glucose in the cells may also deplete our magnesium levels, and in many cases, the above listed factors aggravate each other.

The meta-analysis

The researchers from Mexico, Iran, and Australia looked at 11 randomized, controlled studies. They focused on how the use of magnesium supplements affected blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation in the body.
When looking at the overall data, magnesium supplements did not seem to affect levels of CRP. However, when the scientists only looked at those study participants, who had elevated CRP levels, magnesium supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in levels of CRP. According to the researchers, this indicates that magnesium supplements may reduce levels of CRP in individuals with inflammation in the body. It is therefore obvious to use magnesium supplements as part of the anti-inflammatory therapy.

Magnesium, calcium, and inflammation

Magnesium’s anti-inflammatory effect is involved in several mechanisms. This was seen in earlier studies published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. When researchers depleted magnesium levels in rats, they could see after a few days that the rats developed clinical inflammatory syndromes that were characterized by an activation of white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages) and an increased production of cytokines and free radicals. On the other side, the inflammatory processes decreased as soon as the rats were fed sufficient amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium and calcium are antagonists, and it is therefore believed that the molecular basis for inflammation may be associated with too many calcium ions inside the cells. This “stresses” the cells and causes them to release different pro-inflammatory substances. Focus has traditionally been aimed at getting enough calcium to build strong bones and teeth, as these tissues contain around 99% of the body’s calcium. However, it is every bit as important to make sure that the amount of calcium in muscles, the liver, nerve tissue and other soft tissues is extremely small.

It is believed that the molecular basis for inflammation may be associated with too little magnesium and too much calcium inside the cells of soft tissue.

Magnesium controls the distribution of calcium

Magnesium is located in the cellular membrane where it functions as a “doorman” that controls how much or how little calcium enters the cell. Magnesium makes sure to maximize the calcium content in bones and teeth and minimize the calcium content in all the soft tissues. However, if we have a magnesium deficiency, we may not get enough calcium into our bone cells, leaving us at an increased risk of osteoporosis. At the same time, a lack of magnesium may increase our risk of having too much calcium in the cells of soft tissues. As mentioned earlier, this may stress the cells and cause inflammation. We may also experience tensions, cramps, and other serious conditions when there is too much calcium in the soft tissue.

Did you know that

  • there is nine times more calcium than magnesium in milk
  • too much calcium and too little magnesium can be bad for your health for a number of reasons

Inflammation, atherosclerosis, rheumatism, diabetes, and other chronic diseases

Chronic inflammation causes free radicals to assail the body. Free radicals are aggressive molecules with the ability to cause chain reactions that damage cells and cause disease and decay. Although inflammation is not something that you feel directly, it may wreak havoc in the entire body and set the stage for atherosclerosis, rheumatic diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic imbalances.
Both the new study and the earlier study on rats show that lack of magnesium may help account for the onset of inflammation and the development of many chronic diseases.

The balance between magnesium and calcium

As described, there is an intricate interplay between calcium and magnesium inside the cells. For that reason, it is vital to have the proper balance between the two nutrients. The calcium-magnesium ratio should ideally be 2:1. In Asia, however, where most people do not consume dairy products but eat more vegetables, the ratio is probably closer to 1:1. Not only does this balance seem to be better for bone health, it also seems to be effective for preventing inflammation and an array of chronic diseases rarely seen in Asia.


There is no problem in taking a magnesium supplement alone. However, never take a calcium supplement without including magnesium

A simple quality test of magnesium supplements

Some magnesium supplements contain a blend of organic and inorganic magnesium compounds to give a better effect. Still, this is no guarantee of their bioavailability. A good way to test your magnesium product is by putting a magnesium tablet in a glass of water and watching it dissolve. If it has dissolved in the water within a minute, you can be sure that it will have dissolved in the same amount of time – or faster – in your stomach. The fast dissolution of the tablet gives you a better guarantee that the body can absorb the nutrient.

Magnesium status measurements are often misleading

It is difficult to measure the body’s magnesium status, as one percent of our magnesium is found in the blood. The most accurate measurement is a so-called whole blood analysis that also measures the magnesium content inside the blood cells.


L-.E. Simental-Mendia et al. Effects of magnesium supplementation on plasma C-reactive protein concentrations: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2017

Stephen Daniels. Magnesium supplements show potential anti-inflammatory effects: Meta-analysis. 2017

Andrzej Mazura et al. Highlight Issus on cellular Regulation of Magnesium. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 2007

Helen Saul Case. Magnesium demper hyperaktivitet blant AD/HD-barn. Helsemagasinet Vitenskap og Fornuft. 2017

Fujita T, Fukase M. Comparison of osteoporosis and calcium intake between Japan and United States. PubMed. 2002