Magnesium For Infection


Magnesium is vital for many essential bodily functions, including neuromuscular function, bone health, and energy production. The body contains four times as much magnesium as any other mineral. More than 300 enzymatic reactions have it as a cofactor, essential for regulating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which stores energy in cells, in these processes. 

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using magnesium for treating infections, particularly respiratory infections such as the common cold and pneumonia. Because magnesium can help reduce inflammation, it may also have antimicrobial properties and help treat infections.

In this article, we will explore the relationship between magnesium and infection, including which forms of magnesium may be most effective, how much magnesium may be necessary for treating magnesium deficiency, and the potential side effects of using magnesium.

How does magnesium affect infection?

Our bodies keep more than half of the magnesium we consume in our bones, with the remainder deposited in tissues throughout various parts of the body. Magnesium is necessary for synthesising protein, DNA, and RNA and for sexual health and reproduction. Additionally, magnesium is essential for controlling cardiac excitability, blood pressure, insulin metabolism, nerve conduction, vasomotor tone, and muscle contraction.1

The effective functioning of white blood cells, (which are in charge of battling infections and inflammation control) a crucial component of the immune system's reaction to infection, depends on adequate magnesium levels. Some studies have shown that low magnesium levels can increase the risk of infection, and slow down the healing process. For example, low magnesium levels have been linked to an increased risk of respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and sepsis.2,3

Furthermore, research has shown that magnesium may have antimicrobial properties, which means it may be able to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. For example, one study found that different magnesium sulphate concentrations effectively killed Campylobacter jejuni, a species of Escherichia coli, and Salmonella. These most common food-borne bacteria cause various illnesses that could be fatal.4 

Our bodies cannot produce the necessary magnesium, so we must eat foods high in magnesium frequently. We can obtain magnesium through fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole-grain cereals, but in small quantities. You may choose to take supplements to get the required daily dose. Supplementing with magnesium is also beneficial when taking some medications, such as diuretics and proton pump inhibitors.5

Which magnesium is best for infection?

Magnesium comes in a variety of forms in foods and dietary supplements. It is still being determined which form is the most effective for treating infections; more research is needed to ascertain the best option. The different types include

  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium sulphate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium lactate
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium taurate

The magnesium kind that best suits your requirements is what you should pick. Both their absorbability and intended uses vary between these forms. While there is conflicting evidence about their absorption, it has been demonstrated that magnesium citrate and glycinate are more effectively absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulphate.

Magnesium chloride and magnesium sulphate (also known as Epsom salt) are popular choices for topical application or to treat some skin conditions.5 You can make magnesium sulphate paste and apply it to the target area or use it in a scrub or for a foot soak.

How much magnesium should I take for infection?

The immune system is regulated by magnesium in several ways, including by orchestrating the activity of immune cells like macrophages and neutrophils, activating T cells which protect the body from and fight infections, primarily through the Magnesium transporter protein (MagT1) gene, and controlling vitamin D activity. Magnesium enhances the body's first line of defence against pathogen invasion and protects against viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 infection, Epstein-Barr virus, and COVID-19. The improved immune function brought on by magnesium's role in vitamin D activation can lessen the severity of the cytokine storm, an extreme inflammatory response, in COVID-19 infection.6

An association between low serum magnesium levels and an elevated risk of COVID-19 symptoms and mortality was found in a clinical trial of 83 hospitalised patients. A larger magnesium intake was linked to shorter hospital stays and recuperation times and a lower risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms, such as dyspnea, cough, fever, chills, weakness, myalgia, nausea, and sore throat.

If you have a magnesium deficiency, it is crucial to speak with your healthcare provider about the appropriate dosage for you. The recommended daily magnesium intake varies depending on a person's age and sex, and it may be different for people with certain health conditions or who are taking certain medications.7 Your healthcare provider can help you determine the correct dosage for your needs.

However, as a general rule for individuals aged 19 to 51 and over, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 400–420 mg for people assigned male at birth and 310–320 mg for people assigned female at birth. A daily intake of about 310–360 mg is required for lactating mothers and 320–400 mg for pregnant women between ages 14 and 50.8

The highest daily consumption that is not anticipated to have an adverse effect on health is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). Magnesium's UL is 350 mg per day from supplements only.8 

Side effects and other concerns

While magnesium is generally considered safe when taken in the recommended dosage, there are some potential side effects, especially when you have too much of it. What side effect you experience is determined by how much magnesium you have in excess. High levels of magnesium can cause side effects, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Facial flushing
  • Urinary retention
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Paralysis
  • Complete heart blockage

In rare cases, magnesium supplements may also cause allergic reactions or interfere with certain medications, such as antibiotics.3 Magnesium in excess from meals is harmless since the kidneys will excrete it in urine. Difficulties in excreting the extra magnesium can arise from kidney issues.

It is essential to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, including magnesium, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking other medications, to ensure that it is safe for you. You should consult your healthcare provider before taking magnesium glycinate, if you have kidney problems or linked immunodeficiency. Furthermore, it is crucial to follow the recommended dosage guidelines and not exceed the recommended daily intake.


Magnesium has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects and significant immune system function. White blood cells, tasked with warding off infections, are activated. An increased risk of infections has been linked to low magnesium levels, especially in older people and people who already have chronic conditions. Taking magnesium supplements can enhance the body's resistance to infection, especially in people with Epstein-Barr virus, respiratory infections, or low magnesium levels. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider and follow the recommended dosage guidelines to minimise the risk of side effects.


  1. Gröber, U., Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients, 7(9), 8199–8226. Available from:
  2. Kılıc, Hatice, et al. “The Relationship between Hypomagnesemia and Pulmonary Function Tests in Patients with Chronic Asthma.” Medical Principles and Practice, vol. 27, no. 2, 2018, pp. 139–44. (Crossref). Available from:
  3. Al Alawi, Abdullah M., et al. “Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions.” International Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 2018, 2018, pp. 1–17. (Crossref). Available from:
  4. He, Yiping, et al. “Study on the Mechanism of Antibacterial Action of Magnesium Oxide Nanoparticles against Foodborne Pathogens.” Journal of Nanobiotechnology, vol. 14, June 2016, p. 54. PubMed Central. Available from:
  5. Gröber, U., Werner, T., Vormann, J., & Kisters, K. (2017). Myth or Reality-Transdermal Magnesium?. Nutrients, 9(8), 813. Available from:
  6. Eskander, Mark, and Mohammed S. Razzaque. “Can Maintaining Optimal Magnesium Balance Reduce the Disease Severity of COVID-19 Patients?” Frontiers in Endocrinology, vol. 13, Mar. 2022, p. 843152. (Crossref). Available from:
  7. Tang, Chuan-Feng, et al. “Possibility of Magnesium Supplementation for Supportive Treatment in Patients with COVID-19.” European Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 886, Nov. 2020, p. 173546. PubMed Central. Available from:
  8. Schwalfenberg, Gerry K., and Stephen J. Genuis. “The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare.” Scientifica, vol. 2017, 2017, pp. 1–14. (Crossref),
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Chimezirim Ozonyiri

Bachelor of Science - BS, Microbiology, General, Tansian University, Nigeria

Chimezirim has several years of experience in the healthcare, non-profit, and education sectors. She is passionate about health promotion and began her journey into health and lifestyle writing over two years ago. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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