As with all functions within the body, maintaining a balance is fundamental for optimal operation. This is especially true when regarding magnesium; a well-maintained regulation of the magnesium balance can improve cognition (thinking), motor skills (movement), respiration (breathing), and inflammation, to name a few.
Magnesium deficiency is a common issue, with an estimated 25% of people in the United Kingdom not getting enough magnesium in their diet due to the population eating a more processed food diet. 1 Magnesium deficiency can lead to several health issues, including increased inflammation which is a significant contributor to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, magnesium has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potentially valuable tool in managing inflammation-related conditions.²
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is critical in maintaining overall health. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of magnesium for inflammation, including how it affects inflammation, which forms of magnesium are best for inflammation, how much magnesium should be taken, and the potential side effects and concerns.
How does magnesium affect inflammation?
Magnesium plays a role in regulating inflammation by controlling the activity of enzymes involved in the inflammatory process and affecting the activation of specific immune cells. Magnesium also helps decrease oxidative stress , which significantly contributes to inflammation.²
The body's natural response to injury or infection is inflammation, characterised by the five cardinal signs of calor (heat), rubor (redness), tumour (swelling), pain, and loss of function, caused by increases in blood flow to the affected area and white blood cell count, along with heightened production of inflammatory molecules such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
Magnesium is involved in the regulation of many enzymes that are involved in the inflammatory process. It helps to inhibit the activity of enzymes involved in the production of inflammatory molecules. Magnesium also helps to reduce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the activity of such gene transcription factors as nuclear factor-kappa B ( NF-κB), which are key regulators of inflammation.²
The role magnesium has in regulating the immune system cannot be overstated. Magnesium helps to reduce the activity and replication of immune cells, whilst also helping to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines which play a vital role in the inflammatory response.
In addition to its role in regulating the inflammatory process, magnesium also has been found to have an impact on markers of chronic inflammation. One of the most widely used markers of chronic inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a protein produced by the liver.. High levels of serum CRP in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.¹
Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency is associated with an increase in CRP levels. One study found that individuals with low magnesium levels had higher levels of CRP compared to those with normal magnesium levels. Another study found that magnesium supplementation reduced CRP levels in individuals with metabolic syndrome.²
Additionally, magnesium helps decrease oxidative stress, which significantly contributes to inflammation. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and the body's antioxidant defence mechanisms. Magnesium helps to scavenge and reduce free radicals, which can help to reduce inflammation.³
Which magnesium is best for inflammation?
Several forms of magnesium are available as supplements, including magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride. Each state has unique properties and potential health benefits.
Magnesium glycinate is considered one of the best forms of magnesium for reducing inflammation. It is well-absorbed by the body and has a high bioavailability, meaning that it is quickly taken up by cells. Additionally, it has a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, contributing to inflammation.
Magnesium oxide is another form of magnesium that can effectively reduce inflammation. It is also well-absorbed by the body but has a lower bioavailability than magnesium glycinate.
Magnesium citrate is another form of magnesium that can effectively reduce inflammation. It is also well-absorbed by the body, has a high bioavailability, and has a laxative effect that can help relieve constipation.
Magnesium chloride has also been found to have an impact on markers of chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation. High levels of serum CRP in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Dietary magnesium intake is also essential, as it plays a role in reducing inflammation. Whole foods, such as leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, are good sources of magnesium, but it can be challenging to consume enough magnesium from food alone.
How much magnesium should I take for inflammation?
The recommended daily magnesium intake varies based on age, sex, and other factors. However, the recommended daily magnesium intake for adults is between 310-420 mg/day.3
For treating inflammation, the recommended dosage of magnesium can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the inflammation. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance and to monitor the magnesium levels in the body.
A general guideline for oral magnesium supplements is to take between 250 and 600mg.4
Topical magnesium chloride can also be used to reduce inflammation. The usual recommended dosage is to apply magnesium oil or magnesium cream on the affected area, following the product's instructions.
It's also important to note that magnesium can interact with certain medications, so it's essential to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen. Additionally, magnesium levels can be affected by certain medical conditions, so it's necessary to have your levels checked by a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.
Side effects and other concerns
Taking magnesium supplements can have some side effects and other concerns to consider. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Diarrhoea: Magnesium can act as a laxative and cause diarrhoea, especially if taken in large doses
- Nausea: Some people may experience nausea when taking magnesium supplements, especially on an empty stomach
- Interaction with Medications: Magnesium can interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medication, and diuretics, so it's essential to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen
- Kidney problems: People with kidney problems should be careful when taking magnesium supplements, as the kidneys are responsible for removing excess magnesium from the body
- Hypermagnesemia: In rare cases, taking too much magnesium can lead to hypermagnesemia, a condition characterised by high magnesium levels in the blood. Symptoms of hypermagnesemia include nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and muscle weakness
- Allergic reactions: Some people may have allergic reactions to magnesium supplements, such as hives, itching, and difficulty breathing
- Interference with the absorption of other minerals: Magnesium can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, such as calcium, zinc, and iron
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including the regulation of inflammation. Adequate magnesium intake can help balance calcium levels and reduce inflammation. Magnesium supplements such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride and magnesium citrate are effective forms of magnesium for reducing inflammation.
- King DE, Mainous AG, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and c-reactive protein levels. Journal of the American College of Nutrition [Internet]. 2005 Jun [cited 2023 Jan 19];24(3):166–71. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2005.10719461
- Nielsen FH. Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. J Inflamm Res [Internet]. 2018 Jan 18 [cited 2023 Jan 19];11:25–34. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783146/
- Derbyshire E. Micronutrient intakes of british adults across mid-life: a secondary analysis of the uk national diet and nutrition survey. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2018 Jul 19 [cited 2023 Jan 19];5:55. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060686/
- Rosanoff A, Costello RB, Johnson GH. Effectively prescribing oral magnesium therapy for hypertension: A categorized systematic review of 49 clinical trials. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 10;13(1):195.
- Cunha AR, Umbelino B, Correia ML, Neves MF. Magnesium and vascular changes in hypertension. International Journal of Hypertension [Internet]. 2012 Feb 29 [cited 2023 Jan 19];2012:e754250. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijhy/2012/754250/