Magnesium For Joint Inflammation


Magnesium is the second most common trace mineral in your body which is responsible for carrying out various important functions such as production of energy and proteins, regulation of blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and bone development and maintenance, etc.

Deficiency of magnesium is usually found in those parts of the world where magnesium- rich foods are not readily consumed in the recommended amounts by the population and this deficiency is often associated with low- grade inflammation. 

Inflammation is characterised as an integral component of the body’s defence process or the immune system and can be either acute (severe but short duration) or chronic (persisting for a long time or constantly recurring).Although, in the event of a joint injury, a little inflammation is a part of the healing process and is considered a good sign but a lingering sensation of pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints for no apparent reason, continued over a period of time is termed as inflammatory arthritis. 

Millions of people of all ages are affected by arthritis and similar joint conditions in the UK.  Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common ones found among them.

How does magnesium affect joint inflammation?

Numerous researches have taken place to evaluate the relationship between magnesium and joint inflammation. However, the exact effect of magnesium on joint inflammation is yet to be established as research in this area is limited and controversial.

There is concrete evidence available that magnesium has a key role in regulating the activation of a group of proteins known as nuclear factor kappa-B that controls the body's inflammatory and immune responses. These proteins, when increased to more than normal levels or become overactive can lead to inflammatory disorders such as RA. Furthermore, magnesium has a regulatory role in systemic inflammation (inflammatory response throughout the body) and proinflammatory cytokine (cells that promote inflammation) production. All these factors are proven to strongly contribute towards the development of RA.2

A study conducted in the United States aimed to explore the relationship between dietary magnesium intake and RA in women and found a “U-shaped relationship”. i.e. When the dietary magnesium intake is between 181-446 mg/day approximately, it is associated with the lowest probability of RA with increasing probability occurring in both directions away from this range. They also highlighted that moderate intake of dietary magnesium by women with RA may possibly have a protective role. They also suggested that dietary policy makers should recommend dietary magnesium to women with a potential risk of RA in order to prevent or delay the onset of RA.2

Another study published in 2018 conducted on “magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation”, stated that there are various factors that determine the degree to which the deficiency of magnesium can cause low-grade inflammation, increasing the chances of developing a chronic disease. They concluded that despite variable factors playing their part in causing inflammation, magnesium’s role can be considered substantial.3 

Since magnesium has several important functions to perform in the human body, your body makes sure that it is freely available. When magnesium intake is low, its absorption from the diet is increased, whereas, the amount lost in urine is decreased, and the reserves in the body are used which are majorly found in bones. In the case of sufficient magnesium intake through diet, this mechanism is reversed. Due to this maintenance of magnesium homeostasis (a state of balance) in the body, it is hard to establish magnesium deficiency and its implications.3

How much magnesium should I take for inflammation?

By eating a balanced and varied diet you should be able to obtain all the magnesium required by your body to function normally. According to the National Health Service (NHS), the amount of magnesium you require is:

  • 270 mg a day for women aged 19 to 64 years, whereas 
  • 300 mg a day for men aged 19 to 64 years.

Which magnesium is best for inflammation?

Adequate amount of magnesium is available through various dietary sources such as:

  • Whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables - spinach and chard
  • Legumes 
  • Nuts - almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc.
  • Seeds - pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Fortified foods (foods that have minerals and vitamins added to them such as cereals)
  • Tap, mineral, and bottled waters4

Generally, dietary fibre providing foods contain magnesium. However, if supplementation is required, magnesium supplements are available in various forms. For example:4

  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium orotate
  • Magnesium lactate
  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium sulphate
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium threonate
  • Magnesium malate

How well your body absorbs these different kinds of magnesium supplements is variable, as different magnesium preparations tend to differ in absorbability as well. The best magnesium for you is the one that absorbs well in your body. The forms of magnesium which are well dissolvable in liquid are better absorbed by the gut too as compared to the less soluble forms of magnesium.4 

Consumption of organic magnesium forms such as lactate, citrate, aspartate,and chloride leads to better absorption than inorganic magnesium forms such as sulphate and oxide as claimed by certain studies. However more research required in this area because there are other studies available that show no imminent difference among the forms of magnesium in terms of bioavailability (the ability of a substance to be absorbed and used by the body).4

Besides the oral consumption of magnesium through diet and supplements, topical application (applied directly to a part of the body) is also an option, using magnesium oil, for instance.4

Side effects and other concerns

The most common side effect reported for taking high doses of magnesium i.e. exceeding 400 mg for a short duration of time, is diarrhoea; although, there is not ample evidence available to declare side effects of high doses of magnesium consumed for a longer period of time.

The Department for Health and Social Care recommends a well-balanced diet to get the required magnesium. However, if you choose to take magnesium supplements they recommend not to take too much as it could be harmful.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, magnesium can interact with some antacids, antibiotics, diuretics. and laxatives.


Magnesium is an important nutrient required by your body to stay healthy, especially your bones. A well- balanced diet ensures that your body has enough magnesium to function normally. Magnesium deficiency has been linked with joint inflammation, although its exact role is a topic of ongoing research. If required, you can top up magnesium either via oral supplements or topical use of magnesium oil. It is advisable to consume magnesium-rich foods to prevent or reduce inflammation, and bearing in mind that it is not the only factor responsible for joint inflammation, other causes should be considered too.


  1. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from:
  2. Hu C, Zhu F, Liu L, Zhang M, Chen G. Relationship between dietary magnesium intake and rheumatoid arthritis in US women: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2020 Nov 1 [cited 2023 Mar 3];10(11):e039640. Available from:
  3. Nielsen FH. Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. JIR [Internet]. 2018 Jan 18 [cited 2023 Mar 3];11:25–34. Available from:
  4. Razzaque MS. Magnesium: are we consuming enough? Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Dec [cited 2023 Mar 17];10(12):1863. Available from:
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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