Magnesium For Lungs


Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the human body, right after calcium, potassium, and sodium. It is also an essential nutrient that is necessary for a wide range of functions, including muscle function, DNA and protein synthesis, bone health, and blood pressure. It also helps to produce and store energy within cells, and contributes to reproduction.1 

The main source of magnesium is our diet. Some magnesium-rich foods include green vegetables, cereals, or nuts.2

Lungs are the central part of the respiratory system, which is responsible for bringing oxygen into the body and eliminating carbon dioxide. The lungs consist of small air sacs called alveoli, which are responsible for facilitating gas exchange between the environment and the bloodstream.3 Lungs can be affected by several factors, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, or environmental factors.4 

Role of magnesium for lungs

Magnesium plays an important role in the proper functioning of the lungs in that it:

  • Helps to control the contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles, including those in the bronchial tubes of the lungs, through hypomagnesemia and hypermagnesemia (high blood magnesium)
  • Has a bronchodilator effect (opens the airways) in patients with asthma
  • Inhibits nerve transmission in the airways
  • Stabilizes mast cells and T-lymphocytes, involved in inflammation processes
  • Increases the production of certain chemicals that help with blood flow and inflammation (such as nitric oxide and prostacyclin)2

Thanks to this, research suggests that magnesium may help reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and may also have a protective effect against asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory disorders. It may also be effective in improving symptoms such as coughing and wheezing.5 However, more research is needed to fully understand the role of magnesium in the lungs.6

Effect of low magnesium in lungs

Low magnesium levels in the body can have various impacts on the respiratory system. Some potential effects on the lungs include:

  • Increased risk of asthma: Low magnesium levels have been connected to a higher likelihood of asthma attacks and worsening of asthma symptoms.6,7 
  • Pulmonary edema: Low magnesium levels can impact the normal functioning of blood vessels and the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.9 As a result, this can lead to the development of pulmonary edema, which is characterized by breathing difficulties resulting from a fluid build-up in the lungs.10
  • Increased inflammation: A recent study has shown that low magnesium levels are linked to increased inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs.11 This can lead to respiratory issues such as COPD and respiratory infections.12
  • Increased COVID predisposition: Recent studies have found that hypomagnesemia may predispose individuals to COVID-19, which can lead to severe lung diseases.13

It is important to keep in mind that there is a need for more research to completely understand the role of hypomagnesemia in the lungs.

How much magnesium to take

Some foods that are high in magnesium include nuts, cereals, and leafy green vegetables.2 The recommended daily amount (RDA) of magnesium varies based on age and gender.  For those assigned female at birth (AFAB), the recommended daily intake is 400-420 milligrams. The recommended intake for those assigned male at birth (AMAB) is 310-320 milligrams.14 

It is important to consume the appropriate amount of magnesium daily to support optimal health and proper body function. These numbers can vary if you are pregnant or lactating. 14


Magnesium is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in the proper functioning and development of the human body. It is involved in over 300 chemical reactions within the body and is necessary for a wide range of functions, including that of the lungs. It helps control the contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles, has a bronchodilator effect in asthmatic patients, inhibits nerve transmission in the airways, and increases the production of certain chemicals that help with blood flow and inflammation. 

When a patient is hypomagnesemic, it can potentially affect the lungs through an increased risk of asthma, a worsening of asthma symptoms, pulmonary edema, increased inflammation, or increased covid predisposition. To prevent hypomagnesemia, it is important to respect the recommended daily amount (RDA) of magnesium. 


  1. Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health12. Adv Nutr [Internet]. 6 de maio de 2013 [cited 06-01-2023];4(3):378S-383S.
  2. J Britton et al. Dietary magnesium, lung function, wheezing, and airway hyperreactivity in a random adult population sample. The Lancet [Internet]. 1994;
  3. Haddad M, Sharma S. Physiology, lung. Em: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 06-01-2023].
  4. Lung diseases [Internet]. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. [cited 06-01-2023].
  5. Eskander M, Razzaque MS. Can maintaining optimal magnesium balance reduce the disease severity of covid-19 patients? Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) [Internet]. 29 de março de 2022 {cited 06-01-2023];13:843152.
  6. Kılıc H, Kanbay A, Karalezlı A, Babaoglu E, Hasanoglu HC, Erel O, et al. The relationship between hypomagnesemia and pulmonary function tests in patients with chronic asthma. MPP [Internet]. 2018 [cited 06-01-2023];27(2):139–44.
  7. Yukako Hashimoto et al. Assessment of Magnesium Status in Patients with Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Asthma [Internet]. 2000;
  8. Rowe BH, Bretzlaff JA, Bourdon C, Bota GW, Camargo CA. Intravenous magnesium sulfate treatment for acute asthma in the emergency department: a systematic review of the literature. Annals of Emergency Medicine [Internet]. 1 de setembro de 2000 [cited 06-01-2023];36(3):181–90.
  9. Chrysant SG, Chrysant GS. Association of hypomagnesemia with cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Int J Cardiol Hypertens [Internet]. 23 de abril de 2019 [cited 06-01-2023];1:100005.
  10. [cited 6-1-20232023].
  11. Malpuech-Brugère C, Nowacki W, Rock E, Gueux E, Mazur A, Rayssiguier Y. Enhanced tumor necrosis factor-α production following endotoxin challenge in rats is an early event during magnesium deficiency. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease [Internet]. 6 January 1999 [cited 06-01-2023];1453(1):35–40.
  12. Barnes PJ. Copd and asthma: effects beyond the respiratory system. Tanaffos [Internet]. 2012 [cited 06-01-2023];11(3):9.
  13. Faa G, Saba L, Fanni D, Kalcev G, Carta M. Association between hypomagnesemia, covid-19, respiratory tract and lung disease. The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal [Internet]. 17 de setembro de 2021 [cited 06-01-2023];15(1).
  14. Office of dietary supplements - magnesium [Internet]. [cited 06-01-2023].
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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Joana Carneiro

Masters of Public Health - Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Lisboa

Joana is a recent graduate, who has a Degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Master's Degree in Public Health. She has more than two years of experience working as a healthcare professional in both private and public settings and more than 4 years of experience working as a volunteer in a non-profit organization, helping disadvantaged communities. Joana is passionate about public health, specifically about everything related to health education, health communication and health equity.

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