Many people unknowingly suffer from a magnesium deficiency. In many cases, too little magnesium is ingested as part of the diet, although an increased requirement for magnesium or increased excretion thereof can be responsible for the deficiency.

Options for additional intake of magnesium

In principle, three different options exist for the body to ingest magnesium in addition to the diet:

  • Intravenous injection
  • Oral ingestion as a tablet, dragee or drink
  • External application (transdermal) as a spray, gel or bath addition

Magnesium through the skin

External, so-called transdermal magnesium application (magnesium absorption via the skin) opens a new chapter in magnesium substitution. Although it is easy to administer, as for oral dosage of magnesium, its effectiveness is greater and more reliable, as the digestive system is bypassed. The associated problems, such as poor reabsorption or diarrhoea in the case of higher doses are eliminated with external application.

Treated as a secret tip among top athletes just a few years ago, the transdermal application of magnesium oil is enjoying ever greater popularity, also for the daily magnesium substitution. Particularly for people who do not tolerate magnesium well orally or do not absorb enough, as is the case with older people, this form of application has proven reliable. The domain of magnesium oil is however the direct acute treatment of muscular problems such as muscular cramps, sore muscles, Restless Legs and the like. No wonder that this form of application is highly appreciated, in particular by athletes and people who suffer from muscular cramps.


  • No resorption problems in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Dosage according to individual requirement possible
  • Free of dose-dependent side effects (such as diarrhea)
  • Fast effectiveness
  • Direct application to problem zones possible
  • Does not need to be ingested
  • Ideal for athletes for the direct treatment of problem zones


  • Possible skin irritations

Ingesting magnesium

The most common forms of magnesium dosage are tablets, dragees, granulate or liquid, as these are easy to administer and are inexpensive. Various magnesium salts are available, although the common issue is that only a fraction of the administered dose of magnesium can be absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract. There is limited scope for increased dosage, as this can have side-effects such as diarrhoea. In addition, the percentage of magnesium absorbed decreases in proportion to the concentration in the intestine.

The simplest and most inexpensive magnesium salt is the inorganic oxide, which also has the highest proportional mass of magnesium. This oxide can however only be broken down in an acidic environment, that is, in the stomach. The prerequisite for the extraction of pure magnesium is therefore the presence of sufficient gastric acid. Organic magnesium salts such as the citrate, (hydrogen) aspartate or orotate are not only soluble independent of the acidity in the stomach, but are better reabsorbed in the small intestine.

In addition, the orotate salt has an independent, favourable pharmacological effect in the case of cardiovascular diseases. Numerous studies show that magnesium substitution using tablets, capsules, dragees or a granulate does not provide an immediate effect. It is only after longer, continuous use over months that measurable results can be achieved.


  • Uncomplicated, simple handling
  • Overdosing is practically impossible due to the laxative effect.
  • Because of the laxative effect, the ideal dosage form for people with a tendency to constipation.


  • Poor resorption in the gastrointestinal tract (only approximately 30 percent)
  • Influencing of the resorption with certain food products
  • Dosage may be limited due to the laxative effect.

Magnesium infusions

Intravenous infusion of magnesium is the fastest and most effective way to remedy a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is administered after a recent heart attack, for example, to prevent further damage to the heart. It widens the blood vessels, reduces cramps and widens constricted arteries. However, it is not only heart attack patients who benefit from a magnesium infusion. Anyone can profit from magnesium, as the effects are immediate. After infusion, the body experiences a wave of warmth.

No other dosage form raises the magnesium level as quickly and effectively. Applications as part of a treatment programme are recommended, for example one infusion every day for five consecutive days. However, a doctor should be consulted in this regard where magnesium is ingested on a continuous basis.

The body’s capacity to store magnesium is limited, and this daily dosage form should be reserved for extreme situations or as part of a treatment programme.


  • Immediate effect
  • 100 % bio-available
  • No resorption disorders as with the oral intake
  • The fastest and most effective form to remedy the magnesium deficiency
  • Alternative dosage form for digestive disorders in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Suitable for emergency situations
  • No side effects to be expected with proper application


  • Visit to the doctor is necessary, no self-medication possible
  • Invasive procedure, which always involves a certain risk
  • Not suitable as permanent substitution, rather reserved for applications as a course of treatment or emergency situations
  • Overdosing with corresponding symptoms is possible.

Magnesium content of foodstuffs

The magnesium content of foodstuffs has decreased to an extremely large extent over the last 50 years. This is due on the one hand to the impoverished soil in which plants grow (as a result of monoculture and excessive use of fertiliser), and on the other to intense processing of foodstuffs. For example magnesium and other valuable substances are contained in the outer husks of grains and rice. Once these are removed, the magnesium is automatically removed from the foodstuff.

In the case of flour, the whiter it is, the more refined it is, with a concomitant loss of magnesium. Polished rice, for example, contains only one fifth of the original magnesium content of brown rice. Starch derived from maize, which is used as the basis for a number of processed foodstuffs such as puddings, biscuits, fruit yoghurt, sweets, ready-made soups or cakes, contains only three percent of the magnesium originally present in maize kernels. However, of all the industrially processed products, it is sugar for domestic use that suffers the most from magnesium loss: Ninety-nine percent of the original magnesium content of sugar cane is lost during the processing of sugar.

The magnesium content of natural foodstuffs can also vary widely, depending on the degree of sustainable soil management practised by the cultivator. Consequently, the values provided here should be seen as a general orientation only.

Foodstuffs mg Magnesium/100 g Foodstuffs
Bran 550
Pumpkin seeds 532
Sunflower seeds 420
Almonds 300
Chocolate 290
Cashew nuts 267
Buckwheat 229
Sesame seeds 200
Peanuts 183
Walnuts 158
Brown rice 157
Oats 140
Beans, white 130
Tofu 111
Whole wheat bread 85
Foodstuffs mg Magnesium/100 g Foodstuffs
Spinach 80
Figs 71
Pasta 67
Bananas 36
Emmentaler cheese 33
Salmon 29
Trout 27
Potatoes 25
White bread 20
Chicken 19
Yoghurt 17
Full cream milk 10
Apples 4
Honey 0,6