Executive Summary Video
Calcium and magnesium perform many important functions in our body individually. However, they work jointly to perform vital tasks such as:
- Contraction and relaxation of muscles
- Contraction and relaxation of blood capillaries
- Maintenance of cell membranes
- Building strong bones and teeth
Having one in sufficient quantity, and the other in inadequate amount, makes them incapable of performing the above duties. In fact, a deficiency of magnesium, with adequate calcium intake is a recipe for heart disease and kidney stones.
Also, it appears that the ratio of calcium to magnesium intake is important. Since the body needs about 1200 mg calcium and 400 mg magnesium a day, a ratio of 3 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium by weight is the minimum required.
If the ratio shifts towards magnesium, such as 2:1 or even more, it is more protective for cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancers such as colorectal, prostate, and esophageal, and total mortality (chances of dying).
Good sources of calcium are dairy products, figs, oranges, broccoli, and collard greens. Good sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans, fruits such as bananas, figs, and raspberries, vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts, peas, and cabbage, fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, nuts and seeds.
- While you need more than 1000 mg of calcium a day, your body cannot absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at any given time. So it is best to split the daily calcium intake over 3 to 4 rounds of consumption.
- If you take calcium and magnesium together in quantities of more than 250 mg at a time, they compete with each other for absorption in the intestines.
- So, you have two options:
A. Stagger calcium and magnesium intake more than one hour apart, if you are taking between 250 to 500 mg of calcium at a time;
B. Take 250 mg calcium and 80 mg magnesium combination together.
- While both options are beneficial, the former (option A) needs you to monitor and time your intake on a daily basis. For most people, that is too complex and time-consuming. In my opinion, the more the difficulty, the lesser is the compliance. So take option B.
- Since most people need 1200 mg calcium daily and get about 600 to 700 mg calcium from their diets, the deficit is of 500 to 600 mg of calcium. So one would need to take 250 mg calcium with 80 mg magnesium combination two to three times a day.
For More Reading
- Nutritional Magnesium Association: Too little magnesium can affect heart health
- MedicalNewsToday: Insomnia: Studies Suggest Calcium And Magnesium Effective
- EmersonEcologics: The Importance of the Calcium Magnesium Ratio (article and references)
- HealthLine: What Are the Benefits of Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc Supplements?
- MDLink: Dangerous duos: 5 supplement combos to avoid
First published on: 27th December 2021
Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
Last updated on: 20th April 2022
Can you please suggest good magnesium supplements? There are too many options out there.
I feel one should get a good multivitamin, multimineral supplement. No need to take a separate magnesium supplement because there is a risk of too much magnesium with a separate supplement (you already get enough through other sources).
The multimineral should be from natural or food sources. You do not want minerals from chemical sources, which have much lower bioavailability or absorption in the intestines.