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Magnesium & Digestion

author image Derek Buckner
Derek Buckner has been writing professionally since 2005, specializing in diet, nutrition and general health. He has been published in "Today's Dietitian," "Food Essentials" and "Eating Well Magazine," among others. Buckner is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and food science from Drexel University.
Magnesium & Digestion
A dark, leafy green salad. Photo Credit: saquizeta/iStock/Getty Images

Without magnesium, your body could not properly digest foods. Your body uses the mineral magnesium to aid in the digestion process and to help regulate copper, potassium, zinc, vitamin D and calcium levels within your body. Magnesium also helps muscles contract and activates enzymes that your body needs. Nuts, whole grains and leafy green vegetables contain magnesium.

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Digestion and Enzymes

Magnesium activates enzymes that assists the body absorb and use fats, proteins and carbohydrates, according to Carolyn Dean, M.D., author of “The Magnesium Miracle” and medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association. Magnesium is vital for the synthesis of protein and releases enzymes that help in catalyzing most chemical reactions in your body, such as regulating body temperature. Activating enzymes lets the body digest and break down food into smaller particles for energy.

Producing and Transporting Energy

Magnesium works to produce and transport energy during digestion. Magnesium activates an enzyme called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the fundamental energy storage molecule of your body. The Chinese refer to this as "qi" or energy flow, according to Dean. Magnesium allows your body to produce and store energy; without magnesium, there is no energy or movement, which means no life.

Magnesium Deficiency

You may not get enough magnesium if your diet is limited or does not include magnesium-rich foods. This can create a deficiency, leading to poor digestion, according to SpineUniverse. Other symptoms of a magnesium deficiency may include insomnia, rapid heartbeat and mental confusion. Women need approximately 310 mg to 320 mg of magnesium daily and men need between 400 mg to 420 mg of magnesium.


Do not take magnesium supplements without a physician's approval. Magnesium can interfere with some antibiotics, blood pressure medications, thyroid medications, diabetic medications and hormone replacement therapy. Do not take magnesium supplements if you have heart or kidney disease. Diuretics, caffeine, sugar, salt and alcohol can deplete magnesium levels.

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