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What You Need To Know About Magnesium

Magnesium 101

Jocko Fuel Blog What you need to know about Magnesium

You complete a grueling CrossFit session when you wake up or smash your lifting PR, get your steps in, drink 64 ounces of water—but are you fueling your body the right way to optimize gains? If you’re on a path to becoming stronger and healthier, you’re likely looking at your nutrition and how to supplement your diet. 

And you’ve probably come across the mineral magnesium. You’re in the right place—we’re breaking down everything you need to know about magnesium:

  • The Benefits
  • Signs of a deficiency
  • What to look for when shopping for a magnesium supplement
  • Three different forms of magnesium


    The Background

    What Is Magnesium?

    Magnesium is a mineral that lives mostly in our bones (50-60%) and soft tissue and can be found naturally in many foods—like spinach or almonds—or in supplements, like Advanced Mag. It’s a powerful mineral that plays a role in helping carry out vital chemical reactions in the body, like:

    • Regulating muscle and nerve functions.
    • Making the heart beat steadily.
    • Building strong bones.
    • Contracting muscles.
    • Regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.
    • Building proteins.
    • Converting food into energy.

    Aside from acting as a helper molecule to the enzymes carrying out all those chemical reactions, magnesium is rich in benefits.

    What Are The Benefits Of Magnesium?

      1. It Can Improve Mental Health

      Magnesium helps manage how your body responds to stress, and there’s a clear connection between the two: stressed people have lower blood levels of magnesium. Why? Because your body uses more magnesium when you’re stressed.

      Studies show that magnesium can also improve symptoms of depression and anxiety by “[reducing] the release of stress hormones like cortisol,” says Scott Keatley, R.D. and co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. He summed it up as “a natural chill pill that can help keep our body’s stress response in check.” 

      2. It Can Help You Sleep Better

      According to, magnesium is so effective at helping us sleep because it binds to receptors in our central nervous system and activates GABA, the main neurotransmitter for sleep regulation. 

      A 2022 study found that people with high magnesium intakes—both dietary and through supplements—were the most likely to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. And when you’re well-rested, you can perform better, whether it’s in the gym or during a 10K race.

      3. It can help with headaches and migraines

      Magnesium plays such a critical role in minimizing migraines that a deficiency is considered a risk factor for migraines. It works to prevent blood vessels from narrowing and stop brain signals that cause headaches. Countless studies have shown that magnesium lessens the severity of headaches and migraines while reducing their frequency.

      4. It can support healthy bones

      Most of the magnesium in our bodies lives in our bones, so it’s no surprise that it’s a key contributor to bone density and health. It helps absorb vitamin D (crucial for bone health) and allows your body to create osteoblasts—bone tissue-forming cells.

      Studies show that magnesium supplements improve bone mineral density while minimizing the risk of bone fractures, so you can keep up with your HIIT classes or backyard burpees.

      5. It can support healthy blood pressure levels

      Magnesium is part of hundreds of your body’s chemical reactions, including regulating blood pressure. It promotes the release of nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens blood vessels. Magnesium makes it easier for blood to flow, lowering blood pressure.

      6. It can improve muscle recovery

      We all know that dreaded soreness that comes a day or two after an intense jiujitsu class that makes the idea of walking up the stairs a nightmare. That soreness is caused by inflammation and the small tears you get in your muscle tissues during your workouts.

      A review of 11 studies shows that magnesium reduces levels of different inflammation markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), helping your muscles recover while getting rid of the soreness.

      Ever wonder why Epsom salt baths are such a common post-workout practice? It’s full of magnesium sulfate.

      How can magnesium help athletes?

      Often overlooked, magnesium can also be a game-changer for all types of athletes. Its role in energy production, muscle/nerve function, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, and protein synthesis can enhance athletic performance. Here’s how:

      • Especially in older athletes, there’s a positive correlation between high levels of magnesium and strength, power, and muscle performance
      • Magnesium can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and improve muscle recovery (so you have no more excuses to skip leg day)
      • It aids energy production and metabolizes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for intense workouts, like functional strength training or mixed martial arts
      • One of magnesium’s many roles is regulating potassium—without it, potassium can’t enter cells, which leads to an electrolyte deficiency
      • It promotes quality rest—better sleep, better performance

      What are the signs of a magnesium deficiency?

      Because we don’t naturally produce magnesium, we rely on food or supplements (or both) to meet our daily requirements. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 75% of us fall short of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 400-420mg for men and 310-320mg for women.

      But, as Dr. Naoki Umeda, M.D., a specialist in integrative medicine, explains, many of us live with inadequate magnesium without even realizing it.

      “Magnesium deficiencies can be hard to diagnose, partly because many of the initial symptoms could indicate a wide variety of other health issues. And some people may not have any symptoms at all.” - Dr. Naoki Umeda, MD

      Magnesium deficiency (aka hypomagnesemia) shows up in many different ways:

      • Muscle twitches and cramps or stiffness
      • Increased stress, anxiety, or depression
      • Loss of appetite or nausea
      • Asthma
      • Osteoporosis
      • Muscle weakness and fatigue
      • High blood pressure
      • Heart arrhythmia
      • Numbness and tingling as your deficiency progresses

      Once aware of your deficiency, you can course-correct by adding magnesium to your system through diet or supplements.

      What should I watch out for when buying a magnesium supplement?

      Supplements are a dime a dozen these days (another reason we’re all about clean ingredients). The claims get more outrageous, the fillers become more prominent—how do you know you’re getting a quality supplement?

      Ask yourself:

      • Am I buying from a trusted brand? It’s not worth risking to save a few bucks or get a product with useless fillers.
      • Do they use third-party testing for purity and potency? This improves supplement safety.
      • Is it a bioavailable form of magnesium? This increases your ability to absorb it.

      Make sure it’s bioavailable and the right form

      Bioavailability—or absorption—is crucial because if your body doesn’t absorb the magnesium in your supplement, it’s virtually useless. Integrative physician Robert Rountree explains why:

      “Magnesium absorbs water. So when you take straight-up magnesium, like magnesium oxide, it forms these clusters of water, and that basically hurries things along in the gut."

      It becomes a laxative because the magnesium doesn't absorb into your bloodstream. Rountree recommends finding a chelated form—like magnesium glycinate—that’s bound to an organic compound instead.

      Magnesium glycinate is one of the most absorbable forms (and one of the three we include in our Advanced Mag supplement). While there are dozens of forms of magnesium, you need ones that can be easily absorbed to see the benefits.

      3 Forms of magnesium (and what they do)

      There are dozens of forms of magnesium, but these are arguably the best forms:

      1. Magnesium citrate. Bound with citric acid, it’s one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium. It’s often used as a laxative, too.
      2. Magnesium glycinate. A combination of magnesium and glycine, it’s a chelated form with great bioavailability. It can even promote better sleep.
      3. Magnesium L-threonate. It’s one of the most bioavailable of all forms, and preliminary animal studies suggest it could provide neuroprotective qualities.

      Whether trying to combat a magnesium deficiency or reduce DOMS after a treacherous all-day hike, magnesium is the answer. But to get the most from your magnesium supplement, make sure you’re ingesting the most bioavailable forms to fuel you on your path.