Magnesium for Energy: How “the Sleep Mineral” Fights Fatigue

magnesium for energy and to fight fatigue

Table of Contents

It’s a little-known fact that magnesium — considered the sleep mineral and the anti-stress mineral — is also needed to fight fatigue. That’s right: we need magnesium for energy production.

“One of the most amazing effects of magnesium on the neuromuscular system is that it provides more energy, even though the mineral generally acts as a relaxant and not a stimulant.” (Dr. Carolyn Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 71)

How does it magnesium do this? Read on to discover the science.

Magnesium is Not Just for Better Sleep

Magnesium for sleep and energy

You might assume that magnesium is an energizing mineral because it helps us to get a deeper, more restorative sleep. That is certainly true. 

Without enough magnesium, we can experience insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and spend longer trying to fall asleep, all of which drains our energy during the day.

Yet magnesium also works to facilitate energy at a cellular level. That’s right, magnesium enables your very cells to produce the energy you need even to draw a breath.

In The Magnesium Miracle (2014) Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. explains that magnesium activates “enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates” (p. 15). By aiding in digestion, magnesium makes it possible to derive energy from our diet.

It’s also important to note of “the 700-800 magnesium-dependent enzymes, the most important enzyme reaction involves the creation of energy by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fundamental energy storage molecule of the body” (Dean, p. 15)  

How Magnesium Creates Energy in the Cells

Magnesium for ATP energy production

How does magnesium create more energy by activating ATP?

The ATP required at the cellular level for physical activity depends on enzymes called ATPases. These enzymes, in turn, are dependent on magnesium.

“ATP, created in mitochondria, is the main source of energy in our cells, and it must be bound to a magnesium ion (MgATP) in order to be biologically active. This is likely the most important function of magnesium, because ATP is made in each of the 100 trillion cells in our body.” (Dean, MD, ND, Kindle version, page 123)

During strenuous activity, these magnesium-dependent enzymatic processes rely heavily on an extraordinarily fast-paced rate of ATP turnover, which is only possible when sufficient magnesium levels are present in the body. 

Sometimes described as the furnace of the cells, the energy-producing ATP needs magnesium. Without sufficient magnesium, energy production declines, energy levels fall and you feel fatigued.

Fatigue and Low Magnesium Levels

Magnesium for fatigue

A lack of energy or ‘tiredness’ is one of the most common complaints patients bring to primary caregivers (Stadje et al., 2016). Surveys of adults in the US and Europe estimate that 20% to 30% experience significant fatigue (Nicholson, 2012).

Fatigue, unfortunately, is often an intractable complaint; across several studies in Canada, the US, and Britain, symptoms of fatigue persisted in most patients six months to a year after their initial complaint to a health care provider (Nicholson, 2012).

Sound familiar? You may be suffering from fatigue. Dr. Dean explains that fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency (Kindle version page 258). S

WebMD says of magnesium, “When levels are even a little low, your energy can drop.”

When you’re fatigued, you may not immediately realize you need magnesium. Instead, you might skip high-energy activities, like workouts, and feel even more lethargic. 

Magnesium for Energy vs. Stimulant Energy Supplements

Magnesium for energy vs energy supplements

According to Nutraceuticals World (2017), “…for people who take dietary supplements, energy is now the number two health concern they’re looking to address, with 30% of users citing this need (Nutraceuticals World, n.d.).”

In the quest for more energy, many people have turned to caffeine and other stimulants, natural and synthetic. Some of these have dangerous side effects, including nervousness and sleeplessness (Nutraceuticals World, n.d.).  Plus, many stimulants like caffeine only deplete magnesium levels, creating a cycle of fatigue, since we need magnesium for energy.

That may be why natural health consumers are demanding energy supplements that are natural, organic, and non-stimulating (Nutraceuticals World, n.d.), like magnesium.

Magnesium delivers natural energy at the cellular level without stimulating the nervous system. When you take magnesium, you have energy when you need it, but you can relax and sleep when appropriate.

Magnesium for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

Can you supplement with magnesium for energy under conditions of persistent fatigue?

There is some evidence that magnesium may be useful for fatigue that goes beyond normal or occasional tiredness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and poorly defined (The New York Times, n.d.). The most distinctive feature is persistent fatigue. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients also experience pain, headache, poor sleep, and cognitive symptoms (The New York Times, n.d.).

A review published in The Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome examined the relationship between CFS and magnesium (Seelig, 1998). Seelig noted that “the evidence that Mg deficiency causes a variety of both humoral and cellular defense disturbances, among which are several that have been identified in CFS and FM, is a reason to suspect that either Mg deficiency or its abnormal utilization might be a pathogenic factor in CFS (p. 106).”

A 1991 study published in The Lancet essayed to demonstrate that patients with CFS have low magnesium and that symptoms can be improved with supplementation (Cox, Campbell, & Dowson). Twenty CFS patients were tested for red blood cell magnesium concentration and were found to have lower levels than 20 healthy control subjects (Cox et al., 1991).

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, patients were randomly assigned to either 6 weeks of magnesium sulphate supplementation or placebo. In the treatment group, 7 of the patients had a significant change in their energy score, contrasted with 1 patient in the control group. Those given magnesium also reported a better emotional state, and less pain (Cox et al., 1991).

Clearly, more research (and more recent research) is required to understand the benefits of magnesium for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

Here’s How to Get More Magnesium for Energy

For steady, reliable energy, you need to get your magnesium back in balance. 

Research suggests that magnesium supplementation can improve energy and performance, even among those who are not magnesium deficient.

If you are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, including low magnesium, supplementation is a safe, effective option for almost everyone.

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  1. Chronic Fatigue In-Depth Report. (n.d.). In The New York Times online. Retrieved August 15, 2017
  2. Cinar, V, Nizamlioglu, M., Mogulkoc, R., & Baltaci, A. K. (2007). Effects of magnesium supplementation on blood parameters of athletes at rest and after exercise. Biological Trace Element Research, 115(3), 205–212. [Study]
  3. Cox, I. M., Campbell, M. J., & Dowson, D. (1991). Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. The Lancet, 337(8744), 757–760.
  4. Dean, C. (2014). The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books.
  5. Energy Trends: The Market Charges On. Brands appeal to a broad audience with natural ingredients that provide sustained benefits (n.d.). In Nutraceuticals World online. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from
  6. Nicholson, K. A. (2012, July). The Symptom of Fatigue in Primary Care: A Comparative Study of Health Care Utilization Patterns Using Electronic Medical Records.
  7. Nielsen, F. H., & Lukaski, H. C. (2002). Dietary magnesium depletion affects metabolic responses during submaximal exercise in postmenopausal women. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(5), 930–935.
  8. Nielsen, F. H., & Lukaski, H. C. (2006). Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. 19(3), 180–189.
  9. Romano, T. J., & Stiller, J. W. (1994). Magnesium Deficiency in Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Journal of Nutritional Medecine, 4(2), 165–167.
  10. Seelig, M. (1998). Review and hypothesis: might patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome have latent tetany of magnesium deficiency. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 4(2), 77–108.
  11. Setaro, L., Santos-Silva, P. R., Nakano, E. Y., Sales, C. H., Nunes, N., Greve, J., & Colli, C. (2014). Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32(5), 438–445.
  12. Stadje, R., Dornieden, K., Baum, E., Becker, A., Biroga, T., Bösner, S., et al. (2016). The differential diagnosis of tiredness: a systematic review. BMC Family Practice, 17(147), 1–11.
  13. Veronese, N., Berton, L., Carraro, S., Bolzetta, F., De Rui, M., Perissinotto, E., et al. (2014). Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(3), 974–981.

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