The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists magnesium as being necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, to keeping heart rhythm steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. The mineral is also needed for blood sugar management, and healthy blood pressure.
In Europe, the difficult to please European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued positive opinions on magnesium and the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; electrolyte balance; normal energy-yielding metabolism; neurotransmission, and muscle contraction.
The health benefits of magnesium appear to be matched by the potential economic benefits of magnesium supplementation.
A report by Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation found that taking magnesium supplements at preventive intake levels (100 mg per day for women 55 and over) could reduce the risk of having an osteoporosis-related event by 6%, which equates to about 69,000 osteoporosis-related medical events each year.
The potential net savings after accounting for magnesium supplement costs could be $595.3 million annually, said the report. And with 10% of this population already taking magnesium supplements, the overall savings per year could be $530 million. This produces cumulative savings from 2013-2020 of about $4.2 billion in the US alone (see infographic below).
The ultimate benefits of magnesium supplements could be many magnitudes greater, given that between 70 and 80% of the US population are not meeting their recommended intakes of magnesium.
Consumers and healthcare professionals are waking up to the issue, and magnesium supplement sales are on the rise. According to SPINS, US sales of magnesium supplements in natural (excluding Whole Foods) and conventional outlet (including Walmart) grew by almost 20% from 2011 to 2012, to be worth $67,875,702. Growth from 2010 to 2011 was 15%.