How much magnesium do you need for your skin?

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Magnesium is an essential macro-mineral our body needs for many biochemical processes. It helps us digest food, prevents migraines, eases menstrual cramps and is vital for proper muscle functioning. It is also a mineral that many of us are lacking.

Magnesium deficiencies are very common. In the US, some reports show that up to 80 percent of the population is magnesium deficient, and when we are magnesium deficient, our skin is also missing out.

Magnesium skin benefits

In an article published in Women’s Health Magazine,  Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City said that “Magnesium is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy skin barrier, and has been shown to help fight off-dry, damaged skin.”

Dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman also notes that magnesium oil has absorption properties that make it a powerful humectant to keep skin hydrated and supple. In other studies, magnesium was shown to break down oils and fats, which could explain its ability to help minimize oily skin. Magnesium also helps fight stress by supporting adrenal function and serotonin synthesis. This means that stress-related breakouts could be alleviated by magnesium as well.

How to take magnesium?

Magnesium can be taken topically, in pill form or acquired through certain foods. For skin benefits, many experts consider topical application more effective. You can purchase magnesium “oil”, which isn’t actually an oil but magnesium chloride suspended in water or, for a cheaper option, you can purchase magnesium flakes and blend them in the water yourself.

If you want to get your daily dose of magnesium through your diet, try eating more green, dark, leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, etc.), fish (i.e. sardines or tuna), seaweed, spirulina and kelp, avocados, bananas, dried fruit or dark chocolate.

How much magnesium is enough?

The amount of magnesium you need varies widely depending on your age, sex, and other factors. The best way to find the correct dosage and type of magnesium for your body is to consult your doctor, but, for a good reference point, the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends the following daily intake for healthy individuals:

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium [1]
Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*  
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*  
1–3 years80 mg80 mg  
4–8 years130 mg130 mg  
9–13 years240 mg240 mg  
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg  

Knowing when you’ve overdone it

One tell-tale sign of when you’ve had too much magnesium is when your stool gets watery or loose. So if that happens, you know it’s time to back off and lower the dosage. While it’s difficult to overdose on magnesium, it can happen. If you are taking the pill or topical applications, you should be cautious and start with smaller doses at around 100 mg per day, building up as you go. If you notice any strange side effects, contact a medical professional immediately.

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