How long does it take for magnesium to start working?

by Hannah de Gruchy May 16, 2024

How long does it take for magnesium to start working?

Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, responsible for over 300 different biological functions. It supports many aspects of our health, helping to regulate blood pressure, sugar levels, bone strength and density, and even our mood and sleep patterns.

Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all rich food sources of magnesium. It’s thought that as many as 50% of adults in Europe and the US are deficient in this vital mineral.

Magnesium tablets, gummies, and oral sprays are becoming more popular as information on diet and dietary supplements is now widely available and accessible. There are different magnesium supplements, most commonly magnesium citrate, malate, and glycinate.

Depending on why you’ve decided to supplement your diet with magnesium, you may notice that you feel the benefits over varying amounts of time.

Magnesium fast facts

  • Magnesium is a mineral essential to health. It is found in legumes, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and, to a lesser extent, meat.
  • There are different reasons for taking magnesium supplements, including regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels, aiding better sleep, improving mood, helping prevent heart disease, and managing migraines.
  • Many people take a daily magnesium supplement to cover any gaps in their diet and ensure they’re getting enough to support their physical and mental health.
  • It can take up to 12 weeks of daily supplements before any benefit is seen. Still, depending on your magnesium levels before you start, you may notice the positive effects much sooner.

The different types of magnesium supplement

Magnesium citrate capsules - G&G Vitamins

Three main types of magnesium supplements are magnesium citrate, malate, and glycinate. Magnesium citrate is the form found in most magnesium supplements as it’s considered the most bioavailable—that is, it’s most easily absorbed by the body. It’s used to help top up levels in someone who isn’t getting enough in their diet, and for this reason, magnesium citrate supplements such as this one from G&G Vitamins are popular.

Magnesium malate is also well absorbed by the body and may be gentler on the gut. In contrast, magnesium glycinate may be beneficial if you plan to take magnesium to aid in more restful sleep.

How long does magnesium take to work?

Despite numerous forms of this supplement, with some being more easily absorbed than others, there appears to be little evidence to suggest that any type begins to have an effect any quicker than another. Suppose a more bioavailable form such as magnesium citrate is absorbed more easily. In that case, any quicker benefit will be negligible, with the main plus point being that it’ll be less likely to upset a sensitive gut than, for example, magnesium glycinate.

Woman sleeping in bedHow long it takes for any magnesium supplement to show any benefit depends on your starting point. If you’re very low in this important mineral and begin to supplement your diet, you’ll likely notice the positive effects within a few days or weeks.

The signs of a magnesium deficiency include muscle weakness, cramps and twitches, a low mood, lethargy, anxious thoughts, fatigue, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms and think you may be deficient in magnesium, once you begin to supplement, you may notice that your symptoms will reduce over the coming weeks.

How long until I notice the benefits of magnesium for sleep and mental health?

There is no one definitive study that demonstrates precisely how long magnesium takes to work. Everybody is different and will depend on how deficient you may have been, your metabolism, and what you hope to achieve.

However, there is some evidence that it could take between 8 and 12 weeks to help restore good quality sleep and around four to eight weeks to help improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Can I make magnesium supplements work faster?

All supplements, magnesium included, are most beneficial if taken every day and at the same time every day. Doing so allows the body to absorb each nutrient regularly, helping to regulate levels.

It doesn’t matter what time of day you take magnesium. But if you’re taking it to help you achieve good quality sleep, it’s advisable to take it in the evening before bed as part of your bedtime wind-down routine.

How long does magnesium stay in the body?

The body cannot make magnesium and relies on intake from our diet or supplements. Since the body uses it for over 300 biological functions, it’s being used up all the time. It’s estimated that the magnesium we ingest will be used within 12-24 hours, so it’s essential that we consume magnesium-rich foods every day and/or take a daily supplement.

Taking magnesium supplements

Magnesium supplements are generally considered safe with no known side effects. However, if you have a sensitive gut, you may experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea when you first start taking them, so start with a lower daily intake if you’re concerned.

They may be unsuitable if you have kidney disease or take certain medications, including some antibiotics, heart medications, and diuretics. Check with your prescribing doctor if you take any medications and plan to take magnesium supplements.

As with any supplement, it’s advisable to take your magnesium supplement every day for at least 12 weeks before deciding whether or not you’re noticing any benefit. You may notice that you’re benefitting sooner, in which case, continue to take it at the same time each day to continue reaping the rewards.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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