Magnesium May Help Your Arthritis

August 19, 2019 Updated: June 7, 2020

For individuals who are suffering from arthritis, some relief may come in the form of a common mineral that is deficient in far too many people—magnesium. Anywhere from half to as many as 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough of this essential nutrient.

Since magnesium is intimately involved with more than 700 enzyme processes in the body, suffering low levels could have a significant impact on your health.

If you already have arthritis or you are at risk for developing this disease, getting sufficient magnesium could help, and here’s why. Magnesium modulates cell activity involved in the process of inflammation. One of the characteristics of the two most common types of arthritis-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis-is inflammation.

Osteoarthritis develops when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones in your joints wears down. Even though osteoarthritis traditionally has not been viewed as involving inflammation, recent research has shown that it does indeed have a significant role and needs to be addressed. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive condition in which inflammation in the joints typically causes immobility and painful deformities in the fingers, feet, ankles, and wrists.

Magnesium and Osteoarthritis

The amount of magnesium people consume appears to have an impact on osteoarthritis, according to a study in which 1,626 adults (age 40-83) were studied. All of the participants had their knees x-rayed and their dietary magnesium intake evaluated.

Overall, 25.2 percent of the participants had knee osteoarthritis (OA). The relative odds of developing knee osteoarthritis increased as the amount of magnesium intake decreased. At the same time, the amount of joint space narrowing (characteristic of osteoarthritis) decreased as the amount of dietary magnesium declined as well.

The authors concluded that their study “supports the potential role of Mg [magnesium] in the prevention of knee OA.”

Magnesium has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis in rats. Investigators gave magnesium sulfate to rats with induced osteoarthritis and observed that the mineral reduced pain and inflammation of the joints. As a bonus, the scientists found that the magnesium reduced the death of cartilage cells, which in turn slowed the progression of the disease.

People with rheumatoid arthritis often come up short on magnesium. An Albany Medical College study found that people with active rheumatoid arthritis had diets deficient in magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc.

Magnesium to Treat Arthritis

While the National Institutes of Health recommend 320 mg magnesium daily for women and 420 mg for men, magnesium expert Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, who is also a Medical Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, recommends 700 mg. Getting that amount from foods rich in magnesium  can be a challenge, so supplements are typically necessary.

One easy way you can get extra magnesium, manage arthritis, and help prevent it as well is by sipping on water mixed with magnesium citrate powder every day.

Dean notes that “magnesium is a natural detoxifier which helps calcium absorption and keeps calcium from depositing into soft tissue where it can cause some forms of arthritis.”

She recommends magnesium citrate or supplements that have picometer-sized magnesium, since these promote absorption. Magnesium is often paired or taken along with calcium for bone health, and the proper ratio is 1-to-1 when taking these minerals. Both vitamin D and K2 should be taken as well to support the bones.

Before taking magnesium citrate powder or any magnesium supplement, talk to your doctor to determine how much is right for you. You may want to get a blood test to determine your magnesium levels. Standard serum blood tests are inadequate, so ask for a magnesium RBC (red blood cell) test, which looks at magnesium levels inside red blood cells and is more accurate.

Anyone who has a heart or kidney problem or diabetes, who is taking an antibiotic, or is using any other medications should talk to a healthcare provider before starting any magnesium supplementation. 

Andrea Donsky, who holds a bachelor of commerce, is an international TV health expert, best selling author, and founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. This article was originally published on