Transdermal Magnesium

Did you know that simply taking a bath can increase your magnesium absorption? Take relaxation to the next level with transdermal magnesium.

A staple of the bathroom cabinet, Epsom salt has been long hailed for its ability to relax and ease tired, sore muscles. It comes as little surprise then that the secret to its success lies in its other name, magnesium sulfate.

500 grams of Epsom salt dissolved in a bath of hot water will form magnesium ions that are able to cross the skin barrier into the blood and tissues, with excess excreted by the kidneys [1]. The same is true for soaking feet in a hot bucket of aqueous Epsom salts, and for hot Epsom salt compresses. Swapping showers for baths means your daily routine can also become your daily meditation and magnesium booster, in one!

It is still essential to maintain a diet rich in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and wholegrains to guarantee your magnesium intake is in good shape, and so too your amino acid, vitamin and fibre intake. However, since soils are depleted of many minerals including magnesium, and time to prepare foods so often seems scarce, supplementing magnesium may be necessary to ensure your levels are optimum. Baths and regular topical applications will help you achieve this. [See cautions for supplementing at the end of this article.]

A bath in a bottle!

Aqueous magnesium chloride is also absorbed through the skin. It is sometimes labelled liquid magnesium or magnesium oil, a solution that is not oil at all, but does have an oil-like, slippery feel. One such topical magnesium supplement, naturally sourced from Victorian underground aqueducts, is Australian owned Karma Rub.

You can make a preparation of magnesium oil yourself by saturating magnesium chloride salt with water. Magnesium oil can be applied directly to the skin and in ten minutes it will be absorbed. Although it leaves a little salty residue, it has been suggested that the skin absorbs magnesium three times better than the gastro-intestinal tract (which absorbs only 30% of ingested magnesium) [2]. Sufferers of IBS or other gut disease may indeed find it more effective, as diarrhoea and inflammation diminish magnesium absorption by the gut [3]. This is what makes transdermal magnesium a sensible option for magnesium supplementation.

Each method has its own advantages: magnesium oil can be applied directly to the site of pain, and baths have the benefit of being very relaxing. Both methods are obviously appropriate for pain relief, especially post-exercise and in conditions such as arthritis, myalgia, spasms or cramps. However, their benefits are much wider reaching due to the many roles magnesium plays in human biology. A future blog post, Magnesium under the Microscope, will give more detailed information.

So before you reach for the pills, remember it is easy to supplement your magnesium intake and aid muscle relaxation by enjoying more baths or keeping a bottle of magnesium oil at hand. Karma Rub comes in a variety of sizes, making it convenient to keep in your sports bag, handbag or drawer to boost your magnesium on the go, or to apply it when computer posture or a stressful day leads to tight neck and shoulder muscles. For more information visit
Cautions for supplementing
Continue reading Transdermal Magnesium

Magnesium Matters

Over 50% of Australians are headed for chronic health problems, all related to a single mineral deficiency. Let’s change that!

Our standard diet, while rich in calories, is lacking in fibre and an assortment of nutrients, especially magnesium. Preventable chronic health problems, related to magnesium deficiency alone, range from insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes), heart disease and high blood pressure, to migraines, osteoporosis [2] and inflammatory bowel disease [3]. These problems don’t happen over-night. They’re happening now, gradually, due to life-long eating patterns, distorted dietary information and the comfort of cultural norms. It is so normal, that another Australian is diagnosed with diabetes every 5 minutes.

Familiar indications of magnesium deficiency include agitation, confusion, anxiety, irritability, restless leg syndrome, muscle spasms and weakness, sleeping problems and cardiac arrhythmias [3]. These seemingly unrelated symptoms are due to magnesium’s involvement in well over 300 vital functions in the body [4].

Due to the radical shift towards mass farming and refined and processed food, the average daily diet today is expected to contain 150-230mg, close to half the recommended intake of 320mg/day for women aged over 30 [5] [6]. Foods that make up the bulk of the typical Western diet are relatively low in magnesium, i.e., white flour (in bread and pasta), white rice, sugar, milk and cheddar cheese, and the same can be said for most meats and fruits [6] [1].

So which foods are high in magnesium?
You may remember from high-school science classes that magnesium sits in the centre of the chlorophyll molecule, the photosynthesising agent in plants, responsible for their green colour [7]. Not surprisingly then, green leafy vegetables and seaweeds are rich sources of magnesium. Seeds, nuts and wholegrains are also rich sources.

  • English spinach has been found to contain 87mg/100g of magnesium with around 156mg in a cooked, one cup serving.
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels) have as much as 535mg /100g
  • Linseeds, wheat bran, caviar and sunflower seeds have 390-325mg/100g
  • Oat bran has approximately 225mg/100g
  • Almonds, Brazil nuts and quality dark chocolate have between 180-145mg/100g.
  • Most legumes, including baked beans and edamame have between 110-135mg/100g [1]
  • Other less dense sources that tend, like leafy greens, to be eaten in larger portion sizes are fish, prickly-pears, dried figs, raw artichokes, avocados and bananas.

It is easy to make some changes to your shopping habits and diet to ensure you are eating magnesium rich foods every day. Try starting your day with a bowl of premium muesli, and choose a lunch abundant in leafy greens. By dinner time, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your daily magnesium needs and keeping well now and in the future.

For more information on additional sources of magnesium, see future blog posts Mineral Water, Transdermal Magnesium, and Magnesium under the Microscope. You may also find a helpful resource for learning more about the mineral content in foods.

Photo credit: CAJC: in the PNW on Visualhunt

  1. Bodyventures. Magnesium. Diet and Fitness Today n.d.; Available from:
  2. Supplements), N.-I.-o.-H.-O.o.D. Magnesium fact sheet for health professionals. 2016 11 February 2016 [cited 2017 27 March]; Available from: HealthProfessional/ .
  3. Longmore, B., Magnesium – the quiet ubiquity, in Australian Pharmacist. 2016, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. . p. 38-41.
  4. Higdon, J., V. Drake, and B. Delage. Magnesium. 2001 October 2013 [cited 2017 27 March]; Available from:
  5. Nutritional-Magnesium. Magnesium Health Overview. 2012 [cited 2017 28 March]; Available from:
  6. Nica, A.S., et al., Magnesium supplementation in top athletes-effects and recommendations. Medicina Sportiva: Journal of Romanian Sports Medicine Society, 2015. 11(1): p. 2482.
  7. Guo, W., et al., Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem. The Crop Journal, 2016. 4(2): p. 83-91.

Acupuncture Nest provides scientific information for the general public on the health aspects of lifestyle factors such as relaxation, rest, mind-set, exercise and diet (including the constituents of foods, beverages and supplements). The information is made available with the understanding that the author and publisher are not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counselling services on this website. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a health care professional.

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