This mineral is the second most common element found within our cells. (1) And, studies suggest that taking magnesium for knee pain can indeed be helpful.
See, it may help treat knee pain thanks to its ability to control inflammation. This not only helps with symptoms – it can prevent them from worsening as well.
Below, you’ll learn how magnesium works for knee pain and some related topics to take it safely. Here’s what we’ll discuss, tap on any of these bullets to go to that section:
- Magnesium for knee pain
- 6 Forms of magnesium
- Magnesium deficiency
- Risk and side effects
- Natural sources
- Do you need to take it?
- Other treatments for knee pain
Magnesium supplementation and knee pain
The anti-inflammatory properties of magnesium are well known.
On the other hand, common causes of knee pain like osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a strong inflammatory component. This is believed to be the main cause of knee pain in these conditions.
As such, researchers have looked into using magnesium as a natural way of managing the symptoms of OA and RA. Here’s what’s known so far:
Role of magnesium in radiographic knee osteoarthritis
Low magnesium intake is a known risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. It’s also linked to severe forms of this condition. (2)
Also, people with deficient magnesium levels tend to have increased levels of inflammatory mediators. These are associated with more cartilage damage and a decreased regeneration rate of this tissue. (2)
All of which can worsen degenerative joint diseases like knee osteoarthritis. But, supplementing with magnesium can be an effective therapy for controlling this.
Now, once the inflammation is kept under control, magnesium can do more than just reduce pain and swelling. It can also prevent further degradation of joint cartilage, thus delaying the progression of osteoarthritis.
Magnesium and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of multiple joints, like the hands, wrist, and knees. This can destroy cartilage and cause pain, swelling, and deformity.
But, having healthy levels of magnesium may help keep this condition under control. It can even prevent it from developing in the first place. (3)
Yet, for people with this condition, studies show that taking a daily dose of 181-446 mg of magnesium can have positive effects on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. (3)
6 Forms of magnesium supplements
There are various types of magnesium supplements, each with different benefits and bioavailabilities.
Bioavailability refers to the rate at which a drug or supplement is absorbed and delivered into the blood circulation. So, the higher it is, the better and faster the effects of the compound.
With that said, common forms of magnesium supplements include (4):
1) Magnesium oxide
This form has laxative effects and is usually found in the milk of magnesia. It’s not well absorbed and has poor bioavailability, so it’s not used as a supplement.
2) Magnesium citrate
In comparison to the oxide form, magnesium citrate has good bioavailability. That’s why it’s used as a magnesium supplement. But it’s absorbed rapidly, so it may have mild laxative effects.
3) Magnesium glycinate
This form may be ideal for magnesium supplementation – it has good bioavailability without laxative effects.
4) Magnesium malate
This form can be beneficial in patients with fibromyalgia, as it may help reduce the muscle pain and tenderness typical of this condition.
5) Magnesium taurate
Magnesium taurate may be beneficial in patients with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, Yet, more studies are needed to confirm these effects.
6) Magnesium chloride
This is another form with moderate bioavailability. It’s mostly used as a topical product, present in magnesium oil and bath salts.
How to know if you have a magnesium deficiency?
Even though magnesium is vital for the normal functioning of our bodies, studies suggest almost 30% of people suffer from its deficiency. (5)
Causes of magnesium deficiency
Apart from poor dietary intake, other causes of magnesium deficiency include (5):
- Drinking too much caffeine.
- Poor absorption due to gastrointestinal issues.
- Kidney failure.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and diuretics.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
Magnesium deficiency can affect multiple systems in our body. It can present with many signs and symptoms such as (5):
- Muscle weakness.
- Increased knee pain.
- Mood disorders.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nerve damage.
Dose of magnesium supplements for knee pain
The recommended dietary allowance of magnesium varies depending on your gender, age, and overall health. For people without medical conditions the recommended intake is (6):
- For males, 400-420 mg daily depending on the age.
- For females, 310-320 mg daily depending on the age.
Are magnesium supplements safe?
These supplements are safe when taken in the recommended dosage. But taking too much magnesium can cause a condition called “hypermagnesemia”. This condition can result in side effects such as (6):
- Muscle weakness.
- Loss of appetite.
The risk of side effects is also higher in those who have kidney disorders. Also, for people taking medications for blood pressure or diuretics.
Natural sources of magnesium
Magnesium can be found in many food items made from both plants and animals. Some food sources include (6):
- Green leafy vegetables.
- Nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Breakfast cereals.
- Fortified foods.
- Tap, mineral, and bottled waters.
Do you need to take magnesium supplements?
Despite the wide availability of magnesium in food sources, its deficiency is quite common. That’s why some people may need to take it as a supplement.
We recommend taking the glycinate form because it has the highest bioavailability with minimal side effects. The second best choice would be magnesium citrate.
However, keep in mind that not everyone may react the same to each form. The only way to know which one is best for you is by experimenting.
If you’re not sure where or how to start, consult with your doctor.
Other treatments and supplements for knee pain
Besides magnesium supplements, there are several other ways to manage knee pain:
Some treatments commonly recommended for knee pain are:
- Strengthening exercises.
- Physical therapy.
- Heat and ice therapy.
- Weight loss.
- Medications for knee pain, such as NSAIDs.
Some supplements that can be taken for knee pain are:
Further reading: Best supplements for knee pain.
Is magnesium good for the knees?
Yes – Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help provide relief from chronic pain in the knees, swelling, and stiffness.
Can magnesium deficiency cause knee pain?
Magnesium deficiency is linked with chronic inflammation, which may trigger conditions that cause knee pain. Like knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
How much magnesium should you take for knee joint pain?
There’s not a defined dosage for knee pain. But the recommended dietary allowance to prevent a lower magnesium intake is 320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men. (6)
Conclusion: Do magnesium supplements work for knee pain?
Magnesium is vital for the normal functioning of our blood circulation, nerves, and muscles, among other things. Its deficiency is associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause knee pain.
The daily recommended intake of magnesium is 420 mg and 320 mg per day for women and men respectively. (6)
- Blaine, Judith, Michel Chonchol, and Moshe Levi. “Renal control of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium homeostasis.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 10.7 (2015): 1257-1272.
- Li, Yaqiang, Jiaji Yue, and Chunxi Yang. “Unraveling the role of Mg++ in osteoarthritis.” Life sciences 147 (2016): 24-29.
- Hu, Congqi et al. “Relationship between dietary magnesium intake and rheumatoid arthritis in US women: a cross-sectional study.” BMJ open vol. 10,11 e039640. 9 Nov. 2020.
- Blancquaert, Laura et al. “Predicting and Testing Bioavailability of Magnesium Supplements.” Nutrients vol. 11,7 1663. 20 Jul. 2019.
- DiNicolantonio, James J et al. “Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis.” Open heart vol. 5,1 e000668. 13 Jan. 2018, doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/