Health & Wellness

Guide To Zinc And Magnesium: Benefits & More

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Zinc and magnesium are essential nutrients, which means our body is unable to synthesise the amount we need. Food and supplements can be used as sources of these minerals. Both zinc and magnesium have an important role to play in cellular metabolism and each have their own benefits when it comes to supporting health.

In this article, you’ll find:

What Is Zinc?

Zinc is required for over 300 different cellular reactions within the body; it has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and also supports chemical signaling within the brain (essential for cognitive function). Zinc is absorbed in the small bowel and is stored in the skin – zinc supplementation is often used for supporting both gut and skin health.

What Is Magnesium?

Like zinc, magnesium is needed for cellular reactions to take place (both minerals act as a catalyst to speed up reactions). Magnesium has been studied for its potential role in preventing chronic disease, including common mental health conditions. Magnesium is absorbed in the large bowel and levels are regulated by the kidneys. Magnesium is important for maintaining levels of vitamin D and oestrogen.

What Are Zinc And Magnesium Good For?

Zinc and Magnesium are needed for a whole variety of bodily functions (mostly at a cellular level). However, each of these minerals has their own particular health benefits.

Benefits Of Zinc

Helps to soothe skin

Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties which helps to fight redness found in acne inflammation. Zinc is also used in the remodeling process of skin, which is important for healing skin and helps to prevent acne scarring.

Supports gut health

Zinc helps to maintain the mucosal layer of the gut, AKA the ‘filtering’ layer of the gut. This layer is needed to filter out bad bacteria and invading organisms, whilst allowing nutrients, minerals and good bacteria to pass through. Low levels of zinc may negatively impact the filtering capacity of the gut mucosa.

Immune-boosting properties

Zinc is important for the functioning of T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. These blood cells work within the innate immune system, which mounts an immediate response to an illness. This immune system is the first line of defence against illnesses.

Maintains libido

Libido – or ‘sex drive’ – can be an indicator of overall health. Zinc is important for the storage of testosterone, the male sex hormone that is responsible for libido in both men and women. Zinc is also needed to maintain healthy sperm, an important aspect of fertility.

Supports healthy skin and nails

Zinc deficiency can lead symptoms such as hair loss, nail breakage, nail infections or general deterioration of nail health. Zinc is commonly found ‘beauty’ vitamins, as it may help to fight these symptoms, and promote the health of hair, skin and hails.

Prevention of mental health conditions

The role of zinc in the development of mental health conditions is still a relatively new area of research. However, zinc is known to be involved in the regulation of chemical signals within the brain. Low levels of zinc have been linked to mood disorders, as well as higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Maintains vision

Zinc may help to prevent damage to the parts of the eye that receive images. These images are then sent to the brain for processing. Supplementation with zinc may help to prevent the development of degenerative eye conditions.

Benefits Of Magnesium

Aids sleep

Magnesium may help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system; the part of the nervous system responsible for relaxation. Furthermore, magnesium has been shown to stimulate the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of sleepiness at night.

Supports heart health and blood pressure

Levels of magnesium and calcium have a significant influence on blood pressure – magnesium promotes relaxation of blood vessels which in turn, leads to reduced blood pressure and reduced workload of the heart

Regulation of heart rhythms

Magnesium, when used as an adjunct therapy, has been found to be helpful in the stabilisation of abnormal heart rhythms. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to increased risk of developing heart rhythm abnormalities and other heart diseases.

Improves mood

Low levels of magnesium have been linked to low mood and increased self-reported anxiety. In contrast, supplementation has been shown to stimulate the production of serotonin, one of the ‘happy hormones’.

Reduction in PMS symptoms

When combined with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), magnesium has been shown to reduce symptoms of PMS. Low levels of magnesium are thought to both trigger and worsen PMS symptoms, including water retention, bloating, cramps, and mood changes.

Vitamin D metabolism

Magnesium is involved in the regulation of various vitamins, minerals and hormones, not just calcium and melatonin. Magnesium is needed for the absorption and utilisation of vitamin D – a nutrient important for immune function, energy levels, and bone health.

Prevention of cognitive decline

Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to prevent the cognitive decline associated with aging. Magnesium supports normal functioning of the chemical messengers in the brain. It also protects against damage caused by overstimulation of these messengers.

Natural Food Sources of Zinc And Magnesium

The body is unable to synthesise its own zinc and magnesium; food and supplements can used to boost intake of these nutrients.

Foods High In Zinc

Zinc is mostly found in animal-based products such as meat and fish. However, there are plenty of plant-based sources of zinc available, which also usually come packaged with other minerals such as omega-fatty acids. Food sources of zinc include:

  1. Beef
  2. Pork
  3. Turkey
  4. Shellfish
  5. Salmons
  6. Sardines
  7. Dairy products
  8. Fortified breakfast cereals
  9. Pumpkin seeds
  10. Peanut butter

Foods High in Magnesium

Plant-based foods are excellent sources of magnesium; they also contain other nutrients such as iron, protein, and fibre. Whilst the science for bathing with magnesium salts is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests this is an alternative way to boost magnesium intake. Food sources of magnesium include:

  1. Almonds
  2. Chia seeds
  3. Cashew nuts
  4. Edamame beans
  5. Peanut butter
  6. Spinach
  7. White potatoes
  8. Pinto beans
  9. Lentils
  10. Soy milk

Zinc And Magnesium Supplements

Let’s explore some common questions about taking zinc and magnesium – the most commonly asked questions are regarding quantity and timing of supplementation.

Can I Take Zinc And Magnesium Together?

Zinc and magnesium are fine to take together! In fact, taking these two minerals together may even provide more of a nutrient boost than taking them separately.

How Much Zinc And Magnesium Should I Take?

Adequate amounts of zinc and magnesium can be obtained via a balanced diet. However, supplements can be used to help boost zinc and magnesium levels, which can be helpful if dietary sources are restricted or if you have a particular health goal in mind.

Zinc Dosage

The recommended amount of zinc for an adult male is 9.5mg per day – women require slightly less, at 7mg per day. An adult is considered to be 19-64 years.

Magnesium Dosage

Similar to zinc, the dosage differs between men and women; adult men require 300mg per day, whilst adult women require 270mg per day.

Best Time To Take Zinc And Magnesium Supplements

Anecdotal evidence suggests that magnesium is best to take in the evening as it may help to improve sleep. Zinc can be taken at any time of day, although it may cause stomach upset in some people when taken on an empty stomach. If this is the case, avoid taking it late at night or before eating.

Can I Take Zinc And Magnesium With Other Vitamins?

Multivitamin supplements often contain both zinc and magnesium, along with various other vitamins and minerals. Zinc is also commonly combined with vitamin C to aid absorption of each nutrient, and boost immunity.

It is generally advised that magnesium and calcium supplements are not taken together, although many multivitamins contain both  these nutrients. High dose iron and zinc should also not be taken together, as these may exacerbate any GI side effects.

Talk To Your Doctor

This article is for educational purposes and and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. If you have concerns about your health then please contact your GP or other relevant healthcare professional. .

Take Home Message

In summary, zinc and magnesium are both essential nutrients which have a lot to offer. Benefits range from improved immune function, prevention of chronic diseases, healthier heart and skin, and improved mood and sleep. Zinc and magnesium can be found in a variety of foods; supplementation may be useful to boost intake of nutrients further.


What foods are high in zinc and magnesium?

Meat, shellfish and dairy products are all high in zinc. Magnesium is found mostly in plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds and beans.

Can I take zinc and magnesium together?

Absolutely! Taking these minerals together may be more effective than taking them separately.

Can I take zinc and magnesium supplements every day?

Over-use of zinc and magnesium may cause GI side effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or nausea. Stick to the recommended dosages if taking these supplements daily.

When should I take zinc and magnesium?

Like most things, this is personal preference. Some people find that taking magnesium in the evening is beneficial for a good nights sleep.

Can I take zinc and magnesium with other vitamins?

Zinc and magnesium are commonly found together in multivitamins, along with various other vitamins and minerals. The big ones to avoid taking together are high doses of iron and zinc; calcium and magnesium are also recommended to be taken separately.

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Rachel is a qualified Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) who holds an MSc in both Applied Human Nutrition and Physician Associate Studies. Over the last year, Rachel's been working as a freelance nutrition writer and coach, with her areas of interest including weight loss and specialist dietary requirements. As well as this, she's contributed towards published research on weight loss, and is currently studying the role of plant-based diets in health-conscious individuals.