Perspective: Characterization of Dietary Supplements Containing Calcium and Magnesium and Their Respective Ratio-Is a Rising Ratio a Cause for Concern?

Adv Nutr. 2021 Mar 31;12(2):291-297. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa160.


Low magnesium intakes coupled with high calcium intakes and high calcium-to-magnesium (Ca:Mg) intake ratios have been associated with increased risk for multiple chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, as well as some cancers (colorectal, prostate, esophageal), and total mortality. A high dietary Ca:Mg ratio (>2.60) may affect body magnesium status while, on the other hand, high intakes of magnesium could adversely impact individuals with an exceedingly low dietary Ca:Mg ratio (<1.70). Thus, a Ca:Mg ratio range of 1.70-2.60 (weight to weight) has been proposed as an optimum range. Data from NHANES surveys have shown the mean Ca:Mg intake ratio from foods alone for US adults has been >3.00 since 2000. One-third of Americans consume a magnesium supplement with a mean dose of 146 mg/d, and 35% of Americans consume a calcium supplement with a mean dose of 479 mg/d. Our review of Ca:Mg ratios in dietary supplements sold in the United States and listed in NIH's Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) found a mean ratio of 2.90 across all calcium- and magnesium-containing products, with differences by product form. The ratios ranged from a low of 0.10 in liquid products to a high of 48.5 in powder products. Thirty-one percent of products fell below, 40.5% fell within, and 28.3% fell above the ratio range of 1.70-2.60. Our findings of calculated Ca:Mg ratios from dietary supplements coupled with food-intake data suggest that, in individuals with high calcium intakes from diet and/or supplements, magnesium supplementation may be warranted to establish a more favorable dietary Ca:Mg ratio in their total diet. Additional research may provide greater insight into whether the Ca:Mg ratio is a biomarker of interest for moderating chronic disease and which population groups may derive benefit from moderating that ratio.

Keywords: Ca:Mg; calcium; calcium-to-magnesium ratio; cancer; chronic disease; dietary supplement; magnesium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcium*
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Magnesium*
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • United States


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium