Effect of magnesium on the intestinal absorption of calcium in man

J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Oct;13(5):485-92. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1994.10718439.


Objective: In view of the widespread use of magnesium (Mg) as a nutritional supplement, we investigated whether Mg would affect the absorption of calcium (Ca) as the intestinal absorption sites for Mg and Ca differ.

Methods: The intestinal absorption of Ca, using 47CaCl2 as the tracer, and metabolic balances of Ca, phosphorus (P) and Mg were determined in five adult males under strictly controlled dietary conditions in control studies and during Mg supplementation. Mg was given as magnesium oxide (MgO) in 10 studies during two Ca intakes: five studies during a low Ca intake of 241 mg/day and five studies during a normal Ca intake of 812 mg/day. Dietary Mg intake ranged from 241 to 264 mg/day in control studies. During Mg supplementation, the total Mg intake ranged from 789 to 826 mg/day.

Results: There was no change of the intestinal Ca absorption during Mg supplementation during the two Ca intakes. The only change was the higher 1-hour 47Ca plasma level in the 47Ca absorption studies during the high Mg intake. Urinary Ca increased during Mg supplementation only during the low Ca intake, the Ca balance became more negative but this difference was not significant. There was also no change in Ca excretion or Ca balance during the high Mg intake at the normal Ca intake of 800 mg/day. P balance studies showed a slight decrease in urinary P and an increase in fecal P, but the P balances did not change. Mg balances were negative in control studies during the two Ca intakes. Supplemental Mg increased both urinary and fecal Mg excretion and the Mg balance became positive, but these differences were not significant.

Conclusion: The increased Mg intake of 826 mg did not affect intestinal Ca absorption determined with tracer doses of 47Ca during Ca intakes of 241 and 812 mg/day.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Calcium Radioisotopes
  • Feces
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Magnesium / urine
  • Magnesium Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium Oxide / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / urine


  • Calcium Radioisotopes
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium Oxide
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Calcium