Benefits of magnesium and vitamin B6 for our health

Category: Integrative Nutrition


Magnesium and vitamin B6 are essential nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. A lack of either can have a negative impact on our health.

Both nutrients help combat tiredness and fatigue, contribute to normal energy metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system, normal protein synthesis and maintain normal psychological function. (1)

When taken together, their properties are multiplied. Studies show that the addition of vitamin B6 to magnesium supplements has a synergistic effect on magnesium. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble organic nutrient involved in the transport of magnesium across cell membranes through the formation of chelates. In this way, it helps magnesium to reach the places where it is needed, optimising its bioavailability and effectively preventing magnesium deficiency in certain organs. (2)


Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Most of it is deposited in the bones (about 60%). The rest is present in muscles, soft tissues and blood plasma. It is involved as a cofactor in more than 300 metabolic reactions, including, among others, ATP (energy) production, DNA synthesis and protein formation. It also regulates muscle and nervous system function, insulin metabolism and blood pressure. (3)

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a key role in people engaged in intense physical activity as it enhances exercise performance by mobilising blood sugar into muscle cells and helps remove lactic acid from muscles that causes soreness and fatigue. (4)

Insulin resistance is a major contributor to metabolic syndrome. Many people with metabolic syndrome have a magnesium deficiency in their blood, so magnesium supplementation could have beneficial effects against type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (5)

Furthermore, it has been found that magnesium may play a key role in brain function and mood. Magnesium deficiency is correlated with an increased predisposition to depression, insomnia and migraine headaches. (6-8)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder that many women experience in the days before menstruation. Symptoms include fluid retention, fatigue, irritability and abdominal cramps. Interestingly, low magnesium levels have been observed in women with this symptomatology. Some studies show that magnesium together with vitamin B6 can improve the mood of women with PMS, fluid retention and other symptoms characteristic of PMS. (9)


Magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed as its symptoms can be confused with other ailments. For this reason, it is important to be alert to the signals our body sends us. Among the most common symptoms are: muscle pain, cramps, restless leg syndrome, migraines, fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, hypertension and insomnia, among others. (3)

Fortunately, we have a wide variety of foods rich in magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables, cocoa, nuts, cereals and pulses. However, not all people have the same assimilation capacity, and due to the unhealthy lifestyle that some people follow and the stress we are subjected to in our daily lives, our magnesium levels may not be sufficient and we often have to resort to supplementation.

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the recommended daily amount of magnesium from the age of 18 is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. (10)

Stress stimulates the secretion of glucocorticoids which decrease intestinal absorption of magnesium. In times of high stress, increased energy requirements or when our mood or immune system is altered by various situations, a magnesium and vitamin B6 supplement may be beneficial to replenish magnesium levels and maintain good health. (11)

When choosing a magnesium supplement, it is important to consider the source of the magnesium, i.e., the purity of the ingredients and their bioavailability. It is also very important to consider whether it contains any other nutrients in addition to magnesium, such as vitamin B6, to enhance its absorption. (12)

A wide variety of magnesium supplements are now available. One of the least bioavailable forms is magnesium oxide, which is still present in many supplements. The purity of this ingredient is around 60% but it is rather insoluble and hardly absorbed (between 5-10%). Furthermore, magnesium oxide and other salts such as magnesium sulphate, carbonate or phosphate cause the most intestinal disturbances when a high intake of elemental magnesium is required.

A much more bioavailable alternative is magnesium citrate, which is absorbed 4-5 times more than magnesium oxide, making it one of the most bioavailable sources of magnesium. It is also much better tolerated and causes less gastrointestinal discomfort when high doses of magnesium need to be provided. (13)

Many professionals recommend taking these supplements on an empty stomach to promote absorption, or before bedtime to promote sleep and relaxation.


As mentioned above, vitamin B6 plays a key role in optimising magnesium absorption, but on its own it can also provide many vital benefits.

It is an essential vitamin for energy production and contributes to the proper functioning of homocysteine, protein and glycogen metabolism (14)

Its bioactive form (pyridoxal phosphate) acts as a coenzyme in the formation of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and GABA and therefore plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the nervous system, contributing to normal psychological function, relieving stress and improving mood. (15)

Pyridoxine not only regulates hormonal activity, but also contributes to the normal formation of red blood cells and keeps our immune system strong and healthy. An adequate intake of this vitamin helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue and strengthens our defences against bacteria and micro-organisms that can cause infections, especially in times of stress and colds. (16)

Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with cellular magnesium loss and has been linked to muscle and joint pain, anaemia, depression, neuropathic pain and osteoporosis.

On the other hand, the combination of vitamin D and supplemental magnesium and vitamin B6 may be key to maintaining an alert immune system and preserving good bone health. Magnesium absorption has been shown to increase linearly when magnesium is supplemented with vitamin D (17).


  1. Agostini, C. et al. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium. EFSA Journal;2010, 8(10):1807
  2. Abraham, G. E. et al. Effect of Vitamin B-6 on Plasma and Red Blood Cell Magnesium Levels in Premenopausal Women. Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science; 1981, Vol. 11, No. 4.
  3. Uwe Gröber et al. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy, Nutrients; 2015, 7, 8199-8226.
  4. Hsuan-Ying Chen et al. Magnesium Enhances Exercise Performance via Increasing Glucose Availability in the Blood, Muscle, and Brain during Exercise. PLOS ONE; 2014, 9(1), e85486.
  5. Mario Barbagallo et al. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes, World J Diabetes; 2015, 6(10): 1152-1157.
  6. A) Anna Serefko et al. Magnesium in depression, Pharmacological reports; 2013, 65, 547-554. B) Emily K. Tarleton et al. Magnesium Intake and Depression in Adults, JABFM; 2015,28(2), 249-256.
  7. A) Yingting Cao et al. Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up, Nutrients; 2018, 10, 1354. B) Gorica Djokic1 et al. The Effects of Magnesium –Melatonin -Vit B Complex Supplementation in Treatment of Insomnia. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Sep 30; 7(18):3101-3105.
  8. Alexander Mauskop et al. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm; 2012, 119:575–579.
  9. Ebrahimi, E. et al. Effects of magnesium and vitamin B6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. J. Caring Sci. 2012, 1, 183–189.
  10. Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for magnesium. EFSA Journal. 2015;13(7):4186.
  11. A) Boyle N.B et al. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017; 9(5),429. B) Pouteau E. et al. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesemia: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial. PLoS One. 2018;13(12): e0208454.
  12. Kisters, K. What is the correct magnesium supplement? Magnes. Res. 2013, 26, 41–42.
  13. Shechter M. et al. Comparison of magnesium status using X-ray dispersion analysis following magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate treatment of healthy subjects. Magnesium Research, 2012; 25 (1): 28-39.
  14. Patrick J Stover. Vitamin B6. Adv Nutr. 2015; 6(1): 132–133.
  15. Dakshinamurti, K. et al, Neuroendocrinology of Pyridoxine Deficiency. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 1988, Vol. 12, pp. 189-193.
  16. Adrian F. Gombart et al. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients; 2020, 12, 236.
  17. Pointillart A. et al. Effects of dietary vitamin D on magnesium absorption and bone mineral contents in pigs on normal magnesium intakes. Magnes Res; 1995, 8(1):19-26.

Share this post