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Calcium and Magnesium Absorption Basics

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 07/04/2024

Calcium and magnesium are two essential minerals our bodies need to function properly. But getting enough of each isn't enough. The ratio between these two nutrients can significantly impact how well our bodies use them. 

Let's explore why the calcium-magnesium ratio matters and how to get it right for your health.

Why the Calcium Magnesium Ratio Is Important

Calcium and magnesium work together in our bodies, but they also compete for absorption. Consuming too much of one can interfere with the absorption and utilization of the other. This delicate balance is why the calcium magnesium ratio is crucial for overall health.

Calcium is well-known for its role in bone health. It's vital for muscle contractions, nerve signaling, and cellular communication throughout the body. Without enough calcium, we'd struggle with basic functions like moving our muscles or thinking clearly.

Magnesium, on the other hand, is often overlooked but equally important. It helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It's also necessary for making DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione.

Magnesium even plays a role in energy production and bone formation.

When these two minerals are out of balance, it can lead to various health issues. Too much calcium without enough magnesium can cause problems like muscle cramps, kidney stones, and even calcification of soft tissues.

Meanwhile, insufficient calcium relative to magnesium can lead to weakened bones and teeth.

The Ideal Calcium Magnesium Ratio

For years, the standard recommendation was a 2:1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio. This meant consuming twice as much calcium as magnesium. However, recent research suggests this may not be optimal for everyone.

Many individuals benefit from a 1:1 ratio due to several factors: many people already get plenty of calcium from their diets, magnesium is often lacking in modern diets, and a 1:1 ratio can help prevent the buildup of excess calcium in soft tissues.

Individual needs can vary based on age, gender, pre-existing health conditions, and diet. It's important to consider these factors when determining the best calcium magnesium ratio for you.

Woman with a leg cramp

Signs You Might Need to Adjust Your Calcium Magnesium Ratio

Your body communicates when your mineral balance is off. Here are some signs that your calcium magnesium ratio might need adjusting:

Too Much Calcium Relative to Magnesium

  • Muscle cramps or spasms.

  • Kidney stones.

  • Calcification of soft tissues.

  • Stiffness in joints.

  • Osteoarthritis.

  • High blood pressure.

Too Much Magnesium Relative to Calcium

  • Weak bones or teeth.

  • Muscle weakness.

  • Irregular heartbeat.

  • Numbness or tingling sensations.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's worth discussing your mineral intake with a healthcare provider.

How to Achieve the Right Calcium Magnesium Ratio

Balancing your calcium magnesium ratio isn't just about taking supplements. It's about your overall diet and lifestyle. Here are some helpful strategies:

1. Eat a proper Diet

Focus on whole foods that naturally contain both calcium and magnesium. Good sources include:

  • Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens.

  • Nuts and seeds, especially almonds and pumpkin seeds.

  • Legumes like beans and lentils.

  • Fish, particularly sardines and salmon with bones.

2. Consider Your Dairy Intake

Dairy products are high in calcium but relatively low in magnesium. If you consume a lot of dairy, you might need to increase your magnesium intake to balance things out.

Alternatively, you could reduce dairy consumption and get more calcium from plant-based sources that also contain magnesium.

3. Be Mindful of Supplements

If you take calcium supplements, ensure you're also getting enough magnesium. Many people find it helpful to take a combined calcium-magnesium supplement with a 1:1 ratio. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

4. Pay Attention to Absorption

Certain factors can affect how well your body absorbs calcium and magnesium. For example:

  • Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption. Make sure you're getting enough through sunlight exposure or vitamin D supplements.

  • High doses of zinc or iron can hinder magnesium absorption. If you take these supplements, space them out from your magnesium intake.

  • Phytic acid, found in some plant foods, can bind to minerals and reduce absorption. Soaking or sprouting grains and legumes can help reduce phytic acid content.

5. Address Digestive Health

Poor gut health can interfere with mineral absorption. If you have digestive issues, addressing them can improve your overall mineral status.

This might involve:

  • Taking probiotics to support a healthy gut microbiome.

  • Addressing any food sensitivities or intolerances.

  • Ensuring adequate stomach acid production, which is necessary for mineral absorption.

The Role of Other Nutrients in the Calcium Magnesium Ratio

While we're focusing on the calcium magnesium ratio, these minerals don't work in isolation. Other nutrients play crucial roles in how our bodies use calcium and magnesium. Let's examine a few of them:

Special Considerations for Calcium Magnesium Ratio

Certain life stages and health conditions may require special attention to the calcium magnesium ratio:

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, calcium and magnesium demands increase. Working with a healthcare provider is essential to ensure adequate intake of both minerals without disrupting the balance.


People with osteoporosis or at high risk for it may need higher calcium intake. However, it's crucial to increase magnesium intake as well to maintain the proper ratio. This coordinated approach ensures that the calcium is being used effectively for bone health.

Heart Health

Both calcium and magnesium are essential for heart health. Magnesium is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. People with heart conditions should pay close attention to their calcium magnesium ratio and consult with their doctor about optimal intake.

Kidney Function

Individuals with kidney problems may need to be extra careful with their mineral intake. The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating calcium and magnesium levels in the body. Close monitoring and guidance from a healthcare provider are essential in these cases.

Farmer holding eggs

Balanced Wellness

An imbalance can lead to issues such as muscle cramps, fatigue, and poor bone health. Integrating magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens and nuts, along with calcium sources, such as dairy or fortified alternatives, can help achieve this balance.

A nutritious and delicious way to support this balance is by enjoying a keto egg roll in a bowl. This dish combines protein, healthy fats, and low-carb vegetables, offering a well-rounded meal that complements the calcium-magnesium ratio.

By focusing on this balance, you can enhance your overall wellness and enjoy tasty keto-friendly meals.


Understanding and optimizing your calcium-magnesium ratio can profoundly affect your overall health. From bone strength to heart function, muscle performance to nerve signaling, these two minerals work together in countless ways throughout our bodies.

By paying attention to your diet, considering supplements wisely, and addressing factors that affect absorption, you can achieve the right balance for your needs.

The goal is to create the optimal environment for your body to use calcium and magnesium effectively.

As always, it's best to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your unique situation. With the right calcium magnesium ratio, you're setting the foundation for better health and vitality.

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