Optimal Calcium and Magnesium Ratio

Balance Calcium and MagnesiumTwo hormones play an important role in calcium metabolism. Calcitonin (CT) increases calcium deposits in the bone matrix. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) favors calcium uptake in soft tissues. Magnesium suppresses PTH and stimulates CT. Hence, magnesium helps put calcium into bones - preventing osteoporosis, and helps remove it from soft issues - eliminating some forms of arthritis.

But how much calcium and magnesium is adequate?

The National Academy of Sciences establishes and updates recommended daily allowances ("RDAs"). For food labeling, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes "Daily Values" based on 1968 RDA tables. Using the FDA standard, the recommended calcium (1,000 mg) to magnesium (400 mg) ratio is 2.5 to 1.

RDAs are established to meet the needs of healthy individuals in specific gender and age groups. As shown below, the recommended calcium-magnesium ratio ranges from 2.4 to 1 for men aged 31 to 70 years and 3.8 to 1 for women aged 51 years and older. With few exceptions however, Americans consume inadequate amounts of calcium and magnesium. Based on the recommended intake less average consumption, women aged 51 to 70 years old should take calcium-magnesium in a 7 to 1 ratio!

Males Females
RDAs Calcium Magnesium Ratio Calcium Magnesium Ratio
14-18 y 1300 410 3.2 to 1 1300 360 3.6 to 1
19-30 y 1000 400 2.5 to 1 1000 310 3.2 to 1
31-50 y 1000 420 2.4 to 1 1000 320 3.1 to 1
51-70 y 1000 420 2.4 to 1 1200 320 3.8 to 1
70+ y 1200 420 2.9 to 1 1200 320 3.8 to 1
Amount Consumed
14-18 y 1173 282 4.2 to 1 878 223 3.9 to 1
19-30 y 1150 336 3.4 to 1 869 246 3.5 to 1
31-50 y 1085 350 3.1 to 1 844 262 3.2 to 1
51-70 y 961 328 2.9 to 1 826 268 3.1 to 1
70+ y 837 280 3.0 to 1 743 233 3.2 to 1
Adequate (Inadequate)
14-18 y (127) (128) 1.0 to 1 (422) (137) 3.1 to 1
19-30 y 150 (64)   (131) (64) 2.0 to 1
31-50 y 85 (71)   (156) (58) 2.7 to 1
51-70 y (40) (93) 0.4 to 1 (375) (53) 7.1 to 1
70+ y (363) (140) 2.6 to 1 (457) (87) 5.3 to 1

Your Optimal Ratio

Unfortunately, RDA's are averages and do not address the optimal balance of calcium to magnesium. Ideally, you should conduct an individualized diet analysis to determine how to change your diet and/or to supplement to obtain an adequate daily intake.  As always, individuals in poor health or taking medications should consult a physician before taking supplements. 

 

Sources:

  1. "Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients, Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide" U.S. Food and Drug Administration, October 2009
  2. "Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommmended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements" Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies, <http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/ Nutrition/DRIs/5_Summary%20Table%20Tables%201-4.pdf> (accessed December 19, 2011).
  3. “Nutrient Intakes from Food,” What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2008, Revised August 2010 < http://ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12355000/pdf/0708/Table_1_NIN_GEN_07.pdf> (accessed December 20, 2011).

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