Last updated September 7, 2017 by Lisa Richards, CNC

Candida And Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium tablets

Are you one of the millions of people who are deficient in Magnesium? This common mineral is essential for your energy levels, bone strength, mood, and much more. Yet the majority of us are not getting anywhere near enough in our diets. Chronic deficiency leads to a number of different diseases and conditions, and it can worsen the symptoms of Candida too.

The average American male gets around three quarters of the recommended daily amount of Magnesium – a paltry 310mg vs. the 400mg that our bodies require. Seventy five percent of us get less than we need. This is important because deficiency can lead to a variety of chronic health problems.

Magnesium is required for more than 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, including helping us to produce energy, maintain a healthy nervous system, and regulate blood sugar. It also plays a vital role in removing the toxic byproducts of Candida.

Magnesium Deficiency Can Worsen Candida Symptoms

A lack of Magnesium can worsen your Candida symptoms for one simple reason: Magnesium is needed to break down the toxic metabolites of Candida albicans. Without enough Magnesium, your body is simply unable to do the job of removing these substances from your body.

The byproducts of Candida albicans include ethanol, uric acid and ammonia, but the most important is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin that affects your brain, nervous system and many other internal organs, as well as damaging your red blood cells and reducing the capacity of your blood to carry oxygen around your body. If your body is unable to effectively process and remove it, this toxic substance can affect numerous different systems and cause a variety of symptoms. Acetaldehyde is also produced when you drink alcohol, and it is thought to be the primary cause of the next morning’s hangover!

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Although Magnesium is not the only nutrient needed to break down acetaldehyde (molybdenum is also very important), it plays a major role. There is one particular enzyme that your body needs to turn toxic acetaldehyde into harmless acetate. This enzyme is named Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, and it requires Magnesium to function properly. Without enough Magnesium, your body is unable to activate the Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, which is therefore unable to break down acetaldehyde, which in turn can lead to symptoms like headaches and fatigue.

Candida Causes Magnesium Deficiency Too

I just explained how a lack of Magnesium can make Candida symptoms worse, but you should know that Candida can also prevent you from getting enough Magnesium in the first place. Health issues are rarely a case simply of one thing leading to another, and this is a great example of how cause and effect are often inextricably linked. In this case, Candida albicans actually prevents you from getting enough of the very mineral you need to combat its effects. This is why Candida sufferers are often even more deficient in Magnesium.

In the early stages of a Candida overgrowth, your body copes relatively well with the extra waste products that need to be eliminated. Your liver and kidneys are working effectively, your digestive system is functioning well, and your body’s various elimination pathways are doing what they should. The acetaldehyde, uric acid, and other Candida metabolites are being efficiently removed. However, as your gut flora become more compromised and the yeast-bacteria imbalance starts to grow, your body starts to become overwhelmed.

As increasing amounts of the Candida metabolites begin to appear, more and more of your Magnesium is used to break them down. If you started with a healthy surplus of Magnesium, it might take some time for you to become deficient. If you were deficient already (like most of us), then the onset of the typical Candida symptoms might happen very quickly. Without changes in diet or supplementation, your body simply runs out of the nutrients that it needs to process these toxins.

As if that weren’t enough, we also need to factor in the effect that Candida has on your digestion. When the balance of gut flora in your small intestine is compromised, your gut loses much of its ability to extract and absorb nutrients from your food. A primary role of the small intestine is to process and absorb the micronutrients that you eat in your food. When it is unable to perform this role adequately, you can become deficient in many of the vitamins and minerals (including Magnesium) that you need to recover your health.

So, as you can see, the development of a Candida overgrowth can lead to Magnesium deficiency in two ways. Firstly, it depletes the (probably limited) stores of Magnesium that you already have. And secondly, it interferes with your body’s ability to absorb more Magnesium from your diet. Add in the fact that most of us barely have enough Magnesium to start with, and it becomes apparent how easily the Candida yeast can benefit from a lack of this important mineral.

Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?

Why are we deficient in Magnesium? At first, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. If we evolved in an environment with low magnesium, surely our bodies would have adapted to it over time! So why is it such a modern day problem, and where has all this Magnesium gone? The answer lies in the way that our diets have changed.

The first culprit is modern-day farming practices. Although intensive farming has been around for less than 100 years, that has been sufficient to strip farmed soil of many of its nutrients. Studies have shown that the Magnesium levels in today’s vegetables are at least 25% lower than they were before 1950. Depleted soil leads to less nutritive food, which contributes to lower Magnesium levels in your blood and tissues.

Meanwhile, the way that your food is processed has a huge effect on its Magnesium content too. Refined pastas and breads (both on the foods to avoid list) often contain 80-95% less Magnesium than the whole grain equivalent. If you needed another reason to avoid refined grains (and there are plenty of reasons!), there it is.

The content of our diets is different now too. We eat more refined grains, fewer vegetables, and fewer nuts and seeds. In other words, we eat more of the foods that contain little Magnesium, and much less of the foods that are rich in it. This has become such a problem that many in developed countries get a large part of their Magnesium from foods like French fries and beer — simply because those are the foods that they consume the most!

Lastly, the epidemics of diabetes and obesity that are sweeping the world might be playing a role too. There is a close relationship between low Magnesium levels and high blood sugar. Just as a high sugar diet can contribute to a Magnesium deficiency, so a lack of Magnesium seems to disrupt blood sugar regulation.

There are numerous reasons why should be sure to consume enough Magnesium each day. It is absolutely necessary for optimal health, and a required element for good functioning of the cardiovascular, central, and muscular systems.

Magnesium also plays a role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism. Research has shown that supplementing with oral magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Keeping your blood sugar stable is a good way to improve your health, particularly if your are trying to rebalance your gut flora and beat a Candida overgrowth.

Getting Your Magnesium Levels Back To Normal

There are plenty of ways to restore your Magnesium levels. Supplementation is obviously one route, but adding the right foods to your diet can be a powerful tool as well. In general terms, nuts and seeds contain the most Magnesium. Fish and vegetables are also good sources, while meat and dairy products tend to contain very little. See below a table showing the Magnesium content of a few sample foods. Men should be aiming for around 400mg per day, and women for around 320mg, depending on your age and health.

FoodServing SizeAmount of Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds1/4 cup317mg
Brazil nuts1/4 cup133mg
Almonds1/4 cup109mg
Wild salmon, cooked2.5oz92mg
Pine nuts1/4 cup86mg
Cooked Spinach1/2 cup83mg
Halibut, cooked2.5oz80mg
Mackerel, cooked2.5oz73mg
Okra, cooked1/2 cup50mg

There are some who will tell you that Magnesium ‘feeds’ or stimulates Candida in some way, or promotes the formation of biofilms. There is a kernel of truth in this, in that Candida does actually need Magnesium to survive. But then so do all living organisms! Restricting your Magnesium intake to combat Candida, and deliberately making yourself Magnesium-deficient, would be counter-productive and likely worsen your health problems. On the other hand, eliminating sources of excess sugar (like my Candida treatment plan does) is a much more practical and effective goal.

It is relatively easy to get tested for Magnesium deficiency, but a quick look at someone’s diet is often enough. Given that the majority of us are lacking in this essential nutrient, only those who eat a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and seeds are likely to have acceptable levels. If getting enough Magnesium from your diet is too difficult or impractical, consider supplementation. There are lots of different forms, but Magnesium Glycinate is generally considered to be the best. It is very bioavailable (meaning that your body can actually absorb and use it), and it doesn’t tend to cause the diarrhea that other Magnesium supplements can.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for your continuing articles that contribute to understanding the multiple faceted defense against Candida. I look forward to reading what you know. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

  2. Marcin Kaminski says:

    Great article! Another reason to supplement with magnesium.

  3. Claire says:

    What are your thoughts on magnesium sulfate or magnesium chloride that can be used in a bath or as a spray or lotion to be absorbed by the skin? I learned during pregnancy (when dealing with intentse Braxton Hicks contractions) that the skin is potentially a good way to absorb magnesium and increase the level of magnesium in ones body. Thanks!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Claire, Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate) baths are a great way to get more Magnesium. Here is a small research study which concluded that “Bathing in Epsom salts is a safe and easy way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels in the body”.

      1. willemijn says:

        Thanks Lisa for this solution ; taking a bath with magnesium.
        After my chirurie and removal of the gallbladder I developed candida in my intestines because of the medicines probably……….anyway I can t eat that much fatty foods and 1 fourth of a cup of nuts or so is too much for my guts since there s no gall enough to digest it and I am really suffering now because I have lost so much weight.
        I did have to start all over the diet about 6 times and I really didnt know what to do about my insufficient resistance in this matter .

        best regards


        1. Jessie says:

          Have you tried bile salts or artichoke extract, to help with fats?

  4. Brad says:

    I thought that we were supposed to avoid supplementing with magnesium, calcium, and iron because they contribute to biofilms. Is this not true?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Brad, Magnesium is used in biofilm creation, but it is also an essential nutrient used in many, many different reactions within the body. Any living organism needs Magnesium, and most of us don’t have enough. Intentionally leaving yourself deficient in Magnesium, just so you can slow down biofilm creation, is a really bad idea!

      1. Jane says:

        Hi I keep feeling spaced out and it’s not getting better at all. I’m just losing weight that I don’t want to lose because I’m already small. I’m taking so many different supplements bc I was told I’m not absorbing nutrients. This is truly annoying.

        1. Lisa Richards says:

          Hi Jane, make sure you’re eating enough calories (avocado, coconut oil and coconut bread are good options). And if you’re worried about not absorbing micronutrients, also focus on getting lots of really nutritive foods in your diet (liver, bone broth, sprouts, eggs etc).

        2. Maria says:

          I was on the mirena IUD (a form of birthcontrol) and it made me deficient in so many different minerals…if you have the IUD that might be why you are deficient and your body cant make use of the minerals you are getting. If not, I am sorry I mentioned it but just wanted to say just in case you were on it. And for anyone reading this comment and want to know more about what im talking about, just google negative side effects of the mirena iud

          1. Lee Ford says:

            Hi Jane
            You need not apologize for your comment on the Mirena IUD as you are
            100% correct that it causes deficiencies.
            Thank you for your comment.
            Healthy regards

  5. jackie nitowski says:

    Lisa, can you please explain what a biofilm is?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Sure, here’s a quick explanation: (I’ve added the link to the article too)

  6. Aliya says:

    Thank you for sharing info about magnesium I have been suffering with vaginal Allergies due to sugar intake and just figured out that my magnesium levels are very low and I learned thru your article how candida gets worse with low magnesium.

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Glad I could help 🙂

  7. electriclady281 says:

    I knocked out my candida in under a month with Greek oregano oil from Amazon, using a pendulum to dowse for the proper dosage.

    1. aviolet says:

      Hi electric lady, can you share how you took the greek oregano oil~ topically or internally… and diluted in a carrier oil? Pure oregano oil can be too intense to take internally or even use topically. But it’s amazing for anything viral/bacterial/fungal. Thanks for the article Lisa Richards~ I’ve started taking magnesium baths.

    2. Ilana says:

      I’ve heard Oregano Oil is extremely effective, but please note, it is not considered safe for pregnant women, if you are one. I would also imagine it’s unsafe for nursing women (or their babies, via the breastmilk), although I have not seen anything written on this. Women out there who suffer form Candida, it can be tempting to go after any effective plan to beat candida, but if you are pregnant or nursing, be very, very thorough in your research about that is safe for mother, baby and fetus.

  8. Colleen says:

    Electric Lady, Can you tell me the difference between Greek oregano oil and regular? Was your candida overgrowth from too many antibiotics? My son was on antibiotics for 3 years for a horrible disease and is suffering even more now.

    1. Cheryl-Lynn says:

      Hi Colleen – sorry to hear about your son. My daughter has also had trouble since being on antibiotics and she was only on them for a short time, but it seems to have lead to Juvenile arthritis and now we are trying to fix it with diet (in addition to the potent pharmaceuticals she is on).

  9. Tandi Hendrix Caldwell says:

    Thanks for this article! Can you elaborate the relationship between pH and CandIda? I was able to clear my psoriasis and other health issues related to antibiotics and steroid use by using an alkaline diet based on the book “The pH Miracle”. Now I am addressing the candida and magnesium issues. Anyone interested in friending on facebook so we can keep learning together? Tandi Hendrix Caldwell

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Tandi I actually wrote about this here:

  10. Linda says:

    I just spent some time in our local health food store with one of their advisers, Yaaaaaa….after all these years of suffering I think she figured out my many symptoms are from Candida. I am so excited too start my path to being healthy again. Even though my budget does not allow for the purchase of your books I am going to do my best to change things on my own. I Wanted to thank you for all of your great information on your website. Good Heath to all suffering from this for there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Thanks so much, and good luck on your journey!

  11. David says:

    I have used oregano oil for 3 months. It does help but unsure it kills all candida. The process to get rid of this has been years for me and still going. About to start re introducing friendly bacteria after a 5-6 month cleanse and building up atp levels.

    Wondered whether you had any articles, research, views on taking b infantis or other probiotic supplements with amino acid supplement i. e. at the same time. Just thinking this may help multiply friendly bacteria?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      I don’t see how an amino acid supplement would help the gut flora, but it probably wouldn’t hurt either. However, you should be able to get enough amino acids in your diet without needing supplements! Good sources are eggs, meat, fish plus some nuts and seeds. A great example is quinoa, which is actually a complete source of all the required amino acids.

    2. Maria says:

      I have heard that drinking about a forth a cup of coconut oil a day can help destroy candida and I have started taking it and can feel a difference in my gut, it is a very soothing oil and has lots of other health benefits!

      1. Mary Titus says:

        It was from adding lots of coconut oil to my diet that lead to my realization that I have candida overgrowth in the first place . I had thick black toenails that , unexpectedly , they began to clear up. Even my thickest blackest toenail cleared up. I knew of coconut’s ability to fight fungus and pathogens but this was amazing. After accepting the fact that I most likely have candida I take coconut oil consumption even more seriously.

        1. Shelli says:

          How does one actually drink coconut oil. Just the thought makes me gag.

          1. Lisa Richards says:

            Not everyone likes the taste! But you can easily cook with it, bake with it, add it to smoothies.. lots of different options 🙂

        2. Ilana says:

          Coconut oil is much more enjoyable in recipes! Why bother drinking it straight?
          You can sneak a tablespoon into your morning hot beverage, drizzle it over food, cook or bake with it, etc. It could quickly add up to 1/4 cup that way.

  12. David says:

    Amazing how doctors aren’t able to diagnose candida!

    1. Mary Titus says:

      I agree, I mean after all, should they not have this skill?

  13. Mary Titus says:

    Hi, I recently made the connection of candida overgrowth with several health issues. I began consuming a more anti-candid diet. I did not exclude everything that I should but I noticed that I am not experiencing the calf and toe cramping at night that I commonly experienced if I did not take my magnesium that day. It is amazing that I have improved my health by making small changes.My goal us to increase these changes because I ‘be lived with this for many years…probably since high school when I began breaking our with zits. Thank you for this information…off to get some ginger

    1. willemijn says:

      dont forget the coconut!

  14. Fasiha says:

    I want to know if my fillings have some connection with candida i have started garlic and coconut oil and i have cut down on sugar based things is this enough

  15. Lisa K. says:

    How do you detoxify acetaldehyde other than magnesium? I take loads of magnesium and am struggling with candida albicans after adhering strictly to the diet (all organic) for several months and doing all anti-fungals. Actually, my body won’t allow me to eat anything other than chicken, beef, a handful of veggies (cooked) and spices. Otherwise I have violent diarrhea, joint pain, h/a’s, more than usual brain fog, and the list goes on and on. I have such Mg defieciency that my body requires me to take Angstrom Mg, a pico-ionic Mg, and a Mg topical spray throughout the day. I also take Mg baths with Mg flakes. All forms of the Mg that I take are highly absorbable, but I shouldn’t have to take sooo much to avoid leg cramps, heart palpitations and sleepless nights. I also have the Mg dosage down to a science so as not to have diarrhea. I weigh105 lbs and keep losing weight! I’m on my own, as Western docs are clueless with my case, and my Functional Medicine doctor doesn’t know what to do with me after months of trying what she’s been trained to do. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Marty says:

      Just a guess, but sounds to me like you might benefit from eating more calcium to help balance out and increase the effectiveness of your high magnesium consumption.

      1. Fiona S says:

        Calcium and other high protein (meats), fermented, medications or other sythetic ingredients like supplements, food additives deplete our natural magnesium stores.. Liver, bone broths and eggs are a bad idea as their protein content is higher than their magnesium content which leads to continued magnesium depletion. Nutrients cannot be absorbed into cells without enough natural magnesium.

        1. Janet says:

          Hi Thank you for your information. How do you know this about Calcium and Supplements depleting Magnesium?

    2. daniel o says:

      dont forget K2 works synergistically to improve absorption of mg

    3. Jenny says:

      Lisa K. April 16,2015. I know it’s been awhile but i have a comment on your low mag. I am going through this & am seeing a Nethrologist & am getting Mag IV twice a week. Maybe you can check that out.. hope your feeling better.

  16. Mike says:

    Great article. Magnesium is great but I also can get rid of candida within 5 weeks with just a garlic

    1. Connie says:

      Pls describe how you did this?

  17. Emma says:

    Hi there,

    Lisa and all – is Magnesium Citramate safe to take when dealing with Candida? It’s the Thorne Research brand.

    Thanks for the great article and info!

  18. Jen says:

    Can magnesium cause thrush? I have been taking two 150mg magnesium citrate for 5 weeks. Probably a week or two after I started I began itching and last week I noticed my tongue was coated. I do not want to stop taking the magnesium as it has lowered my blood pressure, stopped the inner shaking and probably some nights help me sleep. Since January 2015 I have eaten a clean diet, have bone broth and coconut oil so I was very disappointed the thrush has appeared magnesiumis the only thing different in my diet. Will the magnesium create then clear the thrust do you think?

    1. TJ says:

      Hi Jen-
      When I take Mg I also get thrush. I’ve found that Rainbow Light’s Cal, Mg, Zinc- if taken before bed helps without causing thrush. I’m sure I am Mg deficient (chronic tightness in a few key muscles, leg cramps, poor sleep, muscle soreness, constipation, etc.) but dealing with thrush is far worse than any of those symptoms. I’d love to hear more about Mg supplements and thrush!!

      1. los says:

        I heard that magnesium malate doesn’t feed candida because its in a acid form, the citrate is more alkaline which I was taking. one afternoon I took 1500mg I opened up the capsules and boy with in minutes I felt like superman. about two hours later. I got a bit fatigued and tired, so I now know it was the magnesium citrate feeding the beast. I’m going to try the malate and do the Epson salt baths, because I know how important this mineral is to the body!! good health to all

        1. Tony says:

          So the effects of the malate only lasted a couple of hours? Doesn’t sound that great?

  19. julie says:

    For those who have difficulty taking enough magnesium orally because of digestive problems: try Dr Shealys magnesium lotion. Slather it on whole body twice a day in addition to epsom salt bath. This way the magnesium is absorbed through the skin bypassing the digestive system. Lotion is not cheap but totally worth it!

  20. Jon says:

    I took magnesium supplements after having a toe fungus for over two years that NEVER got better, only progressively worse (I have pictures that I used to track its progress since it was worrying me). Once I began taking the pills, the fungus slowly but surely died down, starting toward the base of the toenail and then finally reaching up to the end. Never before have I seen this fungus die down, so I know for sure that it was the magnesium.

  21. Bl says:

    Your comment makes no sense.
    Magnesium pills helped or made your toe fungus worse?

  22. JD says:

    Thank you, Lisa!

    I am one of the many Candida sufferers and I bought and took Magnesium Glycinate after reading your article and wow.. It gave me lots and lots of energy, ability to focus, and it took a really bad headache from me!

    I can’t thank you enough.. Now I am going to work on the tinnitus that I got with Candida overgrowth.

    Wish you a best luck (=


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