Magnesium Bicarbonate Water as a Bioavailable Source of Magnesium


Magnesium’s Role in the Body

Magnesium plays a major role in disease prevention and overall health and has numerous functions in the body.  Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant intracellular divalent cation and has been recognized as a cofactor for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. Some of the processes in which magnesium is a cofactor include, but are not limited to:  1

  • blood pressure
  • cardiac excitability
  • cellular energy production and storage
  • DNA and RNA synthesis
  • glucose and insulin metabolism
  • muscular contraction
  • nerve transmission
  • neuromuscular conduction
  • protein synthesis
  • reproduction
  • stabilizing mitochondrial membranes
  • vasomotor tone

The dietary recommendation (Recommended Dietary Allowances/RDA) for magnesium is:

  • Adult men        400 to 420 mg daily
  • Adult women   310 to 320 mg daily
Table 1. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Magnesium
Life Stage Age Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 30 (AI) 30 (AI)
Infants 7-12 months 75 (AI) 75 (AI)
Children 1-3 years 80 80
Children 4-8 years 130 130
Children 9-13 years 240 240
Adolescents 14-18 years 410 360
Adults 19-30 years 400 310
Adults 31 years and older 420 320
Pregnancy 18 years and younger 400
Pregnancy 19-30 years 350
Pregnancy 31 years and older 360
Breast-feeding 18 years and younger 360
Breast-feeding 19-30 years 310
Breast-feeding 31 years and older 320

Source: LINUS PAULING INSTITUTE Micronutrient Information Center 

In the U.S., consumption of magnesium is far below the RDA.  A study conducted in 2012 indicated that forty-eight percent (48%) of the U.S. population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from food in 2005-2006, and the figure was down from 56% in 2001-2002. They also found that over 30 years, surveys indicate rising calcium-to-magnesium food-intake ratios among adults and the elderly in the United States, excluding intake from supplements, which favor calcium over magnesium.  2 

A magnesium deficit is often associated with the aging process.  The total body magnesium and total magnesium in the intracellular compartment tend to decrease with age. 

One way to determine if you have a magnesium deficit is to take the blood test called RBC magnesium.  This test is used to evaluate magnesium levels in red blood cells and is the most precise way to assess intracellular magnesium status.

Magnesium Deficit is Associated with Disease

Chronic magnesium deficits have been linked to an increased risk of numerous preclinical and clinical outcomes, including:  3

  • alterations in lipid metabolism
  • asthma
  • atherosclerosis
  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • cardiovascular mortality
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • endothelial dysfunction
  • glucose intolerance
  • hypertension
  • inflammation
  • insulin resistance
  • ischemic heart disease
  • neuropsychiatric disorders
  • oxidative stress
  • platelet aggregation/thrombosis
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • vascular remodeling

Magnesium’s role in cardiovascular health is critical.  Dietary magnesium intake has been shown to be inversely associated with mortality risk in individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease.  4 


Figure 1: Role of magnesium and calcium in the pathophysiology of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis.  (Source:  Magnesium and Vascular Changes in Hypertension)

Magnesium Bicarbonate as a Bioavailable Form of Magnesium Supplementation

There are many forms of supplemental and non-supplemental magnesium.  One form that is easy to consume and is considered bioavailable is magnesium bicarbonate.  Short term regular ingestion of magnesium bicarbonate supplemented water provides a source of orally available magnesium.  5  

Magnesium bicarbonate exists only in aqueous solution, so it can never be available in pill/capsule form.

Magnesium bicarbonate (Mg(HCO3)2) is the bicarbonate salt of magnesium. It is formed through the reaction of carbonic acid and magnesium hydroxide.

The chemical formula for magnesium bicarbonate is: 

Mg(OH)2 + 2 CO2 → Mg(HCO3)2

If magnesium bicarbonate is dried, the result will be magnesium carbonate.  Magnesium carbonate can be found as a supplement in powdered form. 

Magnesium bicarbonate can be made at home with just two ingredients:

  • Seltzer water (club soda)  (Carbonic acid)
  • Milk of Magnesia  (Magnesium hydroxide)

Following is the recipe for magnesium bicarbonate:

  • Buy 1 bottle of Milk of Magnesia – The bottle of Milk of Magnesia will have 1200 mg magnesium hydroxide per 15 ml or 1 tablespoon. 
  • Buy 1 liter of Club Soda (unflavored and low sodium)

1.  Chill the club soda for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2.  Shake the Milk of Magnesia well before using.

3.  Take club soda out of the refrigerator.

4.  Measure 3 Tbsp or 45ml of Milk of Magnesia.  Use plastic cap provided by manufacturer.  Three tablespoons is a total of 3600 mg of Milk of Magnesia in the 1 liter bottle of club soda.

5.   Pour the 3 TBSP – 45 ml of Milk of Magnesia into the 1 liter bottle. Replace the cap.

6.  Shake if 1 liter bottle vigorously for at least 1 minute or longer.  The sides of the plastic bottle may pull in when finished shaking. 

7.  Shake the bottle until all sediment has dissolved.   If there is some small sediment at the bottom of the bottle that is just unconverted Milk of Magnesia. 

8.  Place bottle back into the refrigerator.

The 1 liter bottle of magnesium bicarbonate is concentrated and should be diluted with water.  It is recommended to drink at least 4 ounces of the magnesium bicarbonate twice per day by adding it to your regular water consumption.