Magnesium Carbonate: What is it? Preparation, Reactions, Uses, Deficiency and Harmful Effects

It is an inorganic salt which is a white solid. Several primary and hydrated forms of magnesium carbonate also exist as minerals.

Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3 (archaic name magnesia alba), is generally considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration Magnesium carbonate can be used in both food and medicine.

Magnesium carbonate is a white powdery compound in numerous hydrated, primary, and mineral forms.

One of the most common ways to obtain magnesium carbonate is to extract the mineral magnesite. Synthetic preparation of magnesium carbonate is also possible and can be achieved by combining a soluble magnesium salt with sodium bicarbonate.

As a form of Magnesium, this compound is often used as a supplement to raise a person’s magnesium levels or increase the magnesium content of some foods.

Additionally, magnesium carbonate can serve as a good additive, specifically an acidity regulator or color enhancer.

The maximum amount of magnesium carbonate supplements that a person should take daily is 350 mg.



Magnesium carbonate is usually obtained by extracting the mineral magnesite. Seventy percent of the world’s supply is mined and prepared in China.

Magnesium carbonate can be prepared in the laboratory by reaction between any soluble magnesium salt and sodium bicarbonate:

  • MgCl2 (aq) + 2NaHCO3 (aq) → MgCO3 (s) + 2NaCl (aq) + H2O (l) + CO2 (g).

If magnesium chloride (or sulfate) is treated with aqueous sodium carbonate, a precipitate of basic magnesium carbonate, a hydrated complex of magnesium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, forms instead of the magnesium carbonate itself:

  • 5MgCl2 (aq) + 5Na2CO3 (aq) + 5H2O (l) → Mg (OH) 2 · 3MgCO3 · 3H2O (s) + Mg (HCO3) 2 (aq) + 10NaCl (aq).

High purity industrial routes include a path through magnesium bicarbonate, which can be formed by combining a suspension of magnesium hydroxide and carbon dioxide at high pressure and moderate temperature.

Baking soda dries in a vacuum, causing it to lose carbon dioxide and a water molecule:

  • Mg (OH) 2 + 2 CO2 → Mg (HCO3) 2.
  • Mg (HCO3) 2 → MgCO3 + CO2 + H2O.


With acids

Like many common Group 2 metal carbonates, magnesium carbonate reacts with aqueous acids to release carbon dioxide and water:

  • MgCO3 + 2 HCl → MgCl2 + CO2 + H2O.
  • MgCO3 + H2SO4 → MgSO4 + CO2 + H2O.


At high temperatures, MgCO3 decomposes into magnesium oxide and carbon dioxide. This process is essential in the production of magnesium oxide. This process is called calcination:

  • MgCO3 → MgO + CO2 (ΔH = + 118 kJ/mol).

The decomposition temperature is 350 ° C (662 ° F). However, the oxide calcination is generally not considered complete below 900 ° C due to the interfering readsorption of the released carbon dioxide.

It is also interesting that hydrates in salts lose water at different temperatures during decomposition. For example, in trihydrate, whose molecular formula can be written as Mg (HCO3) (OH) • 2 (H2O), the dehydration steps occur at 157 ° C and 179 ° C as follows:

  • Mg (HCO3) (OH) • 2 (H2O) → Mg (HCO3) (OH) • (H2O) + H2O a 157°C.
  • Mg (HCO3) (OH) • (H2O) → Mg (HCO3) (OH) + H2O a 179°C.

The best time of day to take Magnesium

Generally, an hour or two before bedtime is the preferred time to take Magnesium. This way, you get its relaxing benefits before going to bed, which is perfect for helping you relax at night.

If you forget to take Magnesium in the evening, take it whenever it’s most convenient for you, whether in the morning, at lunchtime, or in the evening.

You don’t have to take your supplements with food, but you may want to take a supplement on an empty stomach cause mild discomfort.

This is very individual and is something you should try for yourself to see how you react. The best sources of Magnesium:

Considering all the essential functions magnesium plays in the body, it is a good idea to consider taking magnesium supplements regularly and eating foods rich in Magnesium.

Magnesium can be obtained through many different foods; below is a list of foods rich in Magnesium.

  • Bone broth
  • Sea salt.
  • Most nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.).
  • Yeast.
  • Cacao.
  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, baby spinach, chard, etc.).

How the body uses Magnesium

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, every organ in the body needs Magnesium to function correctly. It is particularly critical for effective heart, kidney, and muscle function.

As a food additive, magnesium carbonate is known as E504, for which the only known side effect is that it can function as a laxative in high concentrations.

If you are deficient in Magnesium, supplementation with magnesium carbonate will help bring your body’s mineral levels to normal levels.


Magnesium carbonate can be a helpful supplement for some people. It is essential to weigh the potential benefits against the known risks and side effects of any medication.

Magnesium plays a vital role in regulating intestinal function, the formation of strong bones and teeth, the regulation of blood sugar, the action of the heart muscle, and the relaxation of blood vessels.

The primary use of magnesium carbonate is the production of magnesium oxide by calcination. Magnesite and dolomite minerals are used to produce refractory bricks. MgCO3 is also used in flooring, fireproofing, fire extinguishing compositions, cosmetics, dusting powders, and toothpaste.

Magnesium carbonate can do this because it doesn’t dissolve in water, just acid, where it fizzes (bubble).

Magnesium carbonate is also used in taxidermy to whiten skulls. It can be mixed with hydrogen peroxide to create a paste, then spread over the head to give it a white finish.

Magnesium carbonate, more commonly known as “chalk,” is also used as a drying agent; most hand chalk is used by athletes such as gymnasts, rock climbers, and weightlifters to dry their hands.

This chalk absorbs water quickly and is not the same as blackboard chalk, calcium carbonate.


Its insulating properties, as well as the fact that it is a non-toxic, relatively light, and non-flammable substance, make magnesium carbonate ideal for high-strength insulation.

This includes shipbuilding, boiler making, and heavy appliances like ovens and dishwashers.

Due to its low water solubility and hygroscopic properties, MgCO3 was first added to salt in 1911 to make it flow more freely.

The Morton Salt company adopted the slogan “When it rains, it pours” because its salt-containing MgCO3 does not stick in a humid climate.

As a matte white coating for projection screens.


Due to its water-absorbing properties, some manufacturers add food-grade magnesium carbonate to salt and flour as an anti-caking agent.

As a food additive, magnesium carbonate is known as E504, for which the only known side effect is that it can function as a laxative in high concentrations.

Magnesium is beneficial in many ways for your body. It is in every cell of your body! Below are some of the main benefits of the mineral known as Mg.


Magnesium carbonate is used as an oral supplement for people with a low amount of Magnesium in their blood, which occurs most often when someone uses diuretics or has lost fluids from diarrhea or vomiting.


Highly pure magnesium carbonate is a common antacid, but in large doses, it also acts as a laxative. Antacids often contain aluminum hydroxide to maintain balance, as it has a constipating effect.

Helps prevent migraines

Suppose migraines are the bane of your existence. In that case, supplementation with magnesium carbonate can help prevent these painful headaches from occurring, according to a study by researchers at the New York Headache Center.

Combats calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPPD)

Calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate disease, also known as Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition and pyrophosphate arthropathy, is a painful rheumatologic condition in which crystals of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate accumulate in connective tissue, especially in the joints.

Researchers from the Bristol Royal Infirmary in England assembled a study group of 38 patients diagnosed with Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition.

Half of the group received 10 ml of magnesium carbonate per day, and the other half received a placebo.

Magnesium helps increase energy levels.

Magnesium works to increase your energy levels by activating adenosine triphosphate (known as “ATP”) in the body.

Adenosine triphosphate is the cell’s energy currency; that is, it is the primary molecule in your body for storing and transferring energy in cells.

Magnesium deficiency leads to less adenosine triphosphate being activated in the body, generating less energy overall. Eat foods rich in Magnesium or take a magnesium supplement to ensure you get your recommended daily intake.

Magnesium helps calm the nerves.

Magnesium is essential for binding and activating the receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps make Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.

Without the right amount of Magnesium, we cannot effectively activate the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. This leads to less Serotonin, which can lead to feelings of stress and a negative mood.

Besides calming the nerves, Magnesium also helps your muscles relax.

Magnesium helps improve sleep quality.

Magnesium helps increase the production of Renin and Melatonin in your body, two crucial hormones that regulate sleep.

On top of that, Magnesium’s calming effects are beneficial in helping your body relax at night. Consider having a magnesium fizzy drink before bed! You can also take a natural sleeping pill that contains Magnesium.

Common signs of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is quite common in the United States; an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in Magnesium, an essential mineral for the body.

This is due to insufficient magnesium levels in the fruits and vegetables that we consume. Getting enough Magnesium from diet alone is not difficult.

Most people can get enough Magnesium without taking supplements through a varied diet with lots of green leafy vegetables.

Below is a list of some common deficiency signs.

  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Sleep problems and fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness or tingling

If a supplement is needed, Magnesium is combined with another substance; there is no such thing as a pure magnesium supplement.

Magnesium carbonate is a popular blend that contains about 45 percent magnesium and possesses powerful antacid properties.

Consuming magnesium carbonate in the small amounts found in food probably won’t cause any side effects, but taking supplements can cause them.

Magnesium carbonate supplements should always be taken with food to minimize the risk of side effects. The tablet should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water.

You should discuss magnesium carbonate supplements with your doctor before taking them, as with any medication.

Harmful effects that can be caused by magnesium carbonate

Magnesium carbonate supplements are not dangerous for most people.

However, there have been reports of undesirable side effects from magnesium carbonate supplementation. These side effects include diarrhea, flatulence, and nausea. It is one of nature’s best laxatives!

The main side effect of Magnesium Carbonate is that it works as a laxative. While most people take Magnesium for its relaxing benefits, it can also be taken for its laxative effect.

A dosage of 500 to 2,000 mg per day is recommended for those struggling with constipation. Start small and then build up until the desired effect is achieved.

Once you have relieved the onset of constipation, return your daily dose to the normal range of 400 mg per day.

In addition to its laxative effect, Magnesium is considered safe to consume (either through food or supplement form).

However, some may experience an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It is always best to consult your doctor before trying a new supplement.

Additionally, magnesium carbonate supplements interact and interfere with diuretics, antibiotics, and osteoporosis medications.

People who are taking any of these medications should first check with their doctor before using magnesium carbonate supplements.

Although it is an essential nutrient for human health, using too many magnesium carbonate supplements can cause magnesium toxicity or an overdose.

Also known as hypermagnesemia, magnesium overdose usually occurs when the kidneys cannot rid the body of excess Magnesium. According to, symptoms of this health condition include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Lethargy.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Sickness.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Urinary retention.
  • Threw up.

Magnesium carbonate supplements have the potential to damage the digestive system. Also, they can be dangerous for people whose kidneys cannot function properly.

However, magnesium overdose is a relatively rare disease in healthy people. Those most at risk for hypermagnesemia are people whose kidneys cannot function properly.

Magnesium carbonate supplements have been linked to gastrointestinal problems and are known to interact negatively with certain medications.

People with kidney failure can overdose on Magnesium when taking magnesium carbonate.

Magnesium carbonate is known to irritate the skin and eyes. In rare cases, very high magnesium levels can cause a condition called paralytic ileus, in which the intestinal muscles become paralyzed, causing a blockage of the intestines.

You should never consume more than 350 milligrams per day of magnesium carbonate. Magnesium toxicity can occur if you take more, and, although rare, this condition can cause the muscles of the intestines to become paralyzed, leading to blockages in the digestive system.

Magnesium toxicity can also increase your risk of heart attacks, vomiting, irregular heartbeats, and dangerously low blood pressure.

Magnesium carbonate can also interact with diuretics, antibiotics, and medications to treat osteoporosis.