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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
As calcium sales continue to slip and magnesium sales continue to rise, at least one expert believes the day will come when magnesium overtakes calcium as the bestselling standalone mineral supplement.
Calcium and magnesium are the two top-selling minerals in the supplements category. For now, calcium far outsells magnesium, a fact confirmed by market researchers like SPINS and Euromonitor. However, with calcium sales continuing to slip and magnesium sales continuing to rise, at least one expert believes the day will come when magnesium eclipses calcium as the bestselling standalone mineral supplement.
“Although calcium continues to be the best-performing mineral around, with around 40% of the market, magnesium’s growth rate projects that it will overtake calcium’s position as the largest-selling mineral by the year 2020,” says Todd Johnson, senior director of marketing, human nutrition and pharma, for minerals supplier Balchem/Albion Minerals (Clearfield, UT), citing Nutrition Business Journal estimates.
SPINS also corroborates reports of calcium’s decline, with the market researcher’s data showing a 6.7% sales loss for calcium in the U.S. last year, to $191 million. By contrast, during that same time period, magnesium sales grew 11.1% to $92 million.
What’s driving continued interest in magnesium? “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the critical role magnesium plays,” Johnson says. “Magnesium is involved in nearly every metabolic and biochemical process within the cell. Research studies have shown that magnesium supports bone health, energy production, cardiovascular health, the immune system, glucose metabolism, and healthy mood and emotions.”
According to Johnson, there is notable interested especially in magnesium’s ability to support brain health and emotional wellness. He points to recent studies on magnesium’s role in depression ; mood, emotions, and stress ; and emotional disorders .
Given the general population’s deficiency in magnesium, there is a need for supplementation. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts.”  As consumer awareness of magnesium grows, so will magnesium-supplement sales, and magnesium may finally rise to the top spot among minerals, Johnson says. “I believe magnesium will become the master of the mineral market in the next few years, surpassing all others," he says.
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 Sales numbers courtesy of SPINS, covering the 52 weeks ending November 27, 2016, in all three channels: multi-outlet, natural, and gourmet specialty.
 Serefko A et al., “Magnesium in depression,” Pharmacological Reports, vol. 65 (2013): 547-554
 Sartori SB et al., “Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment,” Neuropharmacology, vol. 62, no. 1 (January 2012): 304-312
 Eby GA 3rd et al., “Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis,” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 74, no. 4 (April 2010): 659-660