Sandra Justice, P.D., FACA
The mineral magnesium is important for your heart, muscles, and kidneys. It is vital to enzyme activity, giving you energy and helping your body work properly. A deficiency interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses, causing irritability and nervousness. Supplementing the diet with magnesium helps prevent depression, dizziness, muscle weakness, twitching, heart disease, and high blood pressure, and also aids in maintaining the proper pH balance. This essential mineral protects the arterial lining from stress caused by sudden blood pressure changes, and plays a role in the formation of bone and in carbohydrate and mineral metabolism. With vitamin B6, magnesium helps reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate stones.
Certain medical conditions can upset your body’s magnesium balance. For example, intestinal flu with vomiting or diarrhea can cause temporary deficiencies. Long-term deficiencies can be caused by stomach and bowel diseases, diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney malfunction, and diuretics. Consumption of alcohol, the presence of fluoride, and high amounts of zinc and vitamin D all increase the body’s need for magnesium.
Therapeutic Uses of Magnesium
Getting enough magnesium can help you in the following ways:
- Prevent hardening of the arteries
- Prevent strokes and heart attacks
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Correct heart arrhythmias
- Decrease your insulin needs if you have diabetes by improving insulin action and glucose metabolism
- Prevent kidney stones
- Treat Crohn’s disease
- Treat noise-induced hearing loss
- Improve your vision if you have glaucoma
- Reduce cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression, and water retention associated with menstruation.
- Prevent serious complications of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Restore your normal energy level
- Improve your sleep
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Reduce the effects of stress
- Promote wound healing
- Increase bone density in osteoporosis
- Reduce migraine episodes
- Improve urinary incontinence in women
- Decrease activity level in ADHD children with magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is found in most foods, especially dairy products, fish, meat, and seafood. Other rich food sources include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, figs, garlic, kelp, lima beans, millet, nuts, peaches, black-eyed peas, sesame seeds, tofu, tourla, green leafy vegetables, wheat, whole grains, baked potato with skin, whole wheat flour, pumpkin and squash seeds, and bran cereals.
You can also get magnesium from many herbs, spices, and seaweeds (for example, agar seaweed, coriander, dill weed, celery seed, sage, dried mustard, basil, cocoa powder, fennel seed, savory, cumin seed, tarragon, marjoram, and poppy seed).
Magnesium is available in many forms. The best supplements are labeled “soluble”, which means it’s easier for your body to absorb the magnesium it needs. Recommended types of magnesium include the citrate, gluconate, lactate, chloride, and glycinate.
You should take small doses of magnesium throughout the day, with a full glass of water with each dose to avoid diarrhea. These are the recommended daily amounts:
- Adults: 150mg twice daily
- Children: 80- 300mg, depending on age and recommendation of health care provider
- Prophylaxis of migraine headache: 600mg daily of trimagnesium dicitrate
- Reduce PMS symptoms: 200 to 360mg daily
- Improving bone density in osteoporosis: 500-580mg daily
- Urinary incontinence associated with detrusor instability or sensory urgency: 350- 700mg daily (magnesium hydroxide used in studies)
- Treatment of ADHD in children with magnesium deficiency: 200mg daily
- Reducing symptoms of altitude sickness, gradually increasing doses: 450- 1200mg daily (magnesium citrate used in studies)
- Mild to moderate hypertension: 200- 1000mg daily
- Beneficial effects on serum lipid levels: 430mg (magnesium chloride used in studies)
- Reducing pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia: 200-300mg daily (magnesium hydroxide used in studies) with malic acid 800- 1200mg twice daily
- Preventing kidney stones: 200- 300mg daily (magnesium hydroxide used in studies) plus B6 10mg daily
- Improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes: 1000mg daily
Do not take magnesium supplements if you have severe heart disease or kidney disease without consulting your health care provider.
Overuse of milk of magnesia (as a laxative or antacid) can cause you to ingest too much magnesium and could lead to toxicity, especially if you have kidney problems.
Large amounts of fats, cod liver oil, calcium, vitamin D, and protein decrease magnesium absorption. Concomitant administration of magnesium and fluoroquinolones, an antibiotic, decreases the absorption of the fluoroquinolone.
Magnesium salts can interfere with certain laboratory tests. Consult your health care provider.
An Essential Role
Magnesium is vital to proper nerve and muscle function. It plays an essential role in more than 300 fundamental cellular reactions in our body. Make sure your body is getting the magnesium it needs to stay healthy.