Q. I have read that magnesium is an important supplement but I have no idea how much to take. Can one overdose on this element? Is it really as important as calcium?
A. Magnesium is crucial for virtually every cell in the body. This mineral rarely gets the respect it deserves. People are told to get extra calcium, though too much could be problematic.
There is also recognition that potassium is essential, especially for people on blood pressure or heart medicine containing potassium-depleting diuretics. But there are rarely calls for careful monitoring of magnesium levels or recommendations for supplementation.
Magnesium is absolutely essential for bone health and heart function. When magnesium levels drop too low (also a complication of diuretic use), irregular heart rhythms may result. Other conditions that may be related to magnesium deficiency include anxiety and depression, pain, migraines, infertility, preeclampsia, kidney stones, reflux, asthma, constipation, hypertension, insomnia and Raynaud’s syndrome (painful extremities related to cold temperature and lack of adequate circulation).
A safe dose of magnesium ranges from 300 mg to 500 mg. Too much magnesium can lead to loose stools or diarrhea. People with kidney disease must be careful not to take too much magnesium as it may aggravate the condition.
Here are some stories from readers and visitors to this website about the benefits of magnesium:
“I often read about people having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Perhaps my story will help someone.
“My pharmacist recently told me to take my magnesium tablets at bedtime instead of with breakfast. What a shocker to find such a difference in falling asleep. I no longer need to take melatonin or Tylenol PM.”
“I have had a lot of trouble with constipation. I tried Metamucil, but it made things even worse. I tried Citrucel but I’m sensitive to citrus fruits, so I became more bloated.
“Finally a nutritionist suggested I take 800 mg of magnesium daily. This balances my calcium intake.
“After the second day of the magnesium supplements I became “like a normal person.” It has also helped my fibromyalgia. I have read that people with fibromyalgia usually require a higher intake of magnesium. I am no doctor, but I know my own body and the magnesium has made a world of difference.”
800 mg of magnesium may be too much for most people, especially those with reduced kidney function. If you discover you are having to run to the bathroom to avoid an accident, that would be a clear indication that too much magnesium is on board!
“I have gradually withdrawn from diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane) and amitriptyline (Elavil). I had read that magnesium is a natural tranquilizer and have found that taking this mineral is very helpful for my nerves.”
“Many people have horrible leg cramps and cannot take quinine because it has been taken off the market. I am 70 years old and have suffered with leg cramps all my life. Years ago, I used to take OTC quinine tablets, but quinine water (tonic) never worked for me.
“A long time ago I found that 250 mg tablets of magnesium at bedtime worked like a charm in warding off leg cramps and restless leg syndrome.”
If you would like to learn more about the miracle of magnesium for constipation, headaches and migraines, high blood pressure, insomnia, muscle and leg cramps, as well as restless leg syndrome, you may wish to consult our 264 page book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Here is a link to more information.