bottle of magnesium pills

We do not understand why magnesium does not get the respect it deserves. Physicians have been recommending extra calcium for decades but magnesium is often a step child. We think health professionals got this mineral thing reversed. People should get most of their calcium from food. It can be challenging to get enough magnesium from the diet, though. When was the last time you had your magnesium levels measured?

This reader asks a fundamental question:

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 frequently advised to get extra calcium, though too much could be problematic.

Doctors also recognize that potassium is essential, especially for people on blood pressure or heart medicine containing potassium-depleting diuretics. They should monitor potassium levels regularly when patients are on drugs such as HCTZ or furosemide. But physicians don’t always plan to monitor of magnesium levels or recommend supplementation, although the same diuretics that affect potassium can also have an major impact on magnesium.

Magnesium is absolutely essential for bone health and heart function. When magnesium levels drop too low, 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).

So What Is the Right Magnesium Dose?

A safe magnesium dose ranges from 300 mg to 500 mg. Too much magnesium can lead to loose stools or diarrhea. If you find yourself running to the bathroom to prevent an accident you could well be getting too much magnesium. People with kidney disease must be careful not to take too much magnesium as it may aggravate the condition. It is important to have periodic blood tests to monitor magnesium levels in the body.

Here are some stories from readers and visitors to this website about the benefits of magnesium:

Magnesium for insomnia:

“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.”

Magnesium for constipation:

“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 a magnesium dose of 800 mg 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 several loose stools a day, that could be a clear indication that you are getting too much of a magnesium dose!

Magnesium for “nerves”:

 “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.”

Magnesium for leg cramps:

 “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.”

Magnesium for high blood pressure:

“I have had high blood pressure in spite of taking losartan for some years and lisinipril for many years before that. Recently I started taking a magnesium citrate tablet in the hope that it would help my insomnia. I think it has helped me sleep better but it has definitely helped my blood pressure.

“I did some online research and learned there are quite a few prescription meds that can rob the body of magnesium. I also learned that a standard blood test does not accurately register a magnesium deficiency. I highly suspect that my blood pressure medications were affecting my levels and now I am benefiting from compensating for that.”

Learn More About Magnesium for What Ails You:

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.

Revised by Joe Graedon on 11/10/16

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  1. Jen

    I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. I have been on the same meds since 1999. Anyway, lately I have been so anxious and panicky and wondering why my meds weren’t working. I had a BPPV episode (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) which was super-scary but I do the Epley Maneuver, and I’m great again. I decided to look at deficiencies and realized I have a magnesium deficiency because I eat many things with mag in them. I also had so much trouble falling asleep, leg and body cramping. Honestly, everything is right as rain, I took 500mg magnesium with fit D, and I slept like a baby. The cramps stopped, and anxiety went away. I am so thankful I found this site. Not many people are told about this and are just given more rx’s. Thanks.

  2. evelyn

    I am 58 yearl old female. I was diagnosed with cll, so how much magnesium should I take?

    Yes, I also have problem falling asleep. Would that help me fall asleep? thank you

  3. Eliza

    For Constipation:

    I have fibromyalgia with degenerative disc disease and severe IBS. I take 680 mg of magnesium daily in order to force waste out of my body (it won’t go otherwise). Sometimes it’s not enough. I’ve used buffered vitamin C powder in the past, but it is harsh and drains me of energy.

  4. Felicity

    A question: are all forms of magnesiums equal? Mine is magnesium oxide and mag gluconate.

    • Sharon

      Maybe aloe vera could help you with constipation. Whenever I take abt 60ml of aloe gel on an empty stomach, I would start my bowel toilet biz in the next 1-2hr. Hence, I never had constipation problem since. Aloe gel is good for ibs as well, mayb u want to try with 30ml first on empty stomach. Make sure u buy good quality aloe gel with no skin included. 680mg of magnesium maybe too high though.

  5. Beth

    I lost 18″ of my colon when I was 72 years old due to diverticulosis. I found certain foods gave me problems, and I had to cut back on the quantity I ate of certain things. Gas was a problem. I also had problems with constipation, so I had to try things to eliminate that. I started to take extra magnesium (300 cut in 1/2), but even that causes many bowel movements in a day or two. I take a multiple vitamin daily.

    I have osteoporosis, and am a 23 year breast cancer survivor. I also have osteoarthritis. I am wondering if I wasn’t getting enough magnesium growing up or even as a young adult.

    I would like to find something that works for the constipation, but have tried a number of things, so I take 1/4 of the magnesium pill and it helps. But I don’t take it daily.

  6. Ruth
    North Carolina

    Excellent article. routine labs for magnesium level is between 1.3-2.1 for adults. Request your PCP order RBC magnesium for more accurate results

  7. Sherry

    Comment on Drs vs. advice found on this website: I have much greater success with the advice found on this website than dealing with doctors. Remember: not all doctors graduate at the top of their class, pharmaceutical companies have great influence with doctors to prescribe manufactured medicines over common ingredients, many doctors haven’t extended their knowledge past their initial training (and a broken arm is so much easier to diagnose than what is causing a stomach ache) and we aren’t all made the same. Each person needs to find out what works best for them. Example: I have celiac disease, it wasn’t diagnosed by a doctor although I repeatedly went to them for problems relating to it. I take large doses of Vitamin D because tests show I only have a normal level in my body. If I take the typical dose, my Vit D gets too low. I also live in the NW where there isn’t much sun. I take vitamins from only one company because the fillers in other cheaper vitamin makers cause me digestive problems. I also take a fairly large amount of Magnesium because when I don’t I have pain in my left thumb where I accidently sliced some nerves 20 years ago. All experiments on what works best for my body but probably not for others.

  8. Terri C

    If you are taking 500 mg of magnesium and having problems with diarrhea you are just taking too much. I find 250 seems to work best for me. I take 1 am and one pm and always with food. Even just a small snack…crackers or something. I have been doing this for years and it works well.

  9. PattyPR

    different forms of Magnesium work for different ailments. My husband has a history of kidney stones. If he takes at least 400 mg Magnesium OXIDE and 30 mg vitamin B6 daily, he does not get stones. Stones are caused by different sources/compounds but for many this remedy works well. If he goes for 6 months without taking it, he will always get stones.

    I am on chronic pain therapy with Hydrocodone and though Milk of Magnesia was working to keep my digestive system moving, I started having terrible muscles cramps all over while taking Lisinipril (for blood pressure) and Prednisone (a steroid for hives) at the same time. My primary care told me that Magnesium Glycinate would stop the muscle cramps and it has. It also keeps my digestive system working well. 400 mg at night means no cramps and digestive system regular in AM. If I take another 400 Mg 12 hours later, it may provide too much of a laxative effect.

  10. Pete

    I am 62 and I suffer from constipation. I read somewhere that magnesium causes loose bowels so I decided to take 400mg at bedtime. It made my bowels NORMAL. I thought I came up with the idea.

    • Sally

      Pete, Too much Vitamin B6 can cause neuropathy. I know because I have it! B6 can be toxic! Sally

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