bottle of magnesium pills, magnesium to get to sleep, trouble sleeping

It is a truism that we need a well-balanced diet for good health. Ideally, we would routinely be eating the vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes that could provide all our essential vitamins and minerals. But Americans don’t always eat a healthful diet. Should you boost your intake of certain nutrients, for example by taking magnesium supplements?

Do Magnesium Supplements Help the Heart?

Q. I would call magnesium supplements the miracle I was looking for. I had triple bypass surgery at age 40, so I needed all the help I could get. After 13 years, my heart is healthier because of magnesium, with no palpitations, no irregular heartbeat and great blood pressure.

The Power of Magnesium:

A. Magnesium can be very helpful, and many of us don’t get enough in our diets. After all, the primary sources of magnesium are dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards and mustard greens. (Magnesium is an integral part of chlorophyll, the green pigment plants use to convert sunlight into energy.) Some people love these foods, but many eat them rarely if at all.

Other foods that are rich in magnesium are beans, nuts, molasses, whole wheat and fish such as mackerel and halibut. Unless you are a fan of pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, soybeans or quinoa, you too might need magnesium supplements to get your intake to the recommended dietary allowance. In the U.S., this is between 300 and 400 mg per day for most adults.

Are Medications Depleting You of Magnesium?

People taking medicines such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or esomeprazole (Nexium) for heartburn can easily end up with too little of this crucial mineral. The proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) interfere with the absorption of this mineral, as well as calcium and iron.

Other medicines that can reduce magnesium are diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide. These drugs control blood pressure, but they can also make the body kick out potassium and magnesium in the urine. Stronger diuretics such as bumetanide (Bumex) or furosemide (Lasix) can also lead to low magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels are important for maintaining blood pressure at normal levels, so prescribers should keep a close eye on magnesium if they have prescribed one of these medications. Magnesium supplements may be needed.

The Health Benefits of Magnesium:

A recent review of 40 studies including more than 1 million participants found that people who got more magnesium in their diets were less likely to have strokes or heart failure (BMC Medicine, Dec. 8, 2016). Although this analysis did not show that magnesium supplements would reduce the risk of heart attacks, it does suggest that people getting adequate magnesium are less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Scientists have found a connection between magnesium deficiency and depression, although they have not tested whether magnesium supplements can improve mood (Magnesium Research, March 1, 2016). Evidence suggests that magnesium supplements could help against anxiety, especially if it is associated with premenstrual syndrome (Magnesium Research, March 1, 2016).

Who Should Not Take Magnesium Supplements?

People on dialysis and those with compromised kidney function should not take magnesium supplements except under specific doctor’s orders. Supplements could put too much strain on struggling kidneys.

Taking too much magnesium at one time can cause diarrhea.






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  1. Oliver
    Glen Carbon, IL

    People taking metformin may need magnesium supplements.

  2. K.

    Be careful to take the correct magnesium supplement—there are many different formulations. The picture in your news item is of magnesium oxide, which is poorly absorbed and functions as a remedy for constipation. Check out different forms of magnesium: e.g. citrate, taurate, malate, or (my favorite) chelated.

  3. Carl
    New Mexico

    I have also found that taking Chelated Magnesium really helped in reducing my gout attacks. This and Quercetin w/Bromelain has kept my gout attacks at bay for 6 months now without an event. Before I started these two, I was averaging one about twice a month.

  4. Jo

    How much magnesium should a person have?

    • Terry Graedon

      The RDA is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. The Daily Value is 400 mg. That includes magnesium from food such as spinach, black beans, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and other sources.

  5. Sunny

    I am interested in taking magnesium supplements to ease heart palpitations and find there are different kinds of magnesium at the vitamin store. Do you suggest any certain kind?

  6. emma

    I tried several types of Magnesium before I found one that didn’t send me to the bathroom. While magnesium oxide (which I think is most common) didn’t work will for me, magnesium glycinate is fine. So don’t hesitate to try a different formulation, if necessary.

  7. Mona
    Denver NC

    I’ve often wondered how many are walking around with pacemakers and/or taking unnecessary medication..simply because they lack this essential nutrient. Yet as I was so profoundly reminded yesterday during a health exam, doctors do not want to hear of patients and their supplement intake. I was told in a nutshell it was a waste of time and the medicine being prescribed was the only solution. This not being heart related; nevertheless just another reminder of Western medicine and the onslaught of a vicious cycle of health deterioration in this country. God’s pharmacy exist; always has…always will.

  8. Mary

    How much should we take per day.

  9. Judy

    Isn’t the form of magnesium you take important? I’ve read that some forms are more absorbable than others. I used to get diarrhea from taking magnesium oxide, which I think is the most common kind of magnesium supplement. I switched to a “high-absorption” chelated kind which is lower dose but effective and it does not give me diarrhea. (I judge effectiveness by whether It keeps my leg cramps away.)

  10. Tom

    I started using magnesium as a supplement several years ago. I am a 72 y/o runner and cyclist who developed lactic acid build up in my quads and could not get rid of it. I even used a roller on the muscles which had helped in the past. I read that magnesium deficiency can be age related. As soon as I started to take mag supplements, I had no more problem with lactic acid build up.

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