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How Much Magnesium Is Enough?

Getting the optimal magnesium dose every day can be tricky since too little is very dangerous but too much can cause unpleasant GI symptoms.
How Much Magnesium Is Enough?

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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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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