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

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. Btryan

    I take chelated Magnesium (online lab brand). I ran out one time and tried the cheap big box store magnesium and got instant diarrhea. I take 3 pills a day 133mg per dose for almost complete cramp relief.

  2. Cynthia D

    I have started taking 800mg a day, .I have been loosing a lot of hair and my finger nail Crack and split. I read this should help, my finger nails seem to be looking better, my hair still thin,and hair llss doesn’t run in my family. I hope this will help. Is that true ?

  3. Robert

    While magnesium is incredibly important to over-all health and necessary for virtually every cell in our bodies, I notice that you list irregular heartbeat and over-all heart health, digestive problems all can stem from not enough magnesium, which is true, but, on the other hand, if one takes too much magnesium the very same symptoms can and do occur. Finding the optimal amount is not so easy, especially as we age. I am having some of the symptoms you describe and I take magnesium, both orally and as an oil I rub on my skin. I think a lot more study has to go into this. I am going to dial back the supplements and start eating more almonds and make sure that I eat a serving or two of spinach, kale, etc. I’m definitely scaling back from between 400 and 500 milligrams of supplements each day.

  4. Patty

    I am 63 years old. I’ve had chronic acid reflux for 18 years. I have been on all types of pump inhibitors, nothing worked, not to mention I lost most of my hair from them. My back doctor put me on 400mg of magnesium oxide for cramping in my legs. Wow, to my surprise the cramping subsided, I am actually having regular bowel movements for the first time in my life and the best… no more acid reflux!! I also sleep better at night! Why wasn’t I prescribed this miracle sooner??

  5. Flo
    St. Helens, Oregon

    I had a very painful Charley Horse in my left foot and leg 1 morning ago. since then, I have had a similar, but less painful pain from my left knee on the inside and up. I have been taking Magnesium, and it brought me out of the Charley Horse. Why am I having similar pain from the knee up? And, how much Magnesium should I be taking morning and night?

  6. Mary

    What happens if you take 500mg of magnesium with Cefadroxil 1000 mg

  7. Vic

    My confusion with magnesium is that when you are advised to take 500mg of Magnesium ..are we talking Elemental Magnesium ?…the Mag Citrate Tabs I take have 930 mg of Mag Citrate…which equates to 150 mg of Elemental Mg …. the instructions on the bottle says take 1 Tablet per day…To get 500 mg of elemental Mg I would have to take 3x….

  8. Thomas G

    I have general anxiety disorider I am on four different medications pregablin sodium valporate quetipine diazapan escitalopram I have being investigating magnesium being good for anxiety so looking at what amounts I can start with and can I take antidepressants with it may be some one on this forum can give me some information

  9. Kenneth A. Nagel

    Hello! 60 year old male with severe chronic neck and back issues. Moderate scoliosis, 6 bulging disc, 1 herniated, DDD, Stenosis, tendonitis in shoulders. Was an auto mechanic for 31 years and in my youth played some sports. I take a low dose pain med and prescribed a muscle relaxer that don’t work at all(stopped it) have ostheoarthritis. I DEAL with 24/7 365 days a year with severe muscle tightness/spasm from my neck,between my shoulders down to my bottom. What brand or dose would be recommended for muscle tightness/spasms, and I don’t sleep well ever. THANK YOU for any advice! I also use cold packs and moist heat every day. THANX!!! KEN.

  10. GOMER
    New York

    My blood pressure was 180/80. Doc put me on meds. It didn’t lower it and I didn’t like the side effects. I started taking 500 mgs of magnesium and 1000 mgs of L arginine for a month …it went down to 140/70. Still a bit high …but improving. I’m also drinking a can of beet juice everyday to get some extra nitrate oxide.

  11. Mary
    Richmond, Va

    Recently I started having leg and feet cramps. Tingling hands and feet. Restless leg syndrome really bad. It seemed to me to be out of the blue. It just wouldn’t go away. I went to the doctor. She told me I probably had low potassium but she will have to check my blood first. The test came back with normal potassium levels. So “thank God” she had the where with all to check my magnesium levels. Which came back low.

    She advised me to start taking magnesium supplements. The cramping, tingling had stopped. I sleep very well since taking it. My blood pressure is starting to come down. I had this before, went to the doctor, never was my magnesium checked, put on potassium pills even when my potassium was normal. Thank God for that Nurse Practitioner who saw my that day when my Physician was out!

  12. PATSY

    I have been diagnosed with idiopathic cerebellar ataxia [cerebellar degeneration of no know cause] which affects balance and muscle control. I also had muscle burning but I read on ataxia forum that magnesium would stop the muscle burning.
    I started taking 500g tablets and the burning stopped. When I ran out of magnesium pills the burning returned.

    I used to take just one in the morning but have tried taking at night as my muscles are very painful on waking. Reading on here that 800g is more than enough, I shall cut out the morning one. It definitely works better for me at night, hasn’t cured my constipation yet despite eating kiwi, banana, orange, pear and few grapes daily.

  13. Tammy​
    Old Washington, Ohio

    I have fibromyalgia and what ever else, nobody knows. I get really bad leg cramps and also in my feet. I take 500 mg of magnesium and it’s not helping. Does anybody have any thing to help me??

    • sd

      Some magnesium types are better absorbed than others. Before giving up change to a (different?) highly absorbable form of magnesium.

    • Beth

      I think it would be worth upping the intake. I have fibromyalgia and insomnia, and taking magnesium seems to have helped both. I’m not sure if the amount I take is recommended, but I take 1000 mg total, split over two doses.

    • T

      Magnesium citrate and carbonate in the product Natural Calm is the only one that’s helped me. I tried several more expensive chelated products but saw no difference. Natural Calm helps me sleep and decreases my whole body muscle pain!

    • Mike

      I think I have found the miracle cure for legs cramps. It is an old Amish remedy and consist of raw apple cider vinegar, juice from the ginger plant and all natural garlic juice. It is the only thing I have found that actually works. I take a shot of it every night before I go to bed and I have not had a cramp sense.

  14. F
    Northern Nevada

    I am a 47 year old female and have been taking vitamin D for a while and noticed a big improvement in mood. I added 500 mg of magnesium a few weeks ago and I HAVE ENERGY AGAIN! I cannot believe the difference this has made for me.

    • Kellu

      What brand and what time of day do you take it? Thanks

  15. Patricia

    I have osteoporosis and have read that magnesium is helpful as it helps the body absorb calcium. What kind of magnesium should I take, how much, and is it better to take it morning or evening?

  16. Siegfried

    I am 73 and take in the morning 1000 mg Magnesium Chloride and to lunch 400 mg
    Magnesium triple Complex ( Oxide, Citrate ,asparate ) .The Chloride will give me NO pain if I have high blood pressure , and no bowel problems but the triple MG is good for bowel.
    Remember each MG works different.
    I also take for 10 years PYCNOGENOL 300mg a day , and was never sick .This is the pill of the
    future what helps for everything ,but you have to stay at least 3 months with that,to feel something. My experience =no more hemorroids ,good sleep and 3 times a week ,
    no joint paint ,slow the stress ,lower eye pressure (5 points ).My Wife just had gastritis and
    took 300mg PYCNOGENOL in the morning and 300 mg at lunch for 3 days and it is almost gone. So I use NO Doctors and feel great .

  17. Donald
    Bend, Oregon

    I have been taking 2000-2100 milligrams of magnesium a day for 15-20 years now and feel great. I go every morning with no problems. I am 79 years old and hike 5 to 10 miles a day on my days off with my dog which is 4 days a week. I know everyone is different, so start out slow and find out what works best for you.

  18. 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.

    • Denise

      I have been taking 2000mg of mag and my severe tingling in my feet have stopped. I wish someone would have told be about mag sooner. I am happy I’ve found it.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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

    • Velta

      Prednisone will cause you leg cramps and dry your bone marrow. My brother now has a form of MS because of it. And I and my sister have FiberMyalgia. Because of too much Prednisone from doctors. The Magnesium will change that. This medicine is dangerous for blood clots and heart attacks , especially in people with Diabetes.

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