Should You Be Taking Magnesium Supplements?

Magnesium is a mineral found in a wide variety of foods and vital to human health, along with proving to treat a number of health conditions. But with the mineral being quite ample in the food supply, and very much needed by the body, should you be taking a magnesium supplement?

The Benefits of Magnesium 

Needed by every cell in the body and playing a role in over 300 physiological processes, the benefits of magnesium are significant. Magnesium’s primary roles are to maintain and support muscle via protein synthesis, promote nerve function, control and regulate blood glucose and blood pressure, balance and transport potassium and calcium, and neutralize stomach acid. Increased intakes of magnesium have shown to reduce the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis, along with treating diseases of the heart, anxiety, constipation, indigestion, and other health conditions.

Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is naturally present in a wide variety of foods, particularly ones high in fiber, including whole grains, legumes, leafy greens nuts, seeds, avocadoes, bananas. Other good sources of magnesium include dairy products, meats, chocolate, coffee, and water with a high mineral content. Magnesium is often added to breakfast cereals and other fortified cereals, while also being present in some medications, such as antacids and laxatives, and available as dietary supplements, including magnesium chelate, chloride, citrate, glycinate, and oxide.

Should You Be Taking Magnesium Supplements?

There is great discussion on whether or not you should be taking magnesium supplements, particularly with the innumerable sources and benefits of magnesium. While magnesium deficiency is habitually unelated to inadequate magnesium intake, eating a variety of foods, including at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and consuming plenty of whole grains, can help ensure sufficient magnesium. However, there are instances in which supplementation may be warranted, including the following:

  • Malabsorption disorders, including Crohn’s and celiac diseases.
  • Excessive alcohol intake, particularly coupled with poor dietary intake of nutritious and magnesium-rich foods.
  • Use of proton pump inhibitors, as long-term use can suppress stomach acid, alter stomach pH, and lead to a number of nutritional deficiencies. (Magnesium requires an acidic environment for optimal absorption.)
  • Chronic diuretic usage, as their use increases urinary magnesium loss.
  • Parathyroid diseases that subsequently alter magnesium excretion.
  • Burns, which causes excessive dermal loss of the mineral.

Magnesium Recommendations

Nonetheless, much of research indicates restoring magnesium levels with magnesium-rich foods or supplementation may be an important tool in protecting against a deficiency and preventing a number of chronic diseases. But there are risks that come with taking magnesium, including the following:

Side Effects

Magnesium supplements may cause upset stomach, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. Although rare, some individuals may experience a severe allergic reaction, which needs immediate medical care.


At very high doses, magnesium can buildup in the body and cause nausea, an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, confusion, slowed breathing, coma, and potentially death.

Medication Interactions

There are numerable medications that can interact with magnesium, cause adverse side effects, and decrease their effectiveness, including antibiotics, bisphosphonates, calcium channel blockers, potassium-spacing diuretics, and muscle relaxants.

Certain Populations

Children and women who are breastfeeding and lactating deserves special consideration for magnesium supplementation, along with people with bleeding disorders, diabetes, heart blocks, and kidney problems.

So now you may be wondering, “How much magnesium should I take?” First off, you should always consult with your primary care provider before taking any sort of supplement to ensure their effectiveness and safety, along with measuring blood levels to verify a proper dosage recommendation. But according to WebMD, doses less than 350 milligrams daily are safe for most adults. You should also contact your primary care provider if you experience any symptoms of low magnesium, including generalized fatigue and low energy, muscle cramps and twitches, and changes in mental status.