This articles explains all you should know about magnesium supplements, the benefits, side effects, types of magnesium supplements and how to take them properly.
Over the years, some questions have been asked about the use of magnesium supplements, the first part of this article would use a QnA approach to answer those questions. As such this section serves as a summary for the entire content of the article, if you’re in a hurry to get the details, then reading this section of the article alone would be enough.
Do Magnesium Supplements Work?
Yes, they do! At least a good fraction of the magnesium supplements in the market works in one capacity or the other.
About 80% of Americans are suffering from magnesium deficiency, it’s deficiency is currently listed as a potential risk factors for American citizens by the World Health Organization.
What this implies is that, a larger percentage of Americans are prone to the disease associated with the deficiency of Magnesium.
To think Americans are prone to various forms of disease through the deficiency of a mineral substituent (magnesium) that isn’t as expensive as what we spend on health insurance and other luxury is somewhat confusing.
Magnesium is a very important component of our body system, it plays vital roles in the synthesis of various hormones, and complex initiation of various functions in the body system, take for instance how your heart pump blood to various part of the body, or how your body produce enough energy from the food you’ve eaten.
In the literal sense of it, Magnesium is one of the unsung heroes that keeps your body up and running all the time, and we all know what happens when unsung heroes are eliminated. The whole system suffers their absence.
What this implies is that, when you suffer magnesium deficiency, every bit of your body system would suffer for it, starting from your nervous system, to your respiratory system, digestive system, muscular system etc…
The importance of magnesium sufficiency in the body system can really not be overemphasized. But sadly, a larger percentage of us are not getting enough of it… This isn’t because we are not eating the right food, the deficiency of Magnesium in Americans has been linked to the deficiency of the element in our soil.
Over the years, it’s been shown that, American soil has lost a large percentage of it’s Magnesium component, due to modern mass farming and other chemical used in processing our soil for improved crop production.
Adding salt to injury, Americans consume a lot of processed food, and these processed food have little magnesium component in them.
All these factors coupled are legitimate explanation to American susceptibility to various diseases.
If magnesium is really this important, then it is equally important that we gain it from somewhere else, if we can’t get enough from the food we eat on daily basis, and this is where magnesium supplements comes into play.
What are Magnesium Supplements?
In simplest of terms, they are artificially synthesized magnesium.
In the earlier part of the article, I wrote about how our soil lack magnesium and how our canned food has little composition of magnesium, this points to the fact that, if everything were to be in order, we should normally get the required amount of magnesium we need from the food we eat naturally.
Although there are trace amount of magnesium is some of the food we eat, fresh vegetables, nuts and other magnesium containing food (which would be discussed much later).
There is a need for magnesium supplements if an average American would take the required daily dosage of Magnesium in other to stay healthy without being prone to the disease and disorders associated with magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium supplements usually comes in the form of tablets, like the normal prescribed medication we get in the hospital, they come in various mg depending on the producing company, and they’re relatively cheap.
Having magnesium supplements within your reach means you don’t have to worry about whether you’re prone to its deficiency or not, because when you take the daily required dose of magnesium, you’re good to go about your regular activities, without worrying whether your diet contains enough magnesium or not.
What Do Magnesium Supplements do?
Although a section of this article is dedicated to the functions and benefits of magnesium supplements, I consider it necessary to write about few of magnesium functions here and would go into details at the appropriate section of the article.
Magnesium acts as co-enzymes (co-factor):
The body is made up of numerous complex biochemical process that result into various biochemical activities in the body.
Take for instance, when you eat, you digestive system know that the next thing to do is to breakdown the food into semi-liquid form, then later into liquid form to make it absorbable in the body.
Naturally, these food won’t breakdown on their own, unless they’re acted upon by the body chemicals called enzymes.
These enzymes basically function in various systems of the body to elicit metabolism of compounds, synthesis of hormones and elimination of unwanted materials from the body. The catch however, is that these enzymes does not work alone, they require the help of co-enzymes and cofactors like Magnesium (amidst others) to perform their action.
What this means is that, when the co-factor is deficient, it directly affects the activities of the enzymes. As at the time of writing this article, Magnesium currently serves as co-factor in over 300 enzymatic reaction in the body, and it is believed that there are hundreds more of such enzymatic reaction yet to be discovered.
Magnesium plays a role in nerve impulse:
The nervous system mainly controls the body system, and the principal component of the nervous system is the brain, spinal cord and the nerves. The nerves are like cable wires from various part of the body back to the brain.
Instead of having a very long wire, from let us say the tip of your finger to the brain (which would be ridiculously long), we have bunch of short wires, joined together, you can liken this connection to the electric pole on the street.
These wires (nerves cell) transmits impulses between each other through the nerve ending. There is a very small gap between each of the nerve, which impulse has to cross to get to the next nerve…
Magnesium plays a very crucial role in the transmission of this impulse from one nerve cell to the other…
…So when there is deficiency of magnesium, there is every tendency that passage of information from one nerve to another is delayed, this usually results into poor reflex in cases of the muscular system.
Magnesium plays a role in detoxification, bone formation, temperature regulation and other important process necessary for body balance (homeostasis)…
What magnesium supplements does is to fulfill role of magnesium when they can’t be sourced in our diet. Instead of suffering from the disorder associated with the lack of magnesium, magnesium supplements would take over the responsibility of magnesium and cover up for the lack of magnesium in the diet.
Do you need Magnesium Supplements?
Chances are; you do! As long as you’re not getting enough of it in your regular diet. And as it is right now, a larger percentage of us are not getting enough of magnesium from our regular diet.
This calls for a need of magnesium supplement.
You do not have to wait before the lack of magnesium take its toll on your body before you start taking magnesium supplements.
Although, everybody needs a sufficient dosage of magnesium, some people do need it in excess that others, which brings us to the nest question…
Should you be taking Magnesium Supplements?
- Yes, If you suffer from muscle cramps or muscle weakness frequently.
- You should be taking magnesium supplements if you suffer from insomnia with no just cause.
- If you get frequent sugar craving.
- If you’re always restless.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney stone.
Those are few of the symptoms associated with deficiency of magnesium in the body.
Not all appearance of these symptoms is a result of magnesium deficiency and you should consult your doctor if the symptoms persist.
Who should take magnesium supplements?
Frankly, roughly all Americans should be taking magnesium supplements. Although not all Americans are suffering from the deficiency of magnesium, however, a high percentage of our population is suffering from the deficiency of magnesium and you never know until the symptoms start presenting itself.
Athletes, bodybuilders, and those that are generally into fitness needs more Magnesium than regular people. The reason for this being that, the use up energy more than the regular individual, and magnesium is very important in the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphospate).
Children should also take magnesium in the appropriate dosage, this is to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and improve bone and teeth development.
Magnesium Supplements Benefit:
There is really no point in spending money on what would not benefit you either in the short run or long run. Obviously, magnesium supplements isn’t one of those things that would not benefit you.
If it has no benefit, then the World Health Organization would not deem it fit to rate it’s deficiency as a risk factor.
This section will highlight the health benefits of magnesium supplements.
#1. Healthy Heart:
In this study, 68 people with cases of heart failure, 38% of the patient showed low level of magnesium, while 72% had excess magnesium in their urine.
The largest percentage of the magnesium composition of the body is found in the heart. This isn’t a coincidence as magnesium plays a very important role alongside calcium in the maintenance of the blood pressure.
In another clinical trial to examine the importance of magnesium supplements in cases of congestive heart failure, patients suffering from severe congestive heart failure that received high dosage of magnesium orotate (about 6000mg per day for a month) had 76% survival rate as compared to those that did not receive the supplement.
In the research, it was concluded that magnesium orotate (a type of magnesium supplement) may be used as adjuvant therapy in patient undergoing treatment for congestive heart failure.
According to this article, reviewed by Dr. Vogin; some of the benefits of magnesium on the heart and corresponding circulatory vessels includes; protection of the heart from exercise stress, vasodilation of the blood vessels when more blood is needed and longer exercise periods for those with heart disease.
#2. Healthy Lungs:
Magnesium is being used in treatment of various lungs diseases, such as asthma, pulmonary hypertension, allergies, etc… Magnesium helps in the relaxation of the bronchioles of the lungs, thus resulting into free passage of the air, in and out of the lungs. Low dietary magnesium has been linked to incidence and progression of asthma.
This benefit of magnesium is particularly important to asthmatic patients, because broncho-constriction has been linked to frequent asthmatic episodes in people suffering from asthma. So if you’re suffering from asthma, it’s a good thing to have magnesium supplements within your reach.
In this particular study, carried out by Dr. Kazaks of Bastyr University in Washington, to check whether magnesium can improve the lung function, fifty-five (55) asthmatic patients were used for the study, some group got 340mg of Magnesium daily for about 7 months, while some were given placebo.
At the end of the study, it was shown that there was a six (6) percent improved lung functioning in those that were taking the Magnesium, and about 20% methacholine is needed to induce bronchoconstriction (What causes asthmatic episodes in asthma patient) in those that took magnesium. That this means is that, those that took magnesium were less prone to asthmatic episodes as compared to those on the placebo.
The body has a wide range of chemical that function as an antioxidant. The main role of these endogenous compounds is to get rid of free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress.
The endogenous compounds are synthesized by some enzymes, and this is where the function of magnesium comes in. Magnesium functions by increasing the activity of gluthathione enzyme (GPx), The GPx enzyme functions by increasing the rate at which free radicals (that causes oxidative stress) is mopped up from the cell.
Read more about the antioxidant role of magnesium here, and also about its function as co-factor.
#4. Weight Loss:
If you’re trying to lose some weight, then getting magnesium supplements is a good way to go. Magnesium is known to play an important role in the digestion and absorption of food.
When magnesium is deficient in the body, it becomes difficult for the gastrointestinal tract to absorb the ingested food efficient, which means little energy and nutrient is supplied to the body.
As a result, you crave for more food even though you’re not getting enough from the ones you’re taking.
Magnesium plays a direct role in the synthesis of enzymes that controls food craving. According to this study, magnesium has been linked directly with insulin function, and it’s deficient directly affects the metabolism of carbohydrate in the body, resulting into excessive sugar in the blood stream and subsequently leading to diabetes and fat storage.
#5. Stress Elimination:
Magnesium is nicknames “The chill pill” because of its role in stress elimination. This research shows the importance of magnesium in recovery from depression. Read about clinical studies and analysis of magnesium as a stress eliminating substance here.
#6. Constipation Relief:
According to this study, it has been shown that constipation is associated with low intake of magnesium and low intake of water from food. So if you suffer from constipation, getting a magnesium supplement might be a good decision.
In cases of mothers with the risk of pre-term birth, it has been shown that administration of magnesium is very effect to prevent pre-term birth. Another parallel study shows that, magnesium sulphate also help in the neuroprotection of the fetus.
The study shows that the administration of magnesium greatly reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in their child.
Magnesium is used in treatment of various disease that has to do with muscle relaxation; such as seizure prevention, arrhythmia, and asthma. It’s also being considered for use as a supporting element for anesthetic agent according to this study.
#8. Lessen Pre-Menstrual Symptoms:
Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to pre-menstrual migraine. In this study, 20 subjects with menstrual migraine were evaluated, and were treated with 350mg of magnesium on daily basis, consequently for two months.
According to the result of the research, it was concluded that, a lower migraine threshold might be due to low level of magnesium, it also suggested magnesium supplementation as a further means of menstrual migraine prophylaxis.
#9. Stronger Bone:
Have you ever heard the word osteoporosis? It’s a pretty common disease of the bone. Just as the name implies, this disease manifest itself on patient bone by “eating” away the good part of their bones, thus bone loose density and becomes porous and lighter (in weight).
Osteoporosis is often seen in aged people, and the lack of magnesium (depletion of magnesium in the bone component) has been associated with this disease.
Magnesium has been implicated in the active transport of calcium and as a result of this, it’s deficiency would indirectly affect the transport of calcium across the bony component of the body and as a result affect the bone health.
This review analyzed about 7 different studies, over 1,000 post-menuposal women from 12 case-control studies were analyzed. It was concluded that postmenopausal osteoporotic women had lower level of serum magnesium than healthy controls.
This indicates the importance of magnesium in forming stronger bones.
#10. Stronger Teeth:
The general knowledge is that, calcium and phosphorus are the major element necessary for stronger teeth enamel. This is why dentist would routinely advice patient to take more mile to avoid tooth decay. Recent studies have however shown that those elements taken without increased intake of magnesium would only give the patient “soft enamel” which is susceptible to decay in the long run.
Studies have also shown that a high intake of calcium and phosphorus in the body should be complemented with an increased magnesium intake.
Check out this page dedicated to the analysis of various research as regards to its importance in getting a stronger teeth. The page contains information about some studies of how resident of Deaf Smith county in Texas, have about double the amount of magnesium in their body system and how they ultimately record low teeth cavity issues and quick bone injury recovery.
#11. Headache and Migraine Relief:
Migraine and other severe forms of headache has been associated with the deficiency or low level of magnesium. It has been shown, according to this study and several others, that those suffering from migraine usually have low level of magnesium in their brain during attack episodes. In this review paper, about eleven previous research work on intravenous administration of magnesium for headache treatment was analyzed.
The review concluded that intravenous magnesium attacks and alleviate severe migraine in less than 20minutes, while oral magnesium intake completely alleviate the symptom in 24hours.
It therefore suggest that intravenous and oral administration of magnesium should be adapted as part of multimodal approach to reduced migraine.
In collaboration to the studies previously referenced, this study shows that, infusion of magnesium in patient suffering from severe migraine results into rapid and sustained relief of acute migraine.
So those that suffer frequent migraine and headache, even after getting the required rest, it might be of help to increase your magnesium intake through the use of magnesium supplements.
#12. Pre-Term Labor:
Magnesium has been shown to stop contraction of the uterus in cases of pre-term labour in pregnant women. It has also been show to serve neuroprotective function in the fetus, and also reduces the risk of cerebral palsy. This study, this study and this study supports the effectiveness of magnesium as a way of reducing risk of preterm labour.
#13. Decrease Colon Cancer Risk:
Epidemiologic studies have shown that low magnesium intake is often associated with colorectal cancer as well as other magnesium deficiency disease.
According to a study conducted in Japan, it was shown that increased in-take of Magnesium in males, greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50%. About 87,000 subjects were involved in the study, and it was done for a period of eight years with regular follow-up.
The study shows that, the increased level of magnesium in-take has no significant effect on the female subject.
Another study in Imperial College London, corroborate the finds that colon cancer can be greatly reduced by increasing in-take of magnesium. The study proved that, for every 100mg increase in magnesium consumption, there is a whopping 13% decrease in the risk of colon cancer.
Types of Magnesium Supplements:
These are various types of magnesium supplements available in the market. Most supplements are made up of magnesium chelated with other substance such as salt or amino acid. Reason for this chelation is to increase the rate of absorption of magnesium into the body system.
The good magnesium supplements are the ones with high elemental composition of magnesium and low stability constant.
Magnesium Oxide Supplements:
This is the most common form of magnesium supplements. They’re cheap and are said to contain the highest amount of magnesium. However, the magnesium present in this form are not easily absorbed into the body system, with only 4% being absorb. What this means is that, if you take, let’s say you took 400mg of magnesium oxide, with just 4% of magnesium being absorbed, only 16mg of magnesium stays in your body.
In other words, you’re still prone to deficiency because you’re not getting enough due to poor absorption rate of magnesium oxide. The reason for it’s poor absorption is it’s high stability constant, making it difficult dissolve and get absorbed into the body.
Magnesium Citrate Supplements:
It has a low elemental percentage of magnesium, but a reasonably high absorption rate. About 16% is bioavailable when ingested. It’s typically used to initiate bowel movement due to its characteristic feature of attracting water from the body tissue, thus initiating defecation.
Amino Acid Magnesium Chelates Supplements:
As at the time of writing this, it is considered the most effective form of magnesium supplement, mainly because of it’s ability to penetrate cell membrane and delivery magnesium ion into the cell directly.
Magnesium orotate supplement is typically example of amino acid magnesium chelate, it is made up of magnesium combined with salts of orotic acid. Other types of magnesium chelate includes; magnesium glycinate, magnesium lysinate, and magnesium taurate.
Magnesium Chloride Supplements:
With 12% magnesium component, it’s considered to be the most absorbable form of magnesium because of it’s zero stability constant. What this infer is that, magnesium chloride supplements are readily available for absorption into the body system as they are easily dissolved as compared to other forms of magnesium supplements.
Magnesium Sulphate Supplements:
This form of magnesium supplement is mostly administered intravenously. It’s commonly called Epsom salt. The bioavailability is low as compared to other common supplements.
Magnesium Carbonate Supplements:
The percentage of magnesium present in this supplement is about 35-40%, making it one of the supplements with high elemental composition of magnesium.
The bioavailability of the magnesium component varies greatly, depending upon the PH in the stomach, it’s been shown to be up to 30%.
Magnesium carbonate react with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to for magnesium chloride which is readily absorbed into the body system.
Magnesium Ascorbate Supplements:
It’s made up of vitamin C and magnesium. Moderately absorbable into the body system.
Magnesium Hydroxide Supplements:
It has a high percentage of magnesium composition, but poor absorption into the body system.
Taking Magnesium Supplements:
Now that you know the benefits of magnesium supplements and types of magnesium supplements, it’s equally important to know about taking them. The fact that it is an extremely important element does not mean you should go on and consume it anyhow.
In this section of the article, I would talk about magnesium supplements dosage based on the recommended dietary allowance, I would as well talk about how to take magnesium supplements, and best way to take magnesium supplements.
When taking magnesium supplements, the most important thing to look out for is the bioavailability of the magnesium in the supplement form you’re taking. Because magnesium is not easily absorbed into the body system, most supplements manufacturers have created a “vehicle” for it’s transportation. What this means is that, magnesium is often chelated with either salt or amino acid for easy absorption.
The percentage of magnesium you get from supplements now depends on it’s bioavailabilty based on the type of magnesium supplement you’re taking.
First, let’s check the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium:
Children (80mg to 240mg) Teenagers (240mg to 410mg) Adult (400 to 420mg), check here for the complete data table. This will go a long way in giving you idea as regards that appropriate magnesium supplements dosage that you need. This WebMD page gives a complete breakdown of magnesium dosage based on condition being treated.
What are the best ways to take magnesium supplements?
There are three major ways of taking magnesium supplements. You can either take it orally, topically or intravenously. For home usage, oral intake and topical application of magnesium supplement is the best way as they’re considered safe and easy to administer.
It all boils down to your choice. Although there are speculations that topically administered magnesium supplements are greatly absorbed as compared to orally administered supplements. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim.
Best forms of magnesium supplements:
The best form of magnesium supplement are the ones with high elemental composition of magnesium and great bioavailability. Over the years, chelated magnesium supplements has been shown to fit right into this description.
Magnesium Supplements Side effects:
Generally, magnesium supplements are considered safe, when the appropriate dose is taken (Check the dosage link above). However, there are conditions that may render the usage of magnesium unsafe. Especially in cases of people with kidney problem.
It’s advisable to stay away from the use of magnesium supplements if you have kidney disease, reason being that, the kidney is responsible for elimination of excess magnesium from the body. And if the kidney isn’t function properly, there would be accumulation of magnesium in the body system.
Accumulation of magnesium may result into stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.