Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for good health. It is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in our bodies and is a key component in our bones.
Magnesium helps to control muscle activity, including that of the heart and in the blood vessels. It is sometimes used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. It is also used to treat a large variety of other conditions, such as anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, leg cramps, diabetes, migraine headaches, weak bones (osteoporosis), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), restless leg syndrome, and asthma.
Although it is relatively easy to get magnesium from your diet, magnesium deficiency is quite prevalent in North America as a result of poor dietary habits. Foods that are high in fiber are usually high in magnesium too; the “average” North American diet tends to be too low in fiber.
Most adult males need about 400 mg of magnesium daily. Adult females need 300-400 mg daily depending on whether or not they are pregnant/lactating. Teenagers and children require varying amounts according to age and stage of development.
Severe magnesium deficiency may result in convulsions, confusion, muscle weakness and abnormal muscle movements (tremors, spasms and even heart arrhythmias).
When taken as a supplement, magnesium can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Magnesium toxicity is usually the result of excess supplementation and can have symptoms such as thirst, low blood pressure, drowsiness, confusion, loss of tendon reflexes, muscle weakness, breathing problems, heart arrhythmias, coma, heart attack, and death.
Magnesium interacts with many drugs, herbs and nutrients, including:
- vitamin D
- certain antibiotics (aminoglycosides such as gentamycin and streptomycin, quinolones such as ciprofloxacin, and tetracylines such as doxycycline)
- osteoporosis medications such as Fosamax, Didronel, Skelid and Actonel
- blood pressure medications such as Adalat, Cardene, Norvasc and others
- “water pills” such as Midamor, Aldactone and others
- antacid medications such as proton pump inhibitors and others
Please consult your ND, MD or pharmacist before taking supplemental magnesium, especially if you take any kind of medication.
Good food sources of magnesium include beans, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). Dairy products, meats, chocolate, and coffee are good sources as well.