Are you getting enough magnesium in your diet? “Magnesium plays several important roles in your body, and we need to get enough of this mineral nutrient to live a healthy life,” says Dr. Noorhan Nassar, primary care physician at Houston Methodist. “Magnesium regulates the function of hundreds of enzymes, acts as an important electrolyte, and helps your body make protein. It also works closely with another essential mineral, calcium.” While magnesium is clearly necessary for good health, it is possible to take too much. Here’s what happens when you take magnesium every day, according to experts. Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.
Always consult your doctor before you start taking supplements containing magnesium, as they may cause unexpected problems. “Magnesium in supplements may interact with certain types of antibiotics and other medications,” says Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD. “Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are considering taking magnesium supplements, especially if you regularly use antacids or laxatives containing magnesium.”
Taking too much magnesium (the recommended daily amount is 400 mg or less) can cause serious kidney problems, doctors warn. “Certain medical conditions, such as kidney problems, can increase the risk of magnesium buildup and toxicity,” warns Dr. Nassar. “And magnesium can decrease the absorption of certain medications and interact with others…The take-home message I would share is that most people generally get enough magnesium from healthy eating.”
According to experts, people who take magnesium for high blood pressure may be mistaken about the effectiveness of the supplements. “The data shows that the effects of magnesium on blood pressure are minimal and insignificant. No one should rely on magnesium supplements to lower blood pressure,” says Dawn Gerber, PharmD. Here’s what Gerber recommends looking for when choosing a supplement:
- USP verification mark
- Quality approved by the consumer laboratory
- The NSF Mark
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
Taking too much magnesium can have a laxative effect, causing gastrointestinal problems. “Too much magnesium from food is not a problem for healthy adults. However, the same cannot be said for supplements. Large doses of magnesium from supplements or medications can cause nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea,” said Zeratsky.
Experts recommend getting magnesium from food rather than supplements. “The best way to meet needs is to eat a variety of foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products,” says dietitian Cristy Dean. “If you are concerned about your magnesium levels or suspect a deficiency, speak to a healthcare professional about supplementation. Magnesium naturally found in foods is not harmful and does not need to be limited as our body has a way of getting rid of any excess via the kidneys… However, supplementation can be harmful if taken at the wrong dose.
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer passionate about making science and research-based information accessible to the general public. Learn more about Ferozan