Magnesium for Muscle and Joint Aches

Your doctor may prescribe magnesium for muscle pain, which can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium, a mineral, is essential to many functions in the body, including the metabolism, the physical and chemical processes in the body that convert and use energy.

Taking magnesium supplements may ease your aching muscles and joints. Credit: sasimoto/iStock/GettyImages

Magnesium Benefits

Magnesium is essential to many functions in the body, including the physical and chemical processes in the body that convert and use energy. Every organ in the body, especially the heart, muscles and kidneys, needs magnesium.

Magnesium also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. An adult body contains approximately 25 grams magnesium, with 50 to 60 percent being present in the bones, and most of the rest in the soft tissues, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Magnesium naturally occurs in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. It can be added to other food products, is available as a dietary supplement, and is present in some medicines (such as antacids and laxatives).

A September 2015 article in the journal Nutrients notes that many nutritional experts feel that the ideal intake for magnesium should be based on the body weight (e.g., 4 to 6 milligrams per kilogram, per day). The general daily recommended dose is often listed as 400 milligrams.

To maintain healthy magnesium levels, obtain your daily amount through food sources. Choose green leafy vegetables such as spinach, as well as avocados, bananas, tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals, and other fortified foods.

Read More: The Difference Between Magnesium and Manganese

Magnesium for Muscle Pain

Muscle cramps can occur when a muscle is not able to relax properly. If you have exercised excessively, lactic acid can build up in the muscles, causing pain. A magnesium or potassium deficiency of in your diet can also cause muscle pain, with dehydration exacerbating the issue, a Harvard University Health Letter explains.

As the article in Nutrients revealed, magnesium is essential for the regulation of muscular contraction, blood pressure, insulin metabolism, cardiac excitability, vasomotor tone, nerve transmission and neuromuscular conduction. Imbalances in magnesium, usually involving low magnesium or hypomagnesemia, could result in unwanted neuromuscular, cardiac or nervous disorders.

If you are experiencing muscle pain and you suspect it is caused by a lack of magnesium, speak to your doctor. Magnesium deficiency is diagnosed through a blood test, and your doctor may prescribe magnesium supplements if it presents. It may take six months to see results, as magnesium levels are slow to return to normal.

If you prefer not to take supplements but want to add magnesium to your body from non-food sources, you can rub oil of magnesium, or magnesium chloride, onto your skin. Or you can take an Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, bath to ease muscle pain.

Read More: What are the Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium Side Effects

Too much magnesium from one's diet is not typically a health risk, because the kidneys eliminate excess magnesium in the urine. The federal government's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that nutritional needs, including valuable minerals and vitamins, should come primarily from food sources.

If you take magnesium supplements, ingesting high doses of magnesium can have some side effects such as diarrhea with nausea and abdominal cramping. Magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids, when taken in large doses — more than 5,000 mg of magnesium a day — have been associated with magnesium toxicity. These symptoms include hypotension, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing, retention of urine, depression and lethargy, before progressing to muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, extreme hypotension, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

In addition, some medications may not be compatible with magnesium supplements, especially oral bisphosphonates for osteoarthritis and many antibiotics. It's best to speak with your doctor before you take any supplements, especially if you're taking medication.

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