Magnesium is vital to the proper regulation of many diverse biochemical reactions in your body. If you have a deficiency, you may need to take magnesium supplements.
Although allergic reactions to dietary supplements are rare, you may experience a reaction or side effects if you take too much.
Magnesium Benefits to Your Body
An enabler of healthy enzyme function, magnesium is needed by your body to produce energy from the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats in the food you eat, according to Linus Pauling Institute. Magnesium is important for transporting minerals, such as potassium and calcium, that create the balanced symphony of nutrients which help muscles and nerves function efficiently, and maintain heart rhythm.
Your bones need magnesium to maintain the structure and integrity of your skeletal system. Magnesium also has neurological functions and may help stabilize mood, treat migraine and alleviate depression, according to data reported in a review published in Nutrients in June 2018.
This meta-analysis suggested that restoring the balance of magnesium in patients with depression may be associated with anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects. In addition, the authors reported a possible positive effect from magnesium for chronic pain and improving post-stroke outcome, but only inasmuch as it suggests more research to confirm these findings.
Your Magnesium Requirements
Getting enough magnesium from your diet, or from supplements, is essential to your health. But it's important to know just how much you need on a daily basis. The National Institutes of Health has established recommended dosages that are required for optimal health, dependent upon your age and gender. These amounts are:
- Children: ages 9 to 13 years – 240 milligrams
- Teens: ages 14 to 18 years – 410 milligrams for males; 360 milligrams for females
- Adults: ages 19 to 30 years – 400 milligrams for males; 310 milligrams for females
- Adults: ages 31 and older – 420 milligrams for males; 320 milligrams for females
- Pregnant and lactating women: 310 to 400 milligrams
The body does not produce magnesium, but you can easily get the required amount of magnesium from many foods. Dark green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, beans and whole grains are among the best choices. Generally, high-fiber foods provide the most magnesium.
Read More: How Soon Do You Feel the Benefits of Magnesium?
Magnesium is also added to fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals. In addition, water can be a source of magnesium.
Do You Need Magnesium Supplements?
Magnesium deficiency is uncommon in healthy people, because the kidneys limit urinary excretion of the mineral. However, certain health conditions that inhibit the absorption of nutrients may cause excessive loss of magnesium, such as chronic alcoholism and the use of certain medications, according to the NIH. Gastrointestinal disorders, long-term use of diuretics, and conditions such as diabetes mellitus, as well as malnutrition, can deplete your body of magnesium, according to Linus Pauling.
If you have a low level of magnesium in your blood, you may be at risk for a condition called hypomagnesemia. According to MedlinePlus, common symptoms may include:
- Abnormal eye movements
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Muscle weakness
To correct a deficiency, magnesium supplements are often prescribed to bring your levels back to normal. Some forms of magnesium supplements include those made from the salts of carbonate, chloride, gluconate and oxide, according to NIH. They are sold over-the-counter as individual supplements, included in multivitamins, or found in medications like antacids and laxatives.
Read More: What Are the Benefits of Liquid Magnesium?
Magnesium can be taken as an oral tablet, a chewable tablet, a gel cap, an oral liquid drop, or a topical application.
Side Effects and Allergic Reactions
You cannot overdose on magnesium from the foods you eat, but if you take too much magnesium in the form of supplements, you may experience side effects, especially if you are allergic to magnesium supplements, which can be due to an ingredient or additive in the supplement.
The tolerable upper limit for magnesium dose is 350 milligrams for adults, according to the NIH. Even taking magnesium supplements within this recommended range can cause side effects if you have a magnesium intolerance or sensitivity. Some of these symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
Although an allergic reaction to magnesium supplements is rare, if your body mistakes a form of magnesium salt as a harmful substance, your immune system begins to produce IgE antibodies that attack the allergen, notes MedlinePlus. The antibodies trigger the production of histamine, which causes inflammation in the soft tissue throughout your body. Signs of an allergic reaction to magnesium oxide may be mild or severe, according to Drugs.com and include:
- Rash or hives
- Itching, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- Tightness in your chest or throat
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Unusual hoarseness
- Swelling of the mouth, face or throat
If you have a medical condition, such as impaired renal function, taking excessive amounts of supplements may cause too much magnesium to build up in your body, causing serious side effects. Doses of more than 5,000 milligrams a day have been associated with hypermagnesemia, warns NIH. Some symptoms may include:
- Facial flushing
- Retention of urine
More severe cases can progress to:
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme hypotension
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you have been diagnosed with allergies. A medical professional may recommend a specific diet that can treat a deficiency without the risk of serious side effects.