Taking magnesium supplements can make you sleepy, but more research is needed to determine whether this is a legitimate claim. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with many experts, suggest that you check with a doctor about your magnesium dosage if you do take supplements.
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Magnesium Dosage and Drowsiness
This essential mineral is found in many foods, although the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (NIH) states that most Americans don't get enough magnesium. Men should get 400 to 420 milligrams each day, while women should get 310 to 320 milligrams daily. Pregnant women should aim for 360 milligrams a day.
Magnesium dosage requirements are best fulfilled through diet, according to the NIH. If you don't get enough of this important mineral from food, discuss with your doctor whether you should take supplements and where your magnesium dosage should be set. There is some research showing that magnesium supplements can lead to drowsiness, but the study results are mixed.
One study measured whether people who ate a diet rich in magnesium felt sleepy during the day. The study, which was conducted on 1,487 adults and published in the October 2018 issue of the journal Nutrients, showed that the consumption of 289 milligrams of the mineral through diet each day didn't make people feel more tired during the day. However, it seemed to help them fall asleep better and maintain a normal sleep pattern at night.
Magnesium and Sleep
A small, double-blind study conducted on 46 elderly people gave one group 500 milligrams of magnesium. The study, outlined in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, found that those who took supplements fell asleep more quickly, got better sleep and slept longer than the placebo group.
A review of studies in the May 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients looked at the relationship between magnesium supplements, anxiety and stress. Researchers have found that that this mineral may increase the ability of GABA, an amino acid, to reduce anxiety and stress levels. More studies are needed, though, as the quality of the evidence reviewed was poor.
Magnesium for sleep and anxiety may have some merit, although most studies are inconclusive, reports the NSF. Before popping pills, try to get more of this mineral in your diet. Eat vegetables, such as squash and broccoli, and nuts like cashews and almonds to boost your magnesium intake.
If you're concerned about the level of magnesium in your system, blood tests don't tell the whole story, states Harvard Health. Most of your body's supply of this mineral is inside the bones and cells, so blood levels may not be accurate.
Taking Magnesium Supplements
If you take this mineral in supplement form, the NIH recommends choosing a formula that your body can easily absorb. Magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate and magnesium chloride appear to work best. You can purchase this mineral as a single supplement or in a multivitamin combination. It's also an ingredient in some laxatives and other products for treating heartburn and indigestion.
Magnesium supplements can interact with some medicines. They may affect your body's ability to absorb certain drugs, including bisphosphonates, which are used to treat osteoporosis.
If you're using antibiotics, take them separately because the supplement may interfere with their absorption. Diuretics can increase or decrease the loss of this mineral through urine, depending on what you're taking. High doses of zinc can make it hard for your body to regulate magnesium.
Magnesium overdose is a rare thing, according to Medline Plus. When it happens, it's usually from supplements, not food, states the Linus Pauling Institute. Your doctor can determine whether you really need a supplement and how much to take based on your medications and health history. That's why it's a good idea to take magnesium under medical supervision.
The Role of Magnesium
This mineral is required for many of the things your body needs to do — more than 300 biochemical reactions, according to Medline Plus. It helps keep your nerves and muscles firing regularly, supports immune function, regulates heartbeat and promotes bone health.
Magnesium also regulates your blood glucose levels and helps your body produce energy and protein, according to Medline Plus. Research is ongoing about the role this mineral plays in high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
A review of studies in the December 2016 edition of the journal BMC Medicine looked at the dietary intake of magnesium to determine whether or not a diet rich in this mineral helps prevent certain diseases. The authors concluded that it may lower the risk of stroke, heart failure and diabetes while decreasing overall mortality rates.
There are studies, however, investigating whether supplements can help with disease prevention as well. The Linus Pauling Institute says that most studies aren't conclusive, but some evidence shows that supplements may help with high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
Dangers of Too Much Magnesium
Taking excessive amounts of this mineral in supplement form is rare, but it has some side effects, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Getting too much magnesium from food, on the other hand, shouldn't cause any adverse reactions.
If you've taken higher doses of the supplement than your body can handle, you may get diarrhea, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. That's why magnesium is sometimes an ingredient in laxatives. If you have any kidney problems, too much magnesium may worsen your symptoms and cause complications. In this case, there is a risk of magnesium buildup in the bloodstream, which may cause your blood pressure to drop.
More serious side effects from this mineral supplement include lethargy and confusion. Your heart may beat abnormally and your kidneys may stop functioning properly. Muscle weakness and difficulty breathing may occur, too. In some cases, excessive magnesium intake may lead to cardiac arrest.
Magnesium supplements do have their place, especially if you don't get enough of this mineral from your diet. However, you need to first discuss with your doctor to determine whether you could benefit from supplemental magnesium and how much you should take.
- National Sleep Foundation: "Power Down Vitamins: Promote Better Sleep With Magnesium"
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Consumers"
- Nutrients: "Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up"
- Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: "The Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Primary Insomnia in Elderly: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial"
- Nutrients: "The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress — A Systematic Review"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Magnesium"
- Medline Plus: "Magnesium in Diet"
- BMC Medicine: "Dietary Magnesium Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and All-Cause Mortality: A Dose–Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies"