Most Americans don't meet their daily magnesium needs through diet alone, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. If you're considering adding magnesium supplements to your daily routine, make sure you choose the right kind. Some magnesium supplements are not absorbed as well as others and may cause gas pain or other side effects. Consult your doctor before adding any vitamin or mineral supplements to your daily routine.
Because of their laxative effect, magnesium supplements usually cause gas. You may help control this side effect by taking your doses in smaller amounts more often and on an empty stomach, suggests Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of "The Magnesium Miracle"
Organic Vs. Inorganic Magnesium Supplements
While any magnesium supplement can help you better meet your needs, according to Robert A. DiSilvestro, author of the "Handbook of Minerals as Nutritional Supplements," organic — or natural — magnesium supplements may be better absorbed than inorganic — or synthetic — ones. Examples of organic magnesium supplements include magnesium lactate, magnesium fumurate and magnesium citrate. Inorganic magnesium supplements include magnesium sulfate, magnesium chloride and magnesium carbonate.
Magnesium Side Effects
Poor absorption of your magnesium supplement can cause gastrointestinal side effects, including gas. In addition to gas pain, some people may also experience diarrhea or nausea when taking certain types of magnesium supplements. Supplement forms most commonly associated with diarrhea include magnesium carbonate, chloride, gluconate and oxide, says Drugs.com.
Other potential magnesium side effects might include low blood pressure, confusion, dizziness, change in heart rate, muscle weakness or skin irritation says Drugs.com. Allergic reactions are always a possibility as well. Consult your doctor if you experience any side effects after taking a magnesium supplement.
Benefits of Supplements
While some supplements have the potential to cause gas, magnesium also offers health benefits. About half of the magnesium is found in your bones, where it contributes to bone density to keep your bones strong, while the rest is in your soft tissue. Magnesium is needed to help perform more than 300 enzymatic reactions. It also assists in the production of protein, regulates blood sugar and blood pressure, and helps make energy.
Good Food Sources
While some people, such as those with gastrointestinal malabsorption, may need to take magnesium supplements, others may be able to meet their needs by including more magnesium-rich foods in their diet. The recommended daily allowance is 400-420 mg per day for males 14 years of age and older; for women it's 320-360 mg for the same age group, according to National Institutes of Health.
Some food and drinks provide more than the RDA. Cocoa powder provides 520 g per serving, according to the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Eight grams of wheat bran offers 520 mg of magnesium in the cereal group. Brazil nuts are the best source in the nut group and eating 6 nuts will 410 mg of magnesium.
Other good food sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews, spinach, black beans, soybeans and soy milk, whole-wheat bread, avocados, baked potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt and fortified breakfast cereals.
How Much Is Too Much
You cannot get too much magnesium from food because any excess is eliminated by your kidneys. But taking more than 5,000 mg per day of magnesium-containing supplements and laxatives have been associated with toxicity.
Symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, facial flushing, urine retention, depression and lethargy, may progress to muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest. Due to the inability of the kidney to eliminate the magnesium, toxicity is often associated with kidney disease or kidney failure, warns National Institute of Health.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Handbook of Minerals as Nutritional Supplements; Robert A. DiSilvestro
- Drugs.com: Magnesium Chloride: Side Effects
- Drugs.com: Magnesium Sulfate: Side Effects
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Elements: Magnesium
- Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND: Four Ways to Stop Magnesium From Causing Diarrhea