Can Magnesium Supplements Cause Tiredness?

Magnesium supplements are one way to get this essential nutrient into your diet. But you may be wondering if taking supplements will cause magnesium fatigue, considering that this mineral influences sleep patterns.

Magnesium supplements are thought to have some effect on sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. (Image: Aleksei Kudriavtsev/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Magnesium supplements are thought to have some effect on sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Small studies have shown that supplements may help elderly people fall asleep faster, so supplements may aid in your quest to become drowsy. But you should check with your doctor before popping pills.

Magnesium Fatigue from Supplements

A small study conducted on 46 elderly people, which was published in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, found that magnesium supplements did help subjects with insomnia. Researchers believe that this mineral may play a role in circadian rhythms and melatonin production.

This study is often cited as evidence that magnesium supplements help with sleep. One of the sources that cited it was an October 2018 report in the journal Nutrients, which concluded that dietary magnesium helps regulate sleep patterns. In this study, 1,487 adults were surveyed starting in 2002.

But Harvard Health states that there's enough evidence to confirm that magnesium supplements help with sleep. The idea of magnesium fatigue or magnesium drowsiness is more complicated. If you feel you don't get enough of this important nutrient from food and you want to try supplements for a better night's sleep, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests discussing this with your doctor first.

Why Is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is an essential mineral. Your cells need it to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what gives them energy, according to Consumer Reports. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate and nerve transmission.

A review of studies published in the December 2016 issue of the journal BMC Medicine suggests that higher magnesium intakes may reduce the risk of stroke, heart failure, type II diabetes and overall risk of death. In clinical trials, participants who consumed an extra 100 milligrams of the mineral each day decreased their risk of stroke by 7 percent, diabetes risk by 19 percent and the risk of heart failure by 22 percent.

The mineral is also important for bone health, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports. When consumed as part of a balanced diet, it may lower your risk of fractures and osteoporosis, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.

People with migraines may have low levels of magnesium. Small studies have shown that supplements may help with this. But the NIH cautions that taking this mineral for migraines should only be done under a doctor's supervision.

Your body needs magnesium regularly. This mineral is excreted in the sweat, urine and stools and must be replenished daily to keep your body functioning like a well-oiled machine, according to the BMC Medicine review.

Magnesium is best obtained from food, according to the NIH. Most people, however, don't get enough of this essential element from diet alone. That's where supplements can help. Still, magnesium deficiency is rare, state the experts at Harvard Health.

Are Magnesium Supplements Recommended?

High-magnesium foods don't seem to induce daytime sleepiness, especially in women, according to the Nutrients review. Therefore, magnesium tiredness is unlikely. But nearly half of all Americans, along with 70 to 80 percent of those over 70 years old, don't meet their daily magnesium needs through diet, according to Consumer Reports.

MedlinePlus recommends that adult men get 400 to 420 milligrams of magnesium daily, while adult women should get 310 to 320 milligrams of magnesium per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume slightly more than the recommendations for adult women.

The NIH states that while Americans across the board don't get enough of this mineral from their diet, teenage girls and men over 70 are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium. If you don't get enough of it from food alone, consider including supplements in your diet to prevent deficiencies. Discuss your options with a healthcare provider to stay on the safe side.

Magnesium Causing Anxiety or Helping?

The NSF states that magnesium helps calm the brain, which may lead to better sleep. It's not exactly magnesium fatigue, though. This mineral may increase the neurotransmitter GABA, which is thought to slow your thinking. A review of studies published in the April 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients, however, shows something else.

Researchers say there is suggestive but inconclusive evidence that magnesium supplements can help with mild anxiety. The quality of studies showing a potential association between this mineral and anxiety was poor. Reports on the placebo effect were weak, and the authors questioned the definitions of anxiety used, stating that "It is clear that well-designed randomized controlled trials are required."

That said, scientists agree that there may be a link. Experimental studies using animals and studies of magnesium supplements on clinical anxiety disorders indicate that this mineral may help calm the mind. The authors added, "It is the quality of the available evidence rather than the absence of a potential mechanism which has hindered convincing demonstration of such effects."

Getting Magnesium From Food

Consumer Reports recommends getting this mineral from food unless your doctor tells you otherwise. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the average adult consumes about 330 milligrams of magnesium per day from food. That's not bad. It's a little less than what most men need and about what most women need.

Dietary sources are varied. Some of the healthiest magnesium-rich foods include:

  • Fruits (bananas, dried apricots and avocados)
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • Peas and beans (legumes) and seeds
  • Soy products (soy flour and tofu)
  • Whole grains (brown rice and millet)
  • Milk

Magnesium side effects are rare, according to MedlinePlus, although they may occur from taking too much of this mineral in the form of supplements. There is a risk for diarrhea and impaired kidney function, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. If you continue to overdose on magnesium, you may experience lethargy, confusion, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure.

If you're taking magnesium supplements, whether to help you fall asleep or boost your body's intake of this essential mineral, have a talk with your doctor about how much you should use to ensure you're getting the proper amounts.

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