How Dietary Supplements Can Help Prevent Magnesium Deficiency and Improve Health
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily functions, such as muscle contraction, nerve transmission, energy production, bone health, and blood pressure regulation. However, many people do not get enough magnesium from their diet, which can lead to magnesium deficiency. This condition can cause various symptoms and health problems, such as muscle cramps, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, depression, and osteoporosis. In this article, we will explore the causes, signs, and consequences of magnesium deficiency, and how dietary supplements can help prevent and treat it.
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is a condition where the level of magnesium in the blood is lower than normal. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adults is 310 to 420 milligrams (mg) per day, depending on age and sex.
However, many factors can reduce the intake or absorption of magnesium from food sources or increase the loss or excretion of magnesium from the body. Some of these factors include:
- A diet that is low in magnesium-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and dairy products.
- Certain health conditions that affect the digestive system, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or chronic diarrhea.
- Chronic alcohol use disorder or alcohol abuse, which can impair the absorption and metabolism of magnesium and increase its urinary excretion.
- Diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM), which can cause increased urinary excretion of magnesium due to high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
- Kidney disease or dysfunction, which can impair the reabsorption of magnesium from the urine and increase its loss.
- Long-term use of certain medications that can interfere with the absorption or retention of magnesium, such as diuretics (water pills), proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), antibiotics, antacids, laxatives, or corticosteroids.
- Aging, which can reduce the efficiency of the digestive system and the kidney function and increase the risk of chronic diseases that affect magnesium status.
What Are the Symptoms and Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms and consequences that affect various organs and systems in the body. Some of these include:
- Neuromuscular symptoms: These include muscle weakness, cramps, spasms, tremors, twitching, tingling, numbness, or pain in the limbs or face.
- Cardiovascular symptoms: These include irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), palpitations, chest pain (angina), high blood pressure (hypertension), or increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Neurological symptoms: These include headache, migraine, dizziness, vertigo, confusion, delirium, depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, or seizures.
- Skeletal symptoms: These include bone loss (osteoporosis), bone pain, fractures, or joint inflammation (arthritis).
- Metabolic symptoms: These include low blood calcium (hypocalcemia), low blood potassium (hypokalemia), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), insulin resistance, or impaired glucose tolerance.
- Other symptoms: These include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, constipation, or diarrhea.
How Can Dietary Supplements Help Prevent and Treat Magnesium Deficiency?
Dietary supplements are products that contain one or more nutrients that are intended to supplement the diet. They can come in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, powders, liquids, gummies, or bars.
Dietary supplements that contain magnesium can help prevent and treat magnesium deficiency by providing an additional source of this mineral. However, not all forms of magnesium are equally absorbed and utilized by the body. Some of the most common and effective forms of magnesium supplements are:
- Magnesium citrate: This is a salt of magnesium and citric acid that has a high bioavailability and solubility. It can also have a laxative effect at high doses.
- Magnesium oxide: This is a salt of magnesium and oxygen that has a low bioavailability but a high amount of elemental magnesium per weight. It can also cause gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea or constipation at high doses.
- Magnesium glycinate: This is a chelate of magnesium and glycine that has a high bioavailability and tolerability. It can also have a calming effect on the nervous system.
- Magnesium malate: This is a salt of magnesium and malic acid that has a moderate bioavailability and solubility. It can also support energy production and muscle function.
- Magnesium chloride: This is a salt of magnesium and chlorine that has a high bioavailability and solubility. It can also be applied topically to the skin or used in baths or sprays.
The optimal dose of magnesium supplements depends on several factors, such as the individual’s age, sex, health status, dietary intake, and medication use. The NIH advises not to exceed the upper limit of 350 mg per day of supplemental magnesium for adults, as higher doses may cause adverse effects such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, or low blood pressure.
It is also important to consult with a health care professional before taking magnesium supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications that may interact with magnesium. Some of these include:
- Antibiotics: Magnesium may reduce the absorption and effectiveness of some antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, quinolones, or aminoglycosides. It is advisable to take magnesium supplements at least two hours before or after taking these antibiotics.
- Bisphosphonates: Magnesium may reduce the absorption and effectiveness of some bisphosphonates, such as alendronate, ibandronate, or risedronate. These are medications used to treat osteoporosis. It is advisable to take magnesium supplements at least two hours before or after taking these bisphosphonates.
- Diuretics: Magnesium may increase the risk of magnesium loss or toxicity when taken with some diuretics, such as thiazides or loop diuretics. These are medications used to treat high blood pressure or fluid retention. It is advisable to monitor the blood levels of magnesium and adjust the dose of magnesium supplements accordingly when taking these diuretics.
- Proton pump inhibitors: Magnesium may increase the risk of magnesium deficiency when taken with some proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, esomeprazole, or lansoprazole. These are medications used to treat acid reflux or peptic ulcers. It is advisable to monitor the blood levels of magnesium and supplement with magnesium if needed when taking these proton pump inhibitors.
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions, but many people do not get enough of it from their diet. Magnesium deficiency can cause various symptoms and health problems that affect the muscles, nerves, heart, bones, and metabolism. Dietary supplements that contain magnesium can help prevent and treat magnesium deficiency by providing an additional source of this mineral. However, it is important to choose the right form and dose of magnesium supplements and consult with a health care professional before taking them. By doing so, you can improve your health and well-being with this vital mineral.