Magnesium is one of the most abundant essential minerals in the body, stored primarily in the bones while a very small amount circulates in the bloodstream. It plays a pivotal role in more than 300 metabolic reactions affecting a number of very important bodily processes, including:
- Protein production.
- Production and storage of cellular energy.
- Cell stability.
- DNA production.
- Transmission of nerve impulses.
- Metabolic processes in the bones.
- Heart protection.
- Signaling molecule etween muscles and nerves.
- Glucose and insulin production.
- Blood pressure control.
Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium is found in some foods and consuming these foods is the best way to acquire an adequate amount of magnesium. However, sometimes a sufficient amount of magnesium can’t be obtained by diet alone due to the nature of an individual’s lifestyle and therefore this deficiency needs to be corrected by magnesium supplementation. Some of the best food sources of magnesium are:
- Cashew nuts
- Whole grains such as wheat
- Soy milk
- Black beans
- Whole grain brown bread
- Unpeeled baked potato
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Two of the common causes of magnesium deficiency are intestinal malabsorption or an increase in its urinary excretion. However, it should be noted that low magnesium levels in healthy individuals is uncommon since magnesium levels are largely controlled by the kidneys. This means that the kidneys may increase or decrease the urinary excretion of magnesium, depending on the body’s requirements.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are divided into two parts:
- Early symptoms, including:
- Generalized weakness
- If low magnesium levels persist for a longer period of time, this leads to worsened symptoms, such as:
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities
- Muscle spasms
- Mood swings
- Personality disorders
- Heart rhythm disorders
Diseases Predisposing Magnesium Deficiency
As previously mentioned, the serum levels of magnesium are largely controlled by the kidneys, but there are pathological conditions that cause either malabsorption of magnesium or an increase in its elimination, such as:
- Gastrointestinal diseases: gluten sensitivity, Crohn’s disease, frequent gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea. All of which cause poor absorption of magnesium consequently reducing its level in the blood.
- Diabetes: An increase in blood sugar means an increase in urinary sugar levels as well as an increase in urination frequency, which in turn causes an increase in the excretion and loss of magnesium.
- Aging: As a person grows older, their digestive tract loses some of its ability to absorb nutrients, which ultimately reduces the level of magnesium being absorbed.
Benefits of Magnesium
- Magnesium & Constipation
Magnesium is a gut stimulant (laxative) and is widely used for constipation relief.
- Magnesium for the Stomach
Magnesium is one of the fastest acting antacids and heartburn relief medications. It also contributes to reducing indigestion.
- Magnesium & Pregnancy
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals utilized during pregnancy. A deficiency in magnesium during pregnancy may lead to many problems, including: premature labor, fetal development problems and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Additionally, magnesium is used as one of the treatments in cases of preeclampsia, as well as in cases of spasticity during pregnancy.
- Magnesium & Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements may reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings in both people with hypertension as well as pregnant women.
- Magnesium & Mental Health
Some studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements may reduce symptoms of depression in those suffering from it. It has also been linked to improved mood in individuals with anxiety disorders and depression.
- Magnesium & Diabetes
Magnesium plays an important role in insulin production in addition to other reactions in the body. Studies have shown that magnesium is associated with insulin resistance, which is the main problem in type 2 diabetes where cells do not respond to the existing insulin produced by the pancreas. It was found that people with diabetes also have magnesium deficiency.
Side Effects of Magnesium
Magnesium intake is generally considered safe and beneficial. However, adherence to specified doses is critical to avoid unwanted side effects resulting from overdose.
- Magnesium for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
Magnesium is considered very safe and beneficial for lactating and pregnant women. It is worth noting that the dose determined by the doctor must not be exceeded.
- Magnesium for Children
It is safe for all children to take magnesium in different doses according to their age since magnesium is involved in aiding bone building and formation.
- Some diseases in which magnesium intake is contraindicated or should be taken with caution:
- Kidney disease: In the event of kidney alignments, magnesium excretion from the body may be halted resulting in a dramatic increase in magnesium concentration due to its accumulation.
- Myasthenia gravis: Magnesium might worsen symptoms of this neurological disease.
- Drinking alcohol.
Drug Interactions with Magnesium
- Magnesium & Some Antibiotics
Magnesium intake with some antibiotics can affect their action, absorption and efficacy. It may also affect neuromuscular connections resulting in muscle alignments. These antibiotics include:
- Amikacin (Amikin)
- Gentamicin (Garamycin)
- Kanamycin (Kantrex)
- Tobramycin (Nebcin)
- Magnesium & Quinolone
Magnesium intake with quinolones might decrease their effectiveness. Quinolones are common antibiotics used in cases urinary tract infections and pyelonephritis, which include:
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Enoxacin (Penetrex)
- Norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin)
- Sparfloxacin (Zagam)
- Trovafloxacin (Trovan)
- Magnesium & Tetracycline
Magnesium intake reduces the effectiveness of tetracycline antibiotics.
- Magnesium & Antihypertensives: Diltiazem And Verapamil
Diltiazem and Verapamil are medications commonly used to treat patients with high blood pressure. They work by blocking magnesium channels, which helps lower blood pressure. Therefore, inform the doctor if you are taking any of these medications and avoid using them in conjunction with magnesium pills.
- Magnesium & Diuretics
Diuretics such as LasixR increase the concentration of magnesium in the blood which leads to its accumulation and the emergence of side effects. Other important diuretics with such action, include:
- Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
- Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL, Esidrix)
- Indapamide (Lozol)
- Metolazone (Zaroxolyn)
- Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
- Magnesium & Bisphosphonates
Magnesium reduces the effect of bisphosphonates.
- Magnesium & Muscle Relaxants
Magnesium works as a mono-agent to aid in muscle relaxation, therefore taking muscle relaxants alongside magnesium may increase their action and side effects.