Magnesium supplements: What you need to know before taking them

Magnesium is a necessary mineral that is important for many body processes, such as the synthesis of proteins, the creation of energy, the maintenance of healthy muscles and nerves, and the control of blood pressure.

Additionally, it contributes to the synthesis of DNA and bone [1]. Due to a deficit, inadequate food intake, or certain medical problems, certain people may need magnesium supplements.

These supplements are used to help people fulfill their daily magnesium needs, especially those who may be suffering from a deficiency, an insufficient diet, or particular medical problems that have an impact on magnesium levels.

There are several kinds of magnesium supplements, and each has a variable bioavailability (how effectively the body absorbs the mineral). 

Magnesium supplements come in many forms, including pills, capsules, powders, and liquids. There are also external topical versions, like creams and oils, available.

10 Facts about magnesium supplements you may not know about

Now that you are familiar with the fundamentals of magnesium supplements, read on for additional interesting facts:

1. Essential mineral

Magnesium is an important element that is necessary for the body’s approximately 300 enzymatic processes, which include the synthesis of proteins, the creation of energy, the maintenance of muscles and nerves, and the control of blood pressure [2]. 

2. Magnesium deficiency

Symptoms of a deficiency include cramping in the muscles, weakness, exhaustion, irritability, sleeplessness, and irregular heartbeat. In extreme circumstances, it may aggravate cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis.

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3. Bioavailability

The degree to which magnesium may be absorbed and utilized by the body varies across various types of supplemental magnesium. Generally speaking, magnesium citrate, glycinate, and chloride are more bioavailable than other forms like magnesium oxide.

4. Food sources

Magnesium is present in many foods, including whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Without using supplements, a balanced diet full of these items can help you get the daily recommended amount of the mineral.

food sources

5. Dosage

Depending on one’s age, sex, and stage of life, magnesium has a different recommended daily allowance (RDA). The right dose for your unique requirements should be determined in consultation with your healthcare professional.

6. Drug interactions

Abdominal pains, nausea, and diarrhea are typical side effects. Rarely, taking too much of this supplement might result in more serious complications such as renal damage or irregular heartbeat.

7. Topical application

Magnesium can also be given topically in the form of lotions, gels, or oils. Research is currently ongoing to determine how well topical magnesium penetrates the skin to treat muscle cramps and discomfort.

8. Special populations

People who suffer from renal illness, gastrointestinal issues, or alcoholism may be more susceptible to deficiency and may need to take supplements under medical supervision.

9. Balance with other minerals

Magnesium functions in harmony with other minerals such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. For the body to function at its best, a balance between these minerals must be kept.

10. Side effects

Supplemental magnesium can have negative side effects, especially if taken in excess. Abdominal pains, nausea, and diarrhea are typical side effects.

When should you take magnesium supplements?

Depending on the type of magnesium being taken, the purpose for supplementing, and personal preferences, the best time to take the supplements varies. The following are some general principles:

  1. Magnesium deficit: If you have been identified as having a magnesium deficiency or if you exhibit signs of one, your doctor may advise taking supplements.
  2. Inadequate dietary intake: You may need to take a supplement to get the daily recommended amount of magnesium if your diet is deficient in this mineral. For tailored counsel, speak with your doctor or a trained dietician [3].
  3. Specific medical diseases: Some medical illnesses, such as renal disease, gastrointestinal issues, or alcoholism, might raise the risk of magnesium insufficiency. Under medical supervision, magnesium supplementation could be required in certain circumstances.
  4. Certain symptoms: Magnesium supplements can be beneficial for those who have certain symptoms, such as cramping in the muscles, sleeplessness, or constipation, which may be caused by low magnesium levels.
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How to take magnesium supplements

  1. To increase absorption and lower the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort, some people prefer to take these supplements with a meal. Magnesium, however, might compete with other minerals for absorption, such as calcium, iron, and zinc, thus it would be advantageous to take it separately from these minerals.
  2. When taken in the evening, some forms of magnesium, such as magnesium glycinate, induce sleep and relaxation. It may be beneficial to take these vitamins in the evening or right before bed.
  3. Ultimately, your tastes and daily schedule will determine the ideal time to take supplements. Pick a time that works with your schedule and enables regular supplementing.

Do you need medical assistance when taking magnesium supplements?

Before beginning any new supplement, it is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare professional.

Although magnesium is a necessary element for healthy bodily functioning, ingesting too much of it or taking it incorrectly might have negative effects.

Do you need medical assistance when taking magnesium supplements?
Photograph: GitaKulinica/Envato

Here are some explanations of why seeking medical advice is crucial:

Dosage recommendations

Considering your age, sex, medical history, and unique needs, your doctor can help you establish the right dosage for you.

Finding a deficit

Your doctor can determine if you already have a deficiency or are at risk of becoming one. They can also decide whether dietary changes alone are sufficient or whether supplements are required.

Form of magnesium

The bioavailability of various forms of magnesium supplements varies, and some are more suited for treating particular disorders. Your needs can be determined by a healthcare professional who can suggest the best kind of magnesium [4].

Drug interaction

Magnesium supplements may interact with pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, diuretics, and anti-osteoporosis treatments. It is possible to prevent such interactions and guarantee the safe use of supplements by speaking with your healthcare professional.


Your magnesium levels and general health may need to be checked by healthcare professionals in some situations when you take supplements, particularly if you have an underlying medical condition or are taking drugs that may influence your magnesium levels.

Side effects

Taking too much magnesium can cause constipation, nausea, and cramping in the abdomen. Rarely, it can lead to more serious concerns including renal damage or irregular heartbeat. You can identify and treat any side effects with the assistance of your healthcare physician.

Even though magnesium supplements may be helpful for some people and circumstances, it is crucial to speak with a healthcare professional to ensure safe and effective use.

What are the side effects of magnesium?

Magnesium supplements can have negative effects, especially when used in excess or by people with certain medical problems, but they are typically safe when taken as directed.

The following are a few typical adverse effects:

  1. Diarrhea: In larger amounts or when taken in forms like magnesium citrate, which is frequently used to treat constipation, it can have a laxative effect, which can result in diarrhea.
  2. Vomiting and nausea: Taking magnesium supplements, especially if done so on an empty stomach, can make some individuals feel queasy, nauseated, or sick to their stomach.
  3. Abdominal cramping or bloating: Magnesium supplements may make some people feel uncomfortable, crampy, or bloated in their abdomens.
  4. Low blood pressure: Magnesium can drop blood pressure, so talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you have low blood pressure or are using drugs to regulate it.
  5. Irregular heartbeat: An irregular heartbeat can result from consuming too much magnesium, but this is uncommon and usually happens in those who are taking really large dosages or who have renal issues [5]. 
  6. Kidney problems: Magnesium supplements should be used with caution by those who have renal disease or impaired kidney function since their kidneys may not be able to appropriately remove excess magnesium. This might result in a buildup of magnesium in the body, which would have negative repercussions.
  7. Drug interactions: Magnesium supplements may have unwanted side effects or affect the efficacy of several medicines, including antibiotics, diuretics, and treatments for osteoporosis.
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Photograph: shapoval08/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.