Magnesium is a vital nutrient for regulating many body processes, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. This mineral also supports the making of protein, bone, and DNA.
The body requires magnesium in large amounts. This type of mineral is known as a macro-mineral.
While the most efficient way to consume nutrients is in their natural forms, supplements are available to boost magnesium intake in people with low levels.
Magnesium glycinate is a supplement that the body can easily absorb.
People often use magnesium glycinate instead of other magnesium supplements, as the body finds it easier to absorb magnesium in this form.
It is also one of the gentlest supplements on the stomach.
Unlike other forms of magnesium, it might not cause as many side effects, such as an upset stomach or loose stools.
This characteristic makes magnesium glycinate a good supplement for people recovering from bariatric surgery or anyone who might be at risk for magnesium levels.
People who have kidney issues should consult a doctor before taking magnesium glycinate. Kidney problems can cause difficulties in excreting the excess magnesium.
Some people benefit more from magnesium glycinate than others.
People with the following conditions might see positive effects after taking magnesium glycinate:
- High blood pressure or heart disease: Magnesium supplements can help decrease blood pressure slightly.
- Type 2 diabetes: Consuming high amounts of magnesium in the diet might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Magnesium helps to break down sugars and might decrease insulin resistance.
- Osteoporosis: Magnesium plays a role in the development of healthy bones, and people with higher levels of magnesium might have a higher bone mineral density. This is important in helping reduce the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.
- Migraine headaches: People who experience migraines sometimes have low levels of magnesium in their blood and tissues. Supplements may help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Depression: Serotonin is a "feel-good" chemical in the brain. Insufficient levels of magnesium seem to reduce serotonin levels, and antidepressants can raise levels of brain magnesium.
Measuring magnesium levels in the blood can show misleading results because magnesium sits within the cells or bones, rather than the bloodstream.
Doctors will typically measure serum magnesium concentrations in the blood, saliva, or urine to help assess levels as accurately as possible.
It is important to wait for a final diagnosis of deficiency before taking supplements, as the symptoms commonly associated with low magnesium levels could be the cause of another health problem.
Legumes, nuts, and seeds are a key source of magnesium.
Many common foods contain magnesium.
Most people can reach the recommended daily dosage through diet alone.
Common foods that contain magnesium include:
- legumes, nuts, and seeds
- whole grains
- spinach and other leafy vegetables
- fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- yogurt, milk, and other dairy products
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Speak to a doctor before taking any new supplements.
The recommended daily amount of magnesium depends on the age and sex of a person. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide guidelines for the daily recommended amount in milligrams (mg) below.
|LIFE STAGE||RECOMMENDED AMOUNT|
|Between birth and 6 months||30 mg|
|Infants 7 to 12 months||75 mg|
|Children aged 1 to 3 years||80 mg|
|Children aged 4 to 8 years||130 mg|
|Children aged 9 to 13 years||240 mg|
|Boys ages 14 to 18 years||410 mg|
|Girls ages 14 to 18 years||360 mg|
|Adult men||400 to 420 mg|
|Adult women||310 to 320 mg|
|Pregnant teens||400 mg|
|Pregnant women||350 to 360 mg|
|Breast-feeding teens||360 mg|
|Breast-feeding women||310 to 320 mg|
According to the NIH, most people in the United States do not get enough magnesium from their daily diet. Men older than 70 years of age and girls under 18 years of age are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium.
Low magnesium intake does not typically cause any symptoms. The body loses a certain amount of magnesium every day as a result of normal processes, such as muscle movement, the heartbeat, and hormone production.
Though only a person needs only a small amount of magnesium, it is important to replenish magnesium levels to prevent deficiency.
When people who do not have magnesium deficiency experience low magnesium levels, the kidneys help to retain magnesium by restricting the amount that the body loses in the urine. This process has a temporary effect until levels rise, but a person with low magnesium levels for long periods can develop magnesium deficiency.
Some gastrointestinal diseases can lead to a magnesium deficiency.
There are non-dietary causes that can reduce magnesium levels.
Some medical conditions and medications affect magnesium absorption. They can also increase the amount of magnesium expelled from the body. These factors can result in magnesium deficiency.
Health conditions that can lead to magnesium deficiencies include:
- gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis
- high thyroid hormone levels
- kidney disease
- long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec
Some medications can have a similar effect, including:
- taking diuretics
- taking prescription drugs used to treat acid reflux or peptic ulcers, which can lead to low blood levels of magnesium when people take them over a long period
- taking diuretics, which assist with water retention and can increase or decrease the loss of magnesium through urine.
Certain lifestyle factors can also reduce magnesium levels, including:
- drinking too much coffee, soda, or alcohol
- eating too much sodium
- heavy menstrual periods
- excessive sweating
People who are deficient in magnesium can experience the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- fatigue and weakness
Extreme magnesium deficiency can lead to the following symptoms:
- muscle cramps
- personality changes
- abnormal heart rhythm
Risks and complications
Only a doctor should diagnose magnesium deficiency.
They can confirm the condition through blood tests, as well as identify the correct plan of action to return magnesium levels to normal.
Taking large or frequent doses of dietary magnesium supplements, including magnesium glycinate, can cause adverse effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Extremely high intakes of magnesium can lead to an irregular heartbeat and potentially a cardiac arrest, which can be dangerous.
Magnesium glycinate and other supplements might also interfere or interact with the following medicines:
- Bisphosphonates: These are used to treat osteoporosis. The body does not absorb these drugs well if people take them too close to taking supplements or medications that contain a high amount of magnesium.
- Antibiotics: The body may not absorb some antibiotics if an individual takes them too soon before or after a magnesium supplement.
Taking extremely high doses of supplemental zinc can also interfere with the absorption and regulation of magnesium in the body.