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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential nutrient, meaning that your body needs it for healthy functioning. It is found in significant quantities throughout the body and used for numerous purposes, including muscle relaxation, blood clotting, and the manufacture of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the body's main energy molecule).

It has been called nature's calcium channel blocker. The idea refers to magnesium's ability to block calcium from entering muscle and heart cells. A group of prescription heart medications work in a similar way, although much more powerfully. This may be the basis for some of magnesium's effects when it is taken as a supplement in fairly high doses.

Preliminary double-blind studies suggest that regular use of magnesium supplements may help prevent migraine headaches , 1 hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises, 2 and kidney stones , 3 and help treat high blood pressure , 4 5 6 angina , 7 dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), 8 pregnancy-induced leg cramps , 9 and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (including menstrual migraines). 10 People with diabetes are often deficient in magnesium, 11 12 and according to some (but not all) studies, magnesium supplementation may enhance blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes or prediabetic conditions. 13 One study found that magnesium supplements might be helpful for people with mitral valve prolapse who also have low levels of...

Safety Issues

The US government has set the following upper limits for use of magnesium supplements:

  • Children
  • 1-3 years: 65 mg
  • 4-8 years: 110 mg
  • Adults: 350 mg
  • Pregnant or Nursing Women: 350 mg

In general, magnesium appears to be quite safe when taken at or below recommended dosages. The most common complaint is loose stools. However, people with severe kidney or heart disease should not take magnesium (or any other supplement) except on the advice of a physician. Maximum safe dosages have not been established for young children. There has been one case of death caused by excessive use of magnesium supplements in a developmentally and physically disabled child. 14 Pregnant or nursing women should not exceed the nutritional dosages...