Magnesium. It’s a thing your nan probably told you to take for cramps. Or you might have heard of its use as a supplement. But there’s so much more to it than that. Did you know that it’s found in chocolate? Or that it can interfere with some medications?
What is Magnesium?
Generally speaking, Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s found in lots of conveniently delicious foodstuffs. It’s important for tons of functions in the body, including muscle, bone, and hormone health. But its biggest roles are turning the food you eat into energy, and ensuring your parathyroid glands function properly.
It’s also involved in all sorts of biochemical reactions in your body. Which means it can support things as varied as exercise performance, mood, and blood sugar levels. It’s also been shown to help with PMS symptoms and migraines.
Where can I get it and how much do I need?
Luckily, Magnesium is found in a lot of delicious foodstuffs. Spinach, nuts, and wholemeal bread are particularly rich in the mineral.
Generally, the recommended daily intake is 300mg a day for adult men and 270mg a day for adult women. Eating a balanced diet should mean you can achieve that fairly easily. But if you’re struggling, supplements can help make up the deficit.
Can I take too much Magnesium?
In a word, yes. If you take more than about 400mg/day in the short term, you might experience diarrhea. There’s not much evidence about what happens in the long term if you continue to take high doses, though.
What happens if my Magnesium is low?
Low levels, also known as Hypomagnesemia, can be caused by some medical conditions that change how your kidneys or gut function, leading to increased loss of the mineral. Symptoms include nausea, muscle cramps, twitching, weakness, or an irregular heartbeat. Please talk to a healthcare type if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms
What about Magnesium and medication?
Magnesium can interact with some medications and impact how well they work. But the reverse is also true. Some medications can stop your body using Magnesium correctly. For instance, antacids, which lower stomach acid production, can lower your levels.
Examples of these medications include:
If you take these kinds of medications then it might be worth talking to a healthcare type about your levels.
In general, avoid taking these medications at the same time as other medications. Leave around four hours between the two, as the Magnesium might decrease your body’s ability to absorb them.
Examples of medications that are affected include:
- Alendronate: treats Osteoporosis
- Thyroxine: taken for Thyroid conditions
- Chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine: For Malaria/Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Nitrofurantoin: antibiotics, commonly used for UTIs
So, now what?
Magnesium is important for all sorts of functions in our body, including hormonal health. Most of us will likely be getting enough in our diets. Which is good, because high doses of magnesium can be harmful!
But if you have a medical condition, it is important to speak to your doctor about whether you need to take extra Magnesium. And whether this will impact any of your other medications.