The body talks: Side effects of taking too much magnesium

Mg magnesium side effects

Taking too much of any supplement can cause side effects and ultimately can be dangerous. Considering that magnesium supplementation helps so many chemical processes in the body, it’s not always apparent when enough is enough or when you have taken too much. In this post I will walk through some side effect of taking too much magnesium, including signs to look for and strategies to help avoid taking more than your body can handle.

What dosing levels are recommended for magnesium supplementation?

While each person’s body is different, there are general guidelines around how much magnesium is considered safe. Those levels differ for men, women, and children so you have to do your research and consult with your physician if you are going to begin a magnesium supplementation program for yourself or your children. According the National Institute of Health, th

e following guidelines are set for age and sex:

  • Birth to 6 months (30mg)
  • Infants 7-12 months (75mg)
  • Children 1-3 years (80mg)
  • Children 4-8 years ( 130mg)
  • Children 9-13 years (240mg)
  • Teen boys 14-18 years (410mg)
  • Teen girls 14-18 years (360mg)
  • Men (400-420mg)
  • Women (310-320mg)
  • Pregnant teens (400mg) Breastfeeding teens (360 mg)
  • Pregnant women (350-360 mg) Breastfeeding women (310-320 mg)

What are signs I’m getting too little magnesium?

People can go for years with lower than optimal magnesium consumption. If you are healthy your kidneys will help solve for low intake by retaining more magnesium and flushing out less in bodily processes. That said low levels over the course of many years puts you in a deficient state and signs and symptoms of deficiency become apparent.

Common signs of deficiency include fatigue, weakness, inability to concentrate, numbness or tingling in certain parts of the body including the face, muscle tension or cramps, abnormal heart beat, changes in personality such as increased moodiness, and even seizures.

Some people are disposed to deficiency than others, particularly older people, those with gastrointestinal problems where absorption is an issue such as celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s. People with type 2 diabetes and people with alcohol or drug addictions also commonly have magnesium deficiency issues.

Low intakes over time can cause long term changes to biochemical pathways according to the NIH, and can illness risk long term. According to the Office of Dietary Supplement site there are four significant diseases that deficiency in magnesium could play a role:

  • Hypertension and cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Migraine headaches

Magnesium Intake: American diets

American diets are not what they used to be. Today we consume much more processed foods than we did fifty years ago. The processed and fast food world we live in has us going down a path to low consumption and near deficiency.

According to the NIH dietary survey, US magnesium consumption is on the decline. They found that American ingest less magnesium than their peers outside the US. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2006 recorded that American of all age get less magnesium that they should, older men and teenage girls had the lowest levels.

Unfortunately much of the available survey results are proxy results as no recent test have used blood draw for examination, yet rely on dietary estimates.

What are signs I’m taking too much magnesium?

The body has a very efficient system of getting rid of excess magnesium. Unless you have kidney problems it’s likely your kidneys are doing what is needed to filter out excess magnesium that you deliver to the body either through food or supplementation. Our bodies are smart, and know what to keep and what to get rid of.

The bottom line is consult your physician and do not supplement over the recommended limits. However, even at recommended limits it’s smart to know what to look out for in terms of signs of over consumption.

Signs of over consumption may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Coronary spasms
  • Hypocalcemia (low calcium)
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium)

Will magnesium supplements interact with any drugs I’m taking?

Magnesium supplementation could be a problem for people taking certain medication; in particular medicines can have an impact on absorption level for supplements. Please consult your doctor and pharmacist in any case where you plan to supplement, but consider the following drugs with known interactions or at least decrease absorption levels:

  • Osteoporosis medication: bisphosphonates
  • Diuretics often take with blood pressure meds
  • Antibiotic
  • Acid reflux medications

The key take-away is always remembered to consider the impact of medication on your supplementation and your supplementation on your medication. Everything is a possible interaction or impact.

Pragmatic rules to supplementation

Your goals around supplementation should be pragmatic. If you are inclined to track your food intake daily and monitor your consumption through a diary or other documentation, than you can really maximize your supplementation and take up to the daily recommended amount for your age and sex.

If you are not inclined to keeping a good record, a pragmatic rule to follow which will ensure you are on your way to replenishing your supply while avoiding side effects of taking too much magnesium is to take half the daily recommended allowance through supplementation. This approach allows you to ensure you are increasing your intake but also doesn’t put you in a position to have to worry about over supplementation.

Bottom line is even a low dose supplementation can make a difference. Long term low dose supplementation may be all you need to ensure you are getting just what you need. Remember that magnesium intake through food alone is probably not enough considering mineral depletion of modern day soil.

Finding a supplement that is well tolerated and also one where you are experiencing noticable positive improvement or benefits is optimal. Some pragmatic benefits may be using a magnesium type that aids in calming to induce more restful nights or finding one that helps with any other number of issues that magnesium is know to help including muscle cramps, constipation and stress reduction. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll experience the benefits.

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