Lately, the mineral magnesium has become an increasingly popular supplement that many patients in our practice are asking about. Magnesium (Mg) is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA. It is readily available through the diet in foods such as almonds, beans, some seeds, spinach, broccoli, avocados, dark chocolate and brown rice. There are groups of people who may be at risk for having a Mg deficiency – such as seniors, individuals with poor dietary variance, long term alcoholics, and teenage females. Some of the signs that you may be Mg deficient include:
- Muscle cramping or twitching
- Poor sleep
- Frequent urination at night
- Heart palpitations
- Mood changes
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and these symptoms can be caused by a host of other issues (thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, iron deficiency etc.). It is suggested that if an individual is in a high-risk group, and presents with some of these symptoms, it would be advisable to speak with your Doctor about it. Blood tests for Mg deficiency are not always accurate as blood levels may be normal while Mg levels in the tissues remains low, so your Doctor would weigh the evidence to decide if Mg supplementation is right for you.
If supplementation is recommended, there are many options of cheap, over the counter Mg supplements that can be found in most pharmacies (note that because Mg can interact with some common medications for the heart, diabetes, antibiotics and osteoporosis, it is important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a supplementation routine). An 8-week course of supplementation using up to 400mg of Magnesium Citrate (citrate is the most commonly available type) daily is an ideal way to start.
Other ways to help with symptoms of Mg deficiency include:
- Epson salt baths
- Topical Magnesium sprays (can be found at most pharmacies)
- Eating Mg rich foods
- Avoiding excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated soda