Supplements

The deal with magnesium supplements: Do I really need to take it?

Aug. 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM ET

benefits of taking magnesium
Matej Pribelsky/E+/getty images /
magnesium supplements

Pros:

  • It is involved in more than 300 kinds of reactions in your body including muscle contraction and fat synthesis.  
  • Many people don’t get the recommended daily allowance. Large amounts are found in magnesium rich foods such as: spices, nuts, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are also rich in magnesium.
  • It has shown benefits in treating irregular heart rhythms, asthma and some pregnancy-related problems when given intravenously for medical emergencies.
  • It may prevent migraine headaches, but clinical trials have shown mixed results.

Cons:

  • It prevents the small intestine from absorbing many medications.  
  • Side effect includes diarrhea, which is more common the higher the dose.  
  • Benefits in people with low intake are unclear. If you do decide to take it: Consult a healthcare provider to determine dosage—it depends on why you are taking magnesium and what type it is.

The bottom line:

There’s not enough evidence to support its use. It is better to rely on foods rich in magnesium and a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish in order to meet your daily magnesium requirement.

This supplement was reviewed and evaluated by the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Prescriptive Wellness Committee. Learn more about the committee and read other supplement reviews.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.


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