Micronutrient deficiency often goes unnoticed due to its overlapping symptoms with other disorders.
If you are suffering from chronic anxiety, sleep disorder or constipation you might be showing signs of magnesium deficiency.
An indispensable mineral, magnesium is a part of almost 300 enzymatic processes. A healthy adult’s normal level ranges between 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL. Levels below 9 mmol/l may result in disrupted sleep, poor bowel movements, migraine attacks and elevated blood pressure.
Let us understand what causes this deficiency, the mode & the best time to take magnesium and drug interactions to ensure optimal absorption.
When can you develop Magnesium deficiency?
- Poor diet- Anorexia and a diet devoid of magnesium-rich fruits like guava, papaya, and lettuce.
- Poor absorption- There can be malabsorption if you suffer from steatorrhea, IBS, diarrhea or coeliac disease.
- Disorders of the parathyroid gland- PTH and magnesium maintain calcium levels in the blood, hyperparathyroidism may lead to reduced serum magnesium.
- Alcohol abuse- It prevents the absorption of magnesium.
- Medications – Certain drugs like PPIs, antibiotics and diuretics alter the absorption of magnesium.
When are you diagnosed to have hypomagnesemia?
Diagnosing magnesium deficiency can be quite tricky. The most reliable test to measure magnesium retention is via an intravenous (IV) magnesium load followed by 24-hour urine collection.
In patients with impaired kidney function, this test is not so reliable. A level of under 0.9 mmol/l is considered hypomagnesaemia by BMJ Best Practice.
What are the signs of hypomagnesemia?
Since magnesium is a crucial component of almost all metabolic processes, low levels of magnesium can lead to multisystem disorders. Let’s get an overview of signs that could indicate low magnesium levels.
Neuromuscular signs: Weakness, tremors, paresthesia and tetany are common symptoms. At levels below .4mmol/l, it can even cause seizures, drowsiness, confusion and coma.
Cardiovascular signs: ECG changes and arrhythmias are noted
Metabolic: Hypokalaemia, hypocalcaemia, and metabolic acidosis are found.
Long-term effects: Severe magnesium deficiency is a rare occurrence. The commonly observed signs are due to long-term insufficiency. Uncontrolled diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high pressure, clogging of arteries, asthma, migraines, pre-eclampsia and cardiovascular diseases.
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How Magnesium promotes better health?
Sleep– It has been called Nature’s Valium and has been proven to improve subjective measures of sleep such as total sleep time and sleep latency. If you are suffering from insomnia, the best time to take magnesium supplements for sleep is an hour or two before bed.
Anxiety– Magnesium relaxes the hypothalamus(part of the brain responsible for secreting stress hormones) thereby reducing anxiety. The best time to take magnesium for anxiety is in the morning and at bedtime in two divided doses.
Blood pressure– Magnesium relaxes the vascular system and lowers blood pressure. A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies revealed that magnesium intake and levels are negatively related to blood pressure.
Metabolic Syndrome– Magnesium supplements have been shown to decrease insulin resistance in several double-blind studies and improved a number of cardiovascular risk factors, including fasting glucose, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)- and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and diastolic BP.
Constipation– Magnesium is an osmotic laxative. Magnesium supplement works by drawing water into your intestine and making stool easier to pass. The best time to take magnesium for constipation is in the morning.
When to have Magnesium Supplements?
Magnesium supplements can be taken at any time without worry. However, it is best to maintain a consistent time for taking them.
In case of recurrent GI problems, consumption of supplements with food might reduce the symptoms. However, you need to be aware of certain factors.
Phytic acid, usually found in legumes acts as an anti-nutrient since it causes mineral binding in the intestines forming complexes with calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
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- Minerals: A higher intake of other minerals could compromise magnesium absorption.
- Antibiotics: If you are taking antibiotics from the quinolone or tetracycline families, magnesium supplements should be taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after the antibiotics
- Calcium Channel blockers: If combined with magnesium supplements can exacerbate adverse effects like dizziness and nausea.
- Bisphosphonates: If you are taking bisphosphonates, make sure you take magnesium at least 2 hours before or after the pills.
In some cases, magnesium supplements may cause adverse effects like
- Abdominal cramps
- Those with Kidney issues should avoid magnesium supplements due to high absorption and poor renal clearance
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While rarely deficient in macros, our diets often lack certain micronutrients. Their deficiency can lead to quite serious conditions if not addressed.
Magnesium is a true workhorse of our body, involved in several systems and reactions. So it is essential to supplement it if we are unable to get adequate amounts through diet.
Daily recommended dose of magnesium
The daily dose is 310–420 mg daily for adults.
How long does it take for magnesium to work?
Magnesium supplements take 30mins to 3 hrs to take effect, varying among individuals.
What is the best form to have magnesium supplements?
Research has shown that magnesium citrate form had 65% absorption(Lingberg et al) while oxides had a lower absorption ratio.
Citrates, taurates, ascorbates, lactates, chlorides, and picolinates all seem to have a nearby range of bioavailability.