First, you need to ask yourself why you're taking magnesium. Are you getting enough magnesium from your diet?
Are you having symptoms that you think show you need magnesium? Are you on medications that drain or raise your body’s magnesium levels?
You want to know the answers to these questions before you start taking magnesium supplements.
Magnesium is an important chemical needed for a variety functions in the body such as proper nerve and muscle function, regular heart rhythms, bone strength, regulating blood sugar and producing energy.
Adult males need 400 to 420 milligrams per day and adult females need 310 to 320 milligrams per day.
Pregnant women need 350 to 400 milligrams per day and breastfeeding women need 310 to 360 milligrams per day. (1)
Good sources of magnesium are such foods as spinach, nuts, whole wheat bread, avocados, yogurt, fortified cereals and salmon.
Symptoms of low magnesium may include GI symptoms, sleep disorders, muscle twitching or tingling, restless leg syndrome, heart arrhythmias, and confusion, among others.
Here are considerations as to why you may need magnesium and some suggestions as to when to take it:
1) If you are on drugs that increase magnesium loss
A number of drugs may increase your loss of magnesium, so check with your doctor as to whether you should supplement. See some of the drugs here.
Magnesium should be taken one hour before or two hours after taking certain antibiotics for this reason.
Read here to learn more about those drugs that are affected by magnesium.
Ask your doctor if you are taking any medications that will be less effective, or that may cause side effects due to magnesium supplementation. For example, thyroid medication or Neurontin, used for seizures, can be affected by magnesium.
If you are on such medications, you may need to avoid magnesium supplements, or avoid taking them at the same time.
For general supplementation, you may need to see if taking it in the morning or the night works best for you before you decide. According to commenters here at EmpowHer, some people swear that taking it at night helps them relax and sleep. Others say that it keeps them awake so they take it in the daytime, and then it helps with a good night’s sleep.
2) If you are taking medications that increase the loss of magnesium in your urine
Drugs such as diuretics, birth control pills, drugs for inflammation and digoxin may cause this to happen. See more drugs here.
Again, you may have to find the time of day to take magnesium that works for you.
3) If you are having trouble with constipation
Taking magnesium at night before bed can help relieve constipation. It may work overnight, assisting you in going to the bathroom in the morning.
4) If you have a condition that affects muscle relaxation
Taking magnesium at night may help muscles relax so you can sleep. This can be tried if you have conditions such as restless leg syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Try it during the day if muscle tightness or spasms might interfere with your activities.
5) If you have a medical condition that may lead to low magnesium levels
People with certain GI diseases like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease don’t absorb magnesium well from their gut. Other conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism or anorexia may also affect magnesium absorption.
According to Cathy Stephenson, a New Zealand GP and medical forensic examiner, symptoms of magnesium deficiency are not that common. She explains that the way the body works is, if you are not taking in enough magnesium in orally, your kidneys excrete less to try and keep the levels in balance.
If you do not have a medical condition that can cause low levels you may not need additional magnesium. Stephenson's advice is to focus on getting magnesium from your food first, and only take supplements as a backup.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues.
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Magnesium in diet. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved March 20, 2016. http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/magnesium-in-diet
2) Magnesium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved March 20, 2016. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium
3) Possible Interactions with: Magnesium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved March 20, 2016. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement-interaction/possible-interactions-with-magnesium
4) Drugs that Deplete: Magnesium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
5) Should you take magnesium pills? By Cathy Stephenson. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
6) EmpowHer: ASK: Do I take Magnesium in the am or pm?? Retrieved March 20, 2016.
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