Magnesium Supplement Review

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  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Migraine Relief
0 (Effectiveness Unclear)
Treatment of low magnesium levels
0 (Effectiveness Unclear)


  • Magnesium is one of the most common ions in the human body. It is involved in more than 300 kinds of reactions, including glucose use, fat synthesis, and muscle contraction.
  • Many people take less than the recommended dietary allowance. Large amounts of magnesium are found in spices, nuts, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea, and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are also rich in magnesium.
  • Low magnesium levels are often seen with malnutrition, or with the rise of diuretic medicines, which can cause excessive losses of magnesium.
  • Magnesium, when delivered by the intravenous route, has shown benefits in treating irregular heart rhythms, asthma and some pregnancy-related problems. This situation is usually a medical emergency and the doses are different than those used for supplements.
  • Clinical trials examining magnesium for the prevention of migraine headaches have shown mixed results. Some trials have shown improvement while others have performed only about the same as placebo (which itself can have a significant beneficial effect).


  • Magnesium prevents the small intestine from absorbing many medications.
  • The major side effect of magnesium is diarrhea, which is more common the higher the dose.
  • The benefits of magnesium supplementation in people with low intake are unclear. Most magnesium is stored inside cells, so blood tests are not a good way to check total body levels of magnesium.

Magnesium can bind and prevent the absorption of many medications. Consult your healthcare provider if you take a magnesium supplement. Anyone with renal failure should avoid magnesium supplementation.

DOSAGE:Dosing depends on the indication for which magnesium is being used. It also depends on the type of magnesium used, such as magnesium sulfate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium glycinate, to name a few. Check with your healthcare provider for an appropriate dose.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that while magnesium appears promising for these indications, there is not enough evidence to support its use. Magnesium is an important ion involved in many biological reactions in the body. A diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish should be used as the primary means of meeting the daily magnesium requirement. It would make sense to consider oral magnesium supplements only if you eat a diet that is high in processed foods or if you are taking medications, like diuretics, that can waste magnesium. Some people might benefit from taking magnesium on a daily basis to prevent migraine headaches. Consult your healthcare provider.

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Dickinson, H.O. et al. Magnesium supplementation for the management of primary hypertension in adults (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration (2009) 3
Jee, S.H. et al. The Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. American Journal of Hypertension (2002) 15:691-696
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Pfaffenrath, V. et al. Magnesium in the prophylaxis of migraine – a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia (1996) 16: 436-40
Wang, F. et al. Oral Magnesium Oxide Prophylaxis of Frequent Migrainous Headache in Children: A randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Headache (2003) 43:601-610

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