The mineral magnesium is important for controlling blood-sugar and blood pressure levels. You get some of the micronutrient every time you eat foods, such as beans, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate. But magnesium is a sensitive little mineral. It can be depleted when food is processed — that means your body might not get enough especially if you eat a lot of processed foods.
Magnesium supplements could help increase your body’s stores of magnesium and might also help reduce muscle and migraine pain. One type of magnesium supplement — magnesium glycinate — has become especially popular lately and has been touted in media as better than other magnesium salts. But is it?
What is magnesium glycinate?
Magnesium glycinate is a supplement made from a combination of the mineral magnesium and an amino acid known as glycine. It’s available in tablet, gummy and powder forms.
- Magnesium is critical to keeping you healthy. It helps your body regulate nerve and muscle function, blood sugar levels and inflammation. It also plays a part in making bone, protein and DNA.
- Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that can be found in high-protein foods like meat and beans. Glycine has antioxidant properties and is important for mental health.
With credentials like that, it’s easy to see why taking magnesium glycinate supplements could have health benefits. But further research is needed before it can be called a cure to everything from constipation to low energy levels.
What are the side effects of magnesium glycinate?
Magnesium supplements are typically well tolerated, especially when you take the supplement in small doses. However, if you ingest high doses of any magnesium supplement, you might experience side effects, such as diarrhea, gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting and worse. If too much magnesium builds up in your body, as can happen if you have kidney disease, you can have serious side effects.
Magnesium glycinate may have fewer gastrointestinal side effects than other magnesium supplements. So magnesium glycinate might be easier to tolerate in someone who had diarrhea while taking magnesium or who already deals with loose bowel movements.
Talk to your healthcare team before taking a magnesium supplement, especially if you have kidney disease, are pregnant, or are taking other medications.
How could magnesium glycinate affect anxiety and sleep?
While magnesium is often marketed to help with relaxation, sleep and mood, it hasn’t been proven in human studies.
Magnesium, in any form, might help with anxiety and depression. Magnesium is necessary to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter recognized that affects mental health and mood. It also affects brain biochemistry, influencing systems that play a role in the development of depression.
How does magnesium help your body?
Magnesium is essential for more than 300 enzyme systems that contribute to biochemical reactions in your body.
Magnesium is important for:
- Energy production.
- Blood pressure regulation.
- Normal heart rhythm.
- DNA and RNA creation.
- Bone structure development.
- Nervous system regulation.
What can a magnesium deficiency do to your body?
Almost half of people in the U.S. don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. So magnesium glycinate could help increase your magnesium stores. Most people don’t notice any symptoms of short-term magnesium deficiency because the kidneys do a good job of retaining magnesium when necessary.
However, some people are more at risk for magnesium deficiency, including older people and people with:
Certain medications can also impact your magnesium levels. For example, hydrochlorothiazide — a common treatment for high blood pressure — and medications used to manage heartburn and reflux called proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, others) can increase risk for magnesium deficiency.
If you’re low in magnesium, you might experience fatigue, weakness, nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, muscle cramps and trouble sleeping.
What is the recommended dosage for magnesium?
The recommended daily dosage depends on your gender and age:
- For men: 400 mg for ages 19 to 30, 420 mg for ages 31 and older
- For women: 310 mg for ages 19 to 30, 320 mg for ages 31 and older
- For children: 80 mg for ages 1 to 3 years, 130 mg for ages 4 to 8 years, 240 mg for ages 9 to 13 years
- For teens: 410 mg for males ages 14 to 18 years, 360 mg for females ages 14 to 18 years.
Pregnancy, other medications, diet and various other factors can change your recommended amount of magnesium. Be sure to talk to your healthcare team about the right dose for your situation.
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