There’s a lot of online chatter about magnesium supplements. The trend has been lauded across TikTok for its potential health benefits.

“If you had to sum it up, magnesium does kind of just relax things,” Joel Totoro, a registered dietician, told USA Today. “It’s needed to relax muscles. We tend to recommend people take their dose before bed just because it does relax the brain.”

Research shows magnesium can benefit heart health, mood and relieve migraines. Here is a guide to magnesium: signs of deficiency, benefits, drawbacks and how much to take.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Most people can get enough magnesium through their diet, so magnesium deficiency is rare. But some conditions can lead to a magnesium deficiency, such as: gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, pancreatitis, thyroid imbalance and kidney disease, per Mount Sinai.

Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Irritability.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Confusion.

Incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet is a simple way to beat magnesium deficiency. According to the Cleveland Health Clinic, the following foods are an excellent dietary source of magnesium:

  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Spinach.
  • Almonds.
  • Peanuts.
  • Cashews.
  • Black beans.
  • Edamame.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Brown rice.

Benefits of magnesium supplements

1. Supports better sleep

Magnesium supplements are earning a reputation for aiding in healthy sleep. More research is needed to determine how magnesium effects sleep, but early research suggests it could combat insomnia and improve sleep, per Cleveland Health Clinic.

“Researchers believe magnesium may promote better sleep in various ways, such as reducing the stress hormone cortisol, increasing a sleep-promoting hormone called melatonin, and helping to regulate neurotransmitters for the central nervous system (CNS),” reports Medical News Today.

A 2022 study published by the Sleep Research Society examined the impact of magnesium supplements on sleep in nearly 4,000 adults. Researchers found that taking magnesium supplements improved sleep quality and duration.

Easing restless leg syndrome is another sleep-related benefit of magnesium. Research suggests that magnesium may improve insomnia caused by symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

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2. May improve bone health

Magnesium is essential to bone growth. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in more than 73,600 postmenopausal women, a lower consumption of magnesium was associated with lower bone mineral density.

“Magnesium is a component of bone; in fact 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone. It is also involved with the activity of bone-building cells and the parathyroid hormone, which regulates calcium levels,” reports Harvard Health. “Population studies have found an association of greater bone mineral density in men and women with higher magnesium diets.”

3. Might aid in fighting anxiety and depression

Observational studies (2018, 2013) have shown that magnesium supplements can aid in easing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as boosting overall mood.

“Magnesium assists with neurological pathways that, when not functioning correctly, are believed to lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety,” per Harvard Health.

A clinical trial, published in the journal PLoS One, noted a link between magnesium deficiency and symptoms of depression. For a duration of six weeks, researchers asked more than 125 participants to take daily magnesium supplements. Participants reported improved mood and decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.

4. Relieves migraines and headaches

Taking magnesium supplements may relieve or prevent migraines and headaches — especially if you are magnesium deficient. A 2020 study reports that people who are magnesium deficient are more likely to experience migraines and taking magnesium supplements may aid in prevention.

“Research suggests that magnesium supplements may shorten the duration of a migraine and reduce the amount of medication needed,” according to Mount Sinai. “People who have migraine headaches tend to have lower levels of magnesium compared to those with tension headaches or no headaches at all.”

A 12-week study published in the journal of Headache Pain found that when people who suffer from migraines took daily magnesium supplements, they experienced 42% less migraines. Their migraines were also less severe.

5. Heart-healthy

Research links magnesium deficiency to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including congestive heart failure and cardiovascular mortality.

Magnesium may also aid in preventing hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a risk factor for heart disease. “High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure,” reports Harvard Health. “Studies have shown an association with magnesium deficiency and high blood pressure.”

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Magnesium supplement drawbacks

Overdosing on magnesium is rare but some side effects can occur, per the Mayo Clinic. If you experience any of the following symptoms after taking magnesium supplements, contact a medical professional.

Symptoms of a magnesium overdose:

  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Severe drowsiness.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • Flushing.
  • Diarrhea.

How much magnesium should you take?

Healthy doses of magnesium varies between individuals. Age and gender play a role in how much magnesium you should take per day.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following daily magnesium doses:

  • Adult and teenage men: 270 to 400 milligrams.
  • Adult and teenage women: 280 to 300 milligrams.
  • Pregnant women: 320 milligrams.
  • Breast-feeding women: 340 to 355 milligrams.
  • Children ages 7-10: 170 milligrams.
  • Children ages 4-6: 120 milligrams.
  • Children 3 and younger: 40 to 80 milligrams.

For true magnesium deficiency, contact a physician to receive a prescription based on the severity of the deficiency.