Does Magnesium Have Side Effects?

Magnesium is one of the most fundamental elements for our health, playing a part in approximately 300 different bodily functions. You can get magnesium through a balanced diet or through certain supplements, but supplements may not suit everyone. How can you tell if you shouldn’t take magnesium supplements? We’ll answer this question and many more throughout this article, so let’s get started!

Key Ideas

  • Magnesium is a fundamental element involved in various processes in the human body. It helps us keep our muscles, nerves, and heart functioning, as well as providing support to the immune system.
  • Magnesium supplements can help you increase the levels of this mineral in your bloodstream. However, a healthy diet always ought to be the first step when trying to maintain optimal magnesium levels.
  • Certain individuals may experience adverse effects when taking magnesium supplements. It’s important to ask your doctor before beginning any treatment, especially if you belong to an at-risk group.

What You Need to Know About Magnesium’s Side Effects

We can ingest magnesium through our diet and/or through supplements. Normally, the magnesium in food does not produce any adverse effects. However, mineral supplements may be harmful if taken by people highly sensitive to them. If you suffer from any of these conditions, take care before trying supplement products:

Pre-Existing ConditionPossible Side Effects
Renal Insufficiency (Kidney Problems)Magnesium accumulation in the bloodstream; magnesium poisoning
Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Blockage)Worsening of heart blockage
Drug InteractionsAltering medications’ effects
Combined Use with Calcium SupplementsNegative effects on bones and organs
AllergiesSkin redness, itching, and inflammation; breathing problems

Renal Insufficiency

The kidneys are in charge of deciding what stays in our bloodstream and what gets expelled. When we build up an excess of a substance, the kidneys make sure it gets discarded through urine (1). When we develop kidney problems, they lose the ability to properly remove certain substances from our blood. As such, substances can accumulate in our bodies, producing unwanted symptoms and affecting our internal organs (2). This type of reaction could occur with magnesium, since this element is regularly eliminated through urine. Increasing magnesium consumption may bring side effects if you suffer from kidney problems. Remember: only take magnesium supplements if your physician has approved them!

It’s important to ask your doctor before beginning any treatment, especially if you belong to an at-risk group. (Source: Online marketing: hIgeoQjS_iE/ Unsplash.com)

Heart Blockage

Magnesium helps the heart beat consistently and regularly. However, increasing magnesium intake could affect that regularity in people with certain conditions (3). Heart blockages come about when the heart loses its rhythm or “skips” a few beats. Electrical signals make the heart beat, and when they have difficulty passing through the body, blockages are the result  (4). Taking magnesium could worsen heart blockages, or even cause them in people with other pre-existing heart conditions (5). Use precaution when trying supplements!

Drug Interactions

The medications we take travel out of our digestive systems through our bodies, eventually reaching the intended organs. In some situations, combining magnesium with other medications may hinder the medicine’s absorption in the intestines, weakening its effects. These medications should not be combined with magnesium supplements (6):

  1. Tetracyclines: Antibiotics which may be used to treat skin, eye, and respiratory infections (7).
  2. Quinolones: Antibiotics which can treat a wide range of bacterial infections (8).
  3. Biphosphonates: Medications which prevent loss of bone density (which typically occurs in osteoporosis and bone cancer) (9).

It is possible that more medications than these may interact with magnesium. As such, ask your doctor before taking supplements if you’re on any sort of medical treatment.

Combining magnesium with other medications may hinder the medicine’s absorption in the intestines. (Source: Mereckas: 1TL8AoEDj_c/ Unsplash.com)

Combined Use with Calcium Supplements

Calcium is incredibly important for our bone structure, as well as the functioning of many internal organs and systems. Magnesium is a great ally of calcium, aiding calcium’s transport through the body and its absorption (10). However, all substances are harmful in excess. Overconsumption of food high in calcium or calcium supplements, when combined with magnesium, may cause harm. You may observe these symptoms when an excess of calcium builds up in your bloodstream (11):

  • First signs: Increased thirst, increased need to urinate, and stomach pain
  • Kidney stone formation
  • Alterations to normal bone structure
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Digestive distress including nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Fainting

Check with your doctor right away if you begin experiencing these symptoms.

Allergic Reactions

Allergies to magnesium supplements are rare, but they can happen. As such, it’s important to distinguish between the magnesium we eat in food and the magnesium we take in supplements:

Magnesium Found in Food

  • There are no known cases of allergies to the magnesium in food. Even if you’re allergic to some forms of magnesium, you won’t have reactions to foods which contain this mineral in its natural form.
  • On the other hand, you may be allergic to foods which happen to contain magnesium, but these allergies will not be related to the mineral. This may be the case with peanut butter, almonds, or dairy, which many people are allergic to or intolerant of.
  • Your body requires daily consumption of foods high in magnesium. If you have allergies to some of those foods, a nutritionist will be your best bet; they can create a diet individualised for your health needs.

Magnesium in Supplements or Topical Products

  • Some products which contain magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) or magnesium chloride (magnesium crystals) may cause allergic reactions (12, 13).
  • These allergic reactions may be the result of taking supplements, externally applying products, or even going to certain beaches which are rich in magnesium salts.
  • Allergic reactions may present as skin redness, itchiness, or swelling. It may even present as difficulty breathing (14).
  • If you experience any side effects, stop your use of magnesium and contact your doctor or go to the nearest health clinic right away.
Your body requires daily consumption of foods high in magnesium. (Source: Ignacio: cJ8KnKU247s/ Unsplash.com)

How to Take Magnesium Safely

Magnesium is essential if we want our bodies to function in top shape. That’s hardly surprising, since it’s involved in approximately 300 bodily processes. If you want to enjoy magnesium’s full benefits, here’s some helpful advice!

Recommended Dosage

The daily amount of magnesium you require may vary according to your age and gender. It will also vary if you’re pregnant or have certain pre-existing conditions. To simplify, however, adults should not exceed a daily dosage of 350 milligrams of magnesium in supplements. If you take too much magnesium, there may be unwanted effects for your heart and brain (15, 16).

Traditional Vs. Liposomal Magnesium

Until quite recently, if you wanted to include a magnesium supplement in your diet, you would have had to settle for traditional pills or powder packets. Magnesium in those traditional forms has various side effects including stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion. Fortunately, recent years have seen the development of a new format for magnesium supplements. Sundt Nutrition’s liposomal magnesium, for example, is a product which “packages” this micronutrient inside liposomes. Liposomes are compounds which may be imagined as “bubbles”, with a similar structure to our own cells. What do we gain from encapsulating magnesium in liposomes? Nothing less than full protection of the magnesium while it’s absorbed – which prevents it from affecting our intestines. As such, the likelihood of digestive side effects is greatly reduced. After that, the mineral travels through the body more easily, passing into the bloodstream to carry out its beneficial effects.

Products to Avoid

Not all magnesium supplements are high-quality or effective. Avoid any product which:

  • Is poorly labeled
  • Does not list its ingredients
  • Does not come in sealed packaging
  • Is homemade
  • Comes from untrustworthy websites

Vegan and Vegetarian Products

If you’re vegan or vegetarian and looking to try magnesium supplements, you’re in luck! This mineral usually comes from natural sources and can be derived from vegan foods. However, you can ensure that your supplements are fully compliant with your diet by:

  • Avoiding products that combine magnesium and collagen. There are plenty of these on the market, but collagen is an animal product.
  • Being careful about capsules. Quite often, capsules are made from gelatin (which is an animal product).
  • When you use topical magnesium products like bath salts, make sure they’re labeled as cruelty-free and have not been tested on animals.
  • Products that are vegan will almost always say so! Just make sure it’s a trustworthy product appropriately labeled.

Our liposomal magnesium is made with 100% natural ingredients which are perfect for vegan and vegetarian diets.

Supplements for People with Food Allergies

Shopping for supplements can often be difficult when you’re allergic to certain ingredients. But don’t worry! Here are our tips:

  • Manufacturers are required to list ingredients like gluten, lactose, and nuts on their packaging. If you’re allergic to ingredients like these, the product will tell you whether it contains any traces.
  • Always check the ingredient list if you’re unsure whether a product contains an ingredient you’re allergic or intolerant to.
  • Avoid products which lack an ingredient list.
  • Never take expired products.
  • Always ask a doctor or pharmacist to choose the best supplement for you.

One of the safest magnesium supplements for people with special dietary needs is Optinerve® liposomal magnesium. It’s sugar-free, gluten-free, and contains no additives or GMOs.


Our Conclusions

Magnesium offers incredible health benefits, and we need optimal levels in our bloodstream to stay well. However, take proper precautions before taking magnesium supplements, since they may affect some people negatively. The best magnesium supplements are those which the body absorbs more easily, leading to fewer adverse effects. To choose a supplement properly, make sure you’ve done your research and checked with a healthcare professional. Did you learn anything new about magnesium’s possible side effects? Share this article to spread the knowledge, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

References(21)

  1. Pérez González E., Santos Rodríguez F., Coto García E. Homeostasis del magnesio: Etiopatogenia, clínica y tratamiento de la hipomagnesemia. A propósito de un caso. Nefrología (Madr.) [Internet]. 2009; 29(6): 518-524.
  2. Tapia H, Mora C, Navarro J. Magnesio en la Enfermedad Renal Crónica. Sociedad Española de Nefrología. 2007.
  3. Dinicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O’Keefe JH. Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Open Heart. 2018;5(2).
  4. Bloqueo cardíaco: MedlinePlus enciclopedia médica [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2020.
  5. Thanthulage S, Stacey S. Magnesium sulphate and ischaemic heart disease. British Journal of Anaesthesia. 2006;96(3):403–4.
  6. Magnesio [Internet]. Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios. 2020.
  7. Tetraciclina: MedlinePlus medicinas [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine
  8. Alós J-I. Quinolones [Internet]. Enfermedades infecciosas y microbiología clínica. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2009.
  9. Tratamiento con Bifosfonatos [Internet]. rheumatology.org. 2019
  10. Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, Maier J. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients. 2013;5(8):3022–33.
  11. Hipercalcemia [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
  12. Sulfato de magnesio, sulfato de potasio y sulfato de sodio: MedlinePlus medicinas [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  13. Sales de magnesio (carbonato fosfato óxido de magnesio) [Internet]. Sales de magnesio (carbonato fosfato óxido de magnesio) | Asociación Española de Pediatría. 2016.
  14. Jr. JMT, Katz VL, Campbell D, Cefalo RC. Hypersensitivity to magnesium sulfate. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1989;161(4):889–90
  15. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesio [Internet]. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2020.
  16. Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; 2020.
  17. Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie S, Byng M. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res. 2003;16(3):183-191.
  18. PubChem [Internet]. Magnesium chloride. National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2004.
  19. Uysal N, Kizildag S, Yuce Z, et al. Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: ¿Which Magnesium Compound Works Best? Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019;187(1):128-136.
  20. Ferreira I, Ortigoza Á, Moore P. Magnesium and malic acid supplement for fibromyalgia. Suplemento de magnesio y ácido málico para fibromialgia. Medwave. 2019;19(4): e7633. Published 2019.
  21. National Center for Biotechnology Information [Internet]. Threonic acid. PubChem Compound Summary.
Previous Food and Vitamins: Which Foods Are Most Nutritious? Next Discover the Skin Benefits of Vitamin E!
Scientific article
Pérez González E., Santos Rodríguez F., Coto García E. Homeostasis del magnesio: Etiopatogenia, clínica y tratamiento de la hipomagnesemia. A propósito de un caso. Nefrología (Madr.) [Internet]. 2009; 29(6): 518-524.
Go to source
Scientific article
Tapia H, Mora C, Navarro J. Magnesio en la Enfermedad Renal Crónica. Sociedad Española de Nefrología. 2007.
Go to source
Scientific article
Dinicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O’Keefe JH. Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Open Heart. 2018;5(2).
Go to source
Official website
Bloqueo cardíaco: MedlinePlus enciclopedia médica [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2020.
Go to source
Scientific article
Thanthulage S, Stacey S. Magnesium sulphate and ischaemic heart disease. British Journal of Anaesthesia. 2006;96(3):403–4.
Go to source
Technical data sheet
Magnesio [Internet]. Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios. 2020.
Go to source
Official website
Tetraciclina: MedlinePlus medicinas [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine
Go to source
Official website
Alós J-I. Quinolones [Internet]. Enfermedades infecciosas y microbiología clínica. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2009.
Go to source
Official website
Tratamiento con Bifosfonatos [Internet]. rheumatology.org. 2019
Go to source
Scientific article
Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, Maier J. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients. 2013;5(8):3022–33.
Go to source
Official website
Hipercalcemia [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
Go to source
Official website
Sulfato de magnesio, sulfato de potasio y sulfato de sodio: MedlinePlus medicinas [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Go to source
Official website
Sales de magnesio (carbonato fosfato óxido de magnesio) [Internet]. Sales de magnesio (carbonato fosfato óxido de magnesio) | Asociación Española de Pediatría. 2016.
Go to source
Clinical cases
Jr. JMT, Katz VL, Campbell D, Cefalo RC. Hypersensitivity to magnesium sulfate. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1989;161(4):889–90
Go to source
Official website
Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesio [Internet]. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2020.
Go to source
Official website
Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; 2020.
Go to source
Study in humans
Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie S, Byng M. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res. 2003;16(3):183-191.
Go to source
Scientific article
PubChem [Internet]. Magnesium chloride. National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2004.
Go to source
Study on rats
Uysal N, Kizildag S, Yuce Z, et al. Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: ¿Which Magnesium Compound Works Best? Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019;187(1):128-136.
Go to source
Scientific article
Ferreira I, Ortigoza Á, Moore P. Magnesium and malic acid supplement for fibromyalgia. Suplemento de magnesio y ácido málico para fibromialgia. Medwave. 2019;19(4): e7633. Published 2019.
Go to source
Scientific article
National Center for Biotechnology Information [Internet]. Threonic acid. PubChem Compound Summary.
Go to source