You need magnesium for strong bones and for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body, such as normal nerve and muscle function, steady heart rhythm, healthy immune system, blood sugar regulation and protein synthesis. Magnesium also plays a role in energy metabolism. This mineral may be implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome and is proven to play a role in some cases of insomnia. Consult a doctor before supplementing with magnesium.
Insomnia is one cause of fatigue. Due to its role in your nervous system, magnesium is sometimes helpful for age-related insomnia. Having low magnesium levels contributes to insomnia because magnesium affects sleep-related neuroendocrine functions and alters electroencephalogram, or EEG, sleep patterns, according to “Herbs and Nutrients for the Mind,” by Chris D. Meletis and Jason E. Barker. Magnesium therapy also may be useful if you suffer insomnia due to a mild case of restless legs syndrome, notes a study published in August 1998 in “Sleep.” If you have primary insomnia, a combination of magnesium, zinc and melatonin appears helpful for improving sleep, concludes a study published in the January 2011 issue of “The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.”
Low blood levels of magnesium appear correlated with chronic fatigue syndrome, according to a study published in March 1991 in “The Lancet.” Lead study author I.M. Cox notes that subjects with low blood levels of magnesium who were given supplemental magnesium gained improved energy levels, reduced pain and a better emotional state. Blood levels of magnesium went from low to normal among study subjects taking supplemental magnesium. While this finding points to magnesium playing a role in chronic fatigue syndrome, more study is needed, according to Cox.
Insufficient magnesium in your diet can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness. Other early signs of a deficiency include nausea and appetite loss. Signs of a more long-term deficiency include numbness and tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, personality changes and coronary spasms. You may need extra magnesium if you take certain medications such as diuretics, have poorly controlled diabetes, are an alcoholic, have a malabsorption problem such as gluten sensitivity or Crohn’s disease, have low blood levels of calcium and potassium, or are a senior citizen, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. Consult a doctor to determine whether you need supplements if you suspect you have low magnesium levels, and to determine whether supplementation is safe for you because magnesium can interact with numerous medications.
Also consult a doctor before supplementing with magnesium to combat fatigue. Taking too much supplementary magnesium, in fact, may cause lethargy and weakness. It also may mimic symptoms of a deficiency. You may experience difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, appetite loss and gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. The tolerable upper intake level for magnesium is 350 milligrams a day.
- “Herbs and Nutrients for the Mind”; Chris D. Meletis, Jason E. Barker; 2004
- “The Essential Herb Drug Vitamin Interaction Guide”; George T. Grossberg, Barry Fox; 2007
- U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- “Sleep”; Magnesium Therapy for Periodic Leg Movements-Related Insomnia and Restless Legs Syndrome; M. Hornyak, et al.; August 1998
- “The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society”; The Effect of Melatonin, Magnesium, and Zinc on Primary Insomnia in Long-Term Care Facility Residents in Italy; M. Rondanelli, et al.; January 2011
- “The Lancet”; Red Blood Cell Magnesium and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; I.M. Cox, et al.; March 1991
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.