Treating magnesium deficiency

A magnesium deficiency usually produces noticeable symptoms, which is why it is important to treat it.

PREVENTING THE EFFECTS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY THROUGH OPTIMAL TREATMENT

There are many possible causes of magnesium deficiency, known as hypomagnesemia in medical terms. Often, our body will send us clear signals to tell us that we are lacking this mineral, in the form of muscle and leg cramps, for example. Other symptoms include tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, eyelid spasms, as well as cardiac arrhythmia and high blood pressure. So it is important that we keep an eye on our magnesium levels and ensure that our magnesium stores are adequately replenished. The following information outlines how to effectively treat and prevent magnesium deficiency.

WHEN IS A MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY DIAGNOSED?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our body. About 53% is stored in our bones, 27% in our muscles, 19% in our tissues and less than 1% in our blood. A human body weighing 70 kilograms contains a total of approximately 25 grams of magnesium. Given this information, what constitutes a magnesium deficiency?

One way to check for a deficiency is to measure the level of magnesium in the blood. This is measured in millimoles per litre or mmol/l for short. A magnesium level of 0.8 to 1.1 mmol/l is considered normal. Levels below 0.8 mmol/l indicate a magnesium deficiency.

But even if a person has normal magnesium levels in the blood, they may still have a deficiency. The body has mechanisms to compensate for low levels of magnesium in the blood, such as releasing magnesium from the bones. Therefore, also the typical symptoms as well as the use of certain medications and any pre-existing diseases should be taken into account when diagnosing a magnesium deficiency.

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT A MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?

To prevent a magnesium deficiency from occurring in the first place, we need to provide our body with magnesium on an ongoing basis. Since the body cannot produce magnesium on its own, we need to obtain it from food. Daily magnesium requirements vary according to age and gender. Children between 1 and 4 years of age usually require 170 mg. As we get older, our requirements increase. Children between 15 and 19 years of age require 260 to 330 mg of magnesium daily. For adults, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily intake of 300 to 350 mg of magnesium.

Certain phases of life can also affect our magnesium levels. For example, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, mothers pass magnesium on to their babies. As a result, they tend to lose more magnesium. Exercise and stress also increase the amount of magnesium our body uses. We should therefore always keep an eye on our magnesium levels.

HOW IS MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY TREATED?

People suffering from magnesium deficiency should take high-dose magnesium to relieve acute symptoms and replenish the body's magnesium stores. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily dose of 300 mg magnesium. For acute deficiency symptoms, such as muscle and leg cramps, supplementation should be continued even after the symptoms have subsided. This is because, depending on the severity of the deficiency, it can take several weeks to replenish magnesium stores.

Taking a magnesium product with easy-to-absorb organic magnesium citrate is recommended. Magnesium citrate also occurs naturally in the body; as such, it is very easily absorbed and fast acting.

This is why nearly all Magnesium Diasporal® products contain this organic magnesium compound. A wide range of products also means that everyone can choose their preferred dosage form and decide whether they want to meet their daily requirement with a single dose or spread it out over two or three doses taken throughout the day.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KEEP IN MIND WHEN TAKING MAGNESIUM?

Timing
Magnesium can generally be taken at any time of the day or with any meal. If you suffer from leg cramps at night, it may be helpful to take magnesium in the evening before going to bed. This is because magnesium levels naturally decline slightly at night.

Tip: Whenever possible, athletes should take magnesium after exercise, as magnesium can have a laxative effect in sensitive individuals.

Interactions
People taking medications in addition to magnesium must take potential interactions into account.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS WHEN TAKING MAGNESIUM?

When first taking magnesium, you may occasionally have soft stools or even diarrhoea. This is a harmless side effect and usually resolves on its own. Supplementation can be temporarily discontinued and then resumed once the symptoms have subsided. A lower dose can be taken if necessary.
Have you taken too much magnesium? If kidney function is not impaired, any excess magnesium is excreted in the urine. This means that an oral overdose is virtually impossible. If you have any concerns, it may help to consult your doctor or pharmacist.

WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT A DOCTOR ABOUT MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?

Patients with severe kidney dysfunction or a slow heart rate (bradycardia) should only take magnesium after consulting their doctor. Some medications such as aminoglycoside antibiotics, cisplatin and cyclosporin A also lead to accelerated magnesium excretion through the kidneys. For this reason, it may be advisable or even necessary to adjust the daily magnesium dose after consulting a doctor.

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