Magnesium is an abundant and essential element in the body as well as many of the foods we eat, and is found to be a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Magnesium is responsible for regulating critical biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from protein synthesis and blood glucose control, to blood pressure regulation and muscle function. While a magnesium deficiency in the body can result in symptoms such as personality changes, fatigue and weakness, and even seizures, taking a magnesium supplement can not only aid in reversing these symptoms, but provides a myriad of benefits as well. However, if you’re reading this, you probably already know what those benefits are.
How Much Magnesium Should I Take?
Like most medications and supplements, the recommended dosage amount is contingent on age. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily intake is broken out by both age and sex:
- For adult and teenage men: 270-400 milligrams per day is recommended
- For adult and teenage women: 280-300 milligrams per day is recommended
- For pregnant women: 320 milligrams per day is recommended
- For breast-feeding women: 340-355 milligrams per day is recommended
- For children between 7-10 years: 170 milligrams per day is recommended
- For children between 4-6 years: 120 milligrams per day is recommended
- For children between 0-3 years: 40-80 milligrams per day is recommended
Most medical professionals advise that magnesium be taken every day without any missed doses if used to treat a deficiency. The Mayo Clinic also notes that since taking magnesium supplements may cause diarrhea if taken on an empty stomach, doses are best administered with food. We will explore the correct times to take magnesium supplements below.
When to Take Magnesium
There are several considerations to think about regarding when to take magnesium, some of which are related to what you are taking magnesium for. Additionally, there are other medications that both aid with the absorption of magnesium, and some that decrease its effectiveness, so these facts should be taken into consideration when determining when to supplement as well. Based on your reasoning for incorporating magnesium into your daily routine as a supplement, here are the best times during the day that you should be supplementing.
When to Take Magnesium for Sleep
Research has shown that taking a daily dose of magnesium helps to regulate the nervous system, which in turn minimizes sleep problems that might otherwise stem from a magnesium deficiency. Furthermore, this regulatory aid also helps to reduce irritability and lack of concentration during waking hours, which is why it is used by many individuals world-wide as a helpful sleep agent.
Although some literature recommends taking magnesium supplements between 1-2 hours before bedtime, one study on older adults showed that by breaking up dosing to two times per day, better quality sleep was observed in the group who took magnesium supplementation. It is important to note that in this study, a relatively high dose of 500 milligrams was taken per day, which means each participant took 250 milligrams in the morning, and 250 milligrams about 1-2 hours before bed. It is also important to point out that the study controlled for extraneous factors such as caffeine intake, so if you are hoping to use magnesium as an effective sleep aid, make sure to limit the amount of caffeine you consume in the later half of the day.
When to Take Magnesium for Bone Health
Magnesium is involved in bone formation and the regulatory systems that control bone density, which is why many individuals take it to help prevent age-related osteoporosis (the weakening of bone density throughout the body). If left untreated, osteoporosis can result in increased bone fractures and breakage, and unfortunately this condition is common in the majority of aging people. Research has displayed evidence in support of magnesium’s benefits on reducing the signs of lowered bone density, which could potentially reduce fractures and breakages resulting from conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Although a decent amount of research exists that supports the fact that magnesium can benefit bone health, there is not a lot of evidence that points to the timing of doses as a critical factor. One study points out that a magnesium-deficient diet can be a significant accelerator for diseases such as osteoporosis, so one way to ensure you are getting the bone-health benefits from magnesium is to simply increase your intake of the element through magnesium-rich foods. For example, foods such as Swiss Chard, Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds, and even Dark Chocolate fall into this category. When taking it as a supplement, doses could also be split up during the day to be taken with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This reduces the possibility of experiencing diarrhea when taking magnesium on an empty stomach, and aids with the absorption of the element.
When to Take Magnesium for Depression
Since magnesium plays a significant role in aiding with the brain’s normal functioning, it is not a surprise that this element is also linked to regulating and boosting mood. In fact, research has shown a significant association between low magnesium intake and depression, particularly in younger adults. When taking it as a supplement to reduce the symptoms of depression, one study displayed that adults who took 125-300 milligrams (depending on sex and age) with each meal and at bedtime saw the most rapid recovery from depression linked to magnesium deficiency. These results are similar to those found around taking magnesium to increase bone density, supporting the idea that supplementation should be broken up throughout the day and taken with meals.
When to Take Magnesium for Diabetes Prevention
Multiple studies reveal the benefits magnesium can have on preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. In fact, research has shown that people who have a low intake of magnesium have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes. One study on participants who were prospectively examined for incident diabetes collected detailed data on the intake of the foods these individuals were consuming, and subsequently measured blood markers that indicate the development of diabetes. Researchers concluded that among the observed associations between magnesium intake and predisposition to diabetes was diet, particularly the consumption of whole grains, nuts, fruits, legumes, and vegetables. This means that participants who consumed diets high in magnesium were observed to have lower likelihood of diabetes development. So, when taking magnesium to prevent diabetes, it is generally recommended to improve one’s diet as well, increasing the natural intake of magnesium through whole foods.
When to Take Magnesium to Boost Exercise Performance
Magnesium supplementation is used by many athletes as well to help boost physical performance. Research even has shown that depending on the exercise, the body may utilize between 10-20% more magnesium compared to resting periods, which is why sufficient magnesium intake can be so important to optimize physical output. One study observed that when taken twice daily with food, magnesium therapy over the course of 6 months revealed beneficial effects on exercise sustainability and tolerance.
When to Take Magnesium to Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to its benefits on boosting physical output, another common reason people supplement with magnesium is due to its observed effects on lowering blood pressure. Research has shown that regular supplementation can reduce ambulatory blood pressure in participants with mild hypertension, however it can also be used by individuals without hypertension to help regulate blood pressure throughout the day. One study found that when participants took 150 milligram magnesium supplements twice a day – one in the morning when waking up and one right before going to sleep, the magnesium lowered blood pressure in healthy adults with higher blood pressure.
Magnesium supplementation has also shown significant anti-inflammatory and migraine-preventing benefits in a multitude of studies. Due to these critical uses, you may find that magnesium is a supplement you should incorporate into your daily routine, or you should consider consuming more foods that are naturally abundant in magnesium. With regard to timing, most studies have revealed magnesium to be most effective when broken up throughout the day, normally taken with food in the morning and evening.
Many medical professionals note that certain nutrients such as vitamin D can deplete magnesium levels, so if you are taking a vitamin D supplement, it is important to take magnesium as well. Other nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus can have this effect on magnesium levels as well.
If you are already taking other prescription medications, check to see if there are any possible interactions with magnesium first before deciding to supplement. For example, taking magnesium with many types of antibiotics can be potentially harmful, according to RXList. Other prescriptions to treat diabetes and high blood pressure are also known to interact with magnesium, so be sure to check with your doctor first if you are taking any of these medications.