Can You Build Up A Tolerance To Magnesium Supplements? We Asked An Expert
Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies need to help with everything from blood sugar regulation to energy production to protein synthesis and more.* And when we don't have enough, it can cause some nasty side effects like inflammation, cramping, and mood swings.
So the question is, can we build up a tolerance to our magnesium supplements? To find out, we asked doctor of chiropractic and functional medicine expert Stacie Stephenson, D.C., CNS.
Do magnesium supplements lose efficacy over time?
According to Stephenson, she isn't aware of any scientific research that demonstrates people building a tolerance to magnesium supplements. For example, the National Institutes of Health lists its recommended dietary allowances for magnesium intake, with no note of increasing or decreasing the amount based on how long you've been taking it.
That said, there is evidence certain mineral supplements can compete with each other for absorption, so if you feel like your magnesium supplement is suddenly not working the way it used to, take note of whether you're taking other mineral supplements (like iron or calcium) along with it. They can also interact and interfere with certain medications.
As registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Amy Kimberlain, RDN, CDCES, previously explained to mbg, "Magnesium supplements can interact and/or interfere with some medicines, i.e., bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and diuretics."
As such, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor to get a personalized recommendation. They may recommend taking your magnesium supplement by itself, or upping your intake of magnesium-rich foods, for example.
Maintaining healthy magnesium levels:
And speaking of magnesium-rich foods, even if you take a magnesium supplement, it's still a good idea to eat plenty of them. According to Stephenson, that's really the best way to maintain healthy magnesium levels.
"Your body understands how to extract magnesium from real whole food," she says, so she recommends getting both protein and magnesium from legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, and lentils, as well as loading up on dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard.
"Snack on pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pine nuts," she suggests, adding flax and chia seeds are also good sources, "and good additions to your morning smoothie." And the options don't stop there: Avocados, salmon, nonfat yogurt, bananas, kiwis, blackberries, and raspberries all have some magnesium too. And good news, chocolate lovers: "One of the richest sources [of magnesium] is dark chocolate, Stephenson says. "I recommend dark chocolate that contains 80% cocoa solids—an ounce a day is a great magnesium boost."
Why magnesium is helpful for sleep.
The deep and restorative sleep you've always dreamt about*
Taking magnesium before bed can be really helpful if you have trouble sleeping, Stephenson notes, "helping to reduce anxiety and induce a feeling of calm and mental quiet," she says.* Magnesium glycinate, she adds, "is particularly bioavailable and useful for sleeping more deeply and peacefully."*
Incorporate it into your nighttime routine, taking it around an hour before bed if you have trouble falling asleep or just before bed if you have trouble staying asleep.
The bottom line is, while it's unlikely you will build up a tolerance to your magnesium supplement, if taken alongside other minerals, there may be some absorption competition. If you feel like your supplement isn't working as well as it used to, try taking it alone and see if you notice a difference, or talk to your doctor to get their recommendation. Because there's one thing we can be sure of: Magnesium is crucial for so many bodily functions, and we want to make sure we have enough.