Magnesium is an important mineral that is vital for the body to function correctly. While a lack of magnesium can result in many health problems, such as nausea, anxiety and muscle cramps, consuming too much magnesium can also affect our health. So, how is it possible to take too much magnesium and what are the symptoms to look out for?
What Is A Magnesium Overdose?
In regular quantities, magnesium is highly beneficial. However, an overdose of magnesium can occur when excess amounts are contained in the body. For the majority of people, excess levels of minerals are removed via the kidneys, but there may be certain situations when this isn’t possible.
The Causes Of Magnesium Overdose Or Toxicity
The body naturally excretes extra minerals that you consume, thus, it is rare for magnesium toxicity to occur. Those with kidney problems are high at risk from a mineral overdose as they’re unable to eliminate excess amounts. Furthermore, older people are also at risk as they may confuse dosage amounts. Taking high levels of magnesium supplements alongside Epsom salts and foods naturally rich in magnesium may cause you to consume too much.
The recommended daily amount of magnesium for adult women is up to 320mg depending on age and up to 420mg for a male adult (1).
Symptoms Of Magnesium Toxicity
One of the first signs of too much magnesium in your body is diarrhoea due to the laxative effects of the mineral. Other related signs can be an upset stomach or vomiting, as well as a loss of appetite.
A severe plummet in your blood pressure is often associated with magnesium toxicity. Too much magnesium leads to slower or erratic heart rhythms and extremely high levels of magnesium in your blood has been linked to causing cardiac arrest.
Shallow breathing is a potential symptom of too much magnesium. When your breathing becomes shallow, low blood oxygen could occur. Oxygen is essential for the cells in the body to function correctly. If low blood oxygen takes place, you could become confused, fatigued and have an overall shortness of breath.
Too much magnesium may cause calcium levels to be depleted as it throws other mineral levels off balance. This can then lead to several other health problems like weak bones.
Consuming too much magnesium puts the kidneys under severe pressure as this is the organ responsible for removing excess amounts of mineral from the body. Those with kidney problems should never consume magnesium supplements under directed so by a doctor.
How To Treat Magnesium Toxicity
Depending on how much magnesium is within your body, the recommended treatment will vary.
Mild toxicity will likely require supplement and laxative use to be discontinued, whereas high levels of toxicity will require immediate medical treatment. This may include breathing support, calcium injections, dialysis or stomach pumping, depending on the symptoms shown.
What To Do Before Taking Magnesium
Consuming magnesium supplements is relatively safe, especially for the majority of people. However, there are several instances when you may need to contact a doctor before supplementing your diet.
- During pregnancy – You need to consume the recommended level of nutrients during pregnancy, so it’s extremely important not to take a larger dose than required.
- When breastfeeding – Breastfeeding is required for the healthy development of your child so ensure that you’re taking the correct amount of nutrients and not any more. Large doses can be harmful.
- If you have allergies –If you suffer from allergies, ask your doctor for advice and read all labels of supplements carefully.
- If you take medication – Some medication can counteract with magnesium supplements and produce negative effects, so ask your doctor beforehand. Antacids can reduce magnesium’s laxative effects, while antibiotics may not work as effectively when consumed with magnesium. Furthermore, diabetes and high blood pressure medication, muscle relaxants, water pills and bisphosphonates can all react differently when magnesium supplements are consumed (2).
- Older adults – Older people should take magnesium supplements with care, especially if they have a diet rich in magnesium foods. A supplement is generally recommended for old age as magnesium levels tend to be lower as you grow older.
- Children – Children should consume the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which is a lower dose than adults. Children require between 30mg to 240mg daily between the ages of birth to 13 years of age (1).
- Those with health problems – Magnesium supplements can cause kidney and heart problems to increase, so ensure that you consult a doctor beforehand before supplementing your diet.
Overall, magnesium is safe to consume when taken in the correct doses. If you’re unsure as to how much you should take, try to stick to the recommended daily amounts for your age and sex as these are the minimal amounts required for you to avoid a deficiency.