Food With Magnesium Sulfate


Foods with Magnesium Sulfate can range greatly, but include breads and pastries, cured meats like ham, fish and shrimp products like breaded fish sticks or imitation crab meat, cheese flavored chips, cake mixes, potato chips and many more. Magnesium Sulfate is a common ingredient in food, especially in processed and prepared foods. In some cases, it is used as a preservative for color retention, and in others, to prevent foods from spoiling.

Food With Magnesium Sulfate

  • Men: 400–420 mg
  • Women: 310–320 mg

How much magnesium is in your food?

  • Pumpkin seed – kernels: Serving Size 1 oz, 168 mg
  • Almonds, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 80 mg
  • Spinach, boiled: Serving Size ½ cup, 78 mg
  • Cashews, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds in shell: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Peanuts, oil roasted: Serving Size ¼ cup, 63 mg
  • Cereal, shredded wheat: Serving Size 2 large biscuits, 61 mg
  • Soymilk, plain or vanilla: Serving Size 1 cup, 61 mg
  • Black beans, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 60 mg
  • Edamame, shelled, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 50 mg
  • Dark chocolate -60-69% cacoa: Serving Size 1 oz, 50 mg
  • Peanut butter, smooth: Serving Size 2 tablespoons, 49 mg
  • Bread, whole wheat: Serving Size 2 slices, 46 mg
  • Avocado, cubed: Serving Size 1 cup, 44 mg
  • Potato, baked with skin: Serving Size 3.5 oz, 43 mg
  • Rice, brown, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 42 mg
  • Yogurt, plain, low fat: Serving Size 8 oz, 42 mg
  • Breakfast cereals fortified: Serving Size 10% fortification, 40 mg
  • Oatmeal, instant: Serving Size 1 packet, 36 mg
  • Kidney beans, canned: Serving Size ½ cup, 35 mg
  • Banana: Serving Size 1 medium, 32 mg
  • Cocoa powder– unsweetened: Serving Size 1 tablespoon, 27 mg
  • Salmon, Atlantic, farmed: Serving Size 3 oz, 26 mg
  • Milk: Serving Size 1 cup, 24–27 mg
  • Halibut, cooked: Serving Size 3 oz, 24 mg
  • Raisins: Serving Size ½ cup, 23 mg
  • Chicken breast, roasted: Serving Size 3 oz, 22 mg
  • Beef, ground, 90% lean: Serving Size 3 oz, 20 mg
  • Broccoli, chopped & cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 12 mg
  • Rice, white, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 10 mg
  • Apple: Serving Size 1 medium, 9 mg
  • Carrot, raw: Serving Size 1 medium, 7 mg

In general rich sources of magnesium are greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains, wheat germ, wheat and oat bran. The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adult men is 400-420 mg per day. The dietary allowance for adult women is 310-320 mg per day.

For additional information please visit The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Nutrient Database website (see References) which lists the nutrient content of many foods and where you can search a comprehensive list of foods for magnesium content.

Magnesium Sulfate – Uses.

This medication is a mineral supplement used to prevent and treat low amounts of magnesium in the blood. Some brands are also used to treat symptoms of too much stomach acid such as stomach upset, heartburn, and acid indigestion. Magnesium is very important for the normal functioning of cells, nerves, muscles, bones, and the heart. Usually, a well-balanced diet provides normal blood levels of magnesium. However, certain situations cause your body to lose magnesium faster than you can replace it from your diet. These situations include treatment with “water pills” (diuretics such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide), a poor diet, alcoholism, or other medical conditions (such as severe diarrhea/vomiting, stomach/intestinal absorption problems, poorly controlled diabetes).

How to use Magnesium Sulfate

Take this product by mouth as directed. Follow all directions on the product package. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

It is best to take magnesium supplements with a meal to reduce stomach upset and diarrhea unless otherwise directed by the product instructions or your doctor.

Take each dose with a full glass (8 ounces or 240 milliliters) of water unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Swallow extended-release capsules and delayed-release/enteric coated tablets or capsules whole. Do not crush or chew extended-release or delayed-release/enteric coated capsules or tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split extended-release tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.

If you are taking the chewable tablets, chew each tablet thoroughly before swallowing.

If you are using a liquid product, use a medication measuring device to carefully measure the dose. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. If you are using a suspension, shake the bottle well before each dose.

Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to take it at the same time(s) each day. Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take it more often than directed on the product package or by your doctor. Too much magnesium in the blood can cause serious side effects.

Tell your doctor if symptoms of low magnesium blood levels (such as muscle cramps, tiredness, irritability, depression) persist or worsen. If you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.

Magnesium sulfate - Dr. Axe

What Is Magnesium Sulfate & What Is It Used For? (+ Side Effects & Interactions)

Magnesium sulfate is one type of magnesium supplement that can help treat symptoms of magnesium deficiency like muscle cramps, fatigue and irritability — plus other common health problems, too, such as constipation.

Virtually every part of our bodies — including our cells, nerves, muscles, bones and hearts — require a steady supply of the nutrient magnesium to maintain normal functioning. Magnesium is an essential mineral, the fourth most abundant in the human body, and also an electrolyte that is present in the body in large amounts. It plays a role in numerous functions, like heart health, muscle contractions and more.

While some people are able to obtain enough magnesium from eating a healthy diet, the majority of adults are actually believed to be deficient. Having low levels of magnesium (called hypomagnesemia) can negatively affect how your nervous system, cardiovascular system and digestive systems work, which is why supplementation is now widely recommended — including magnesium sulfate supplements.

What Is Magnesium Sulfate (What Is It Used For?)

Magnesium sulfate is a type of magnesium supplement. The chemical formula for magnesium sulfate is MgSO4, meaning it can be broken down into magnesium and sulfate, which is a combination of sulfur and oxygen. 

Magnesium sulfate is available over-the-counter in a few different forms, including capsules, soaking salts and also as an IV. Another name for this product is Epsom salt, a brand name for a type of magnesium salt that seeps through the skin.

What is the mechanism of action of magnesium sulfate?

It works in several ways, such as by increasing the amount of water in the intestines, causing vasodilation (widening blood vessels and improving blood flow) and blocking the entry of calcium into synaptic endings, which alters neuromuscular transmission. It’s effective at preventing certain types of seizures and convulsions because it blocks transmission between nerves and muscles.

What is magnesium sulfate good for?

The No. 1 reason this product is recommended by health care providers is too reverse low amounts of magnesium in the blood (in other words, magnesium deficiency). Another common reason people use this type of magnesium is to treat constipation, since it works as a natural laxative. Other uses include decreasing muscle soreness, promoting relaxation and improving skin health.

According to an article in the Journal of midwifery and Women’s Health, this type of magnesium is one of the most commonly used medications in obstetric practices today.

By boosting your magnesium levels you can support vital functions, such as muscle control, energy production, electrical impulses, and regulation of calcium and vitamin D levels in the body. Not only can you soak in magnesium sulfate salts in a bath, but you can also find this product in many hair and skin care products due to its hydrating qualities.

Health Benefits and Uses

1. Helps Treat Constipation

Magnesium sulfate is used to help produce a bowel movement when someone is struggling with constipation. It usually works within 30 minutes to six hours after taking it by mouth. The most common form used for promoting a bowel movement is magnesium sulfate powder, which is mixed with water. Taking magnesium in this form has an osmotic effect and causes water to be retained in the intestinal lumen. This hydrates stools and makes it easier to pass.

A combination of sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate and magnesium sulfate can also be used to cleanse the colon before a colonoscopy. For this purpose, one serving is usually taken early in the evening before colonoscopy (10 to 12 hours before the second dose), and then another serving is taken in the morning before the test.

2. Can Relieve Muscle Tension and Pain

The body can absorb magnesium through the skin via the process of transdermal absorption. What does magnesium sulfate feel like? Adding Epsom salt to your bath can help relax your muscles, reduce inflammation and decrease joint pain, including aches associated with arthritis or bone pain.

For people who struggle with stiffness, spasms, cramps or ongoing foot pain, soaking effected body parts in a magnesium soak bath with Epsom salts can reduce discomfort and help improve range of motion, including of the ankles, knees and feet. It’s also a good option for people who experience restless leg syndrome, which can make it hard to get quality sleep.

3. Promotes Relaxation

Taking a warm bath with magnesium at night is a simple way to help relieve stress. While magnesium deficiency can increase feelings of anxiety and tension, magnesium sulfate has the opposite effect. It can boost your ability to cope with stress thanks to its effects on neural excitability and blood pressure. It may even help manage symptoms associated with depression and neuropsychiatric disorders. For those looking to unwind with help from magnesium, this homemade healing bath salts recipe is an easy way to utilize magnesium.

Can you get high off magnesium sulfate?

No, despite what some people claim on the internet, using this product will not get you “high,” but it may naturally help you feel more calm.

4. Decreases Bloating and Water Retention

Magnesium sulfate combined with water causes reverse osmosis. This pulls salt and excess fluids out of your body, helping relieve swelling. Using magnesium sulfate capsules or Epsom salts may help discourage water retention and promote elimination, decrease bloating and help to reduce edema tied to inflammation.

5. Can Help Improve Blood Sugar Levels

Magnesium deficiency is believed to be a contributing factor in metabolic syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, muscular problems and diabetes. According to Diabetes Self Management website, people with diabetes/insulin resistance are more likely than those without to be low in magnesium — plus high blood glucose levels can further increase the loss of magnesium in the urine.

6. Treats Symptoms of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia During Pregnancy

Preeclampsia and eclampsia can be life-threatening complications that sometimes lead to seizures, stroke, multiple organ failure, and death of the woman and/or baby. Magnesium sulfate has been utilized for seizure control since the 1920 and today is used via IV to prevent seizures associated with preeclampsia (pregnancy-related hypertension), and to control seizures due to eclampsia.

The Collaborative Eclampsia Trial, an international, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted in 1995, found that women treated with magnesium sulfate had about a 50 percent to 70 percent lower occurrence of convulsions than those treated with other medications, including diazepam and phenytoin. Because it can help prevent seizures during pregnancy, this treatment has also been found to reduce the risk of maternal death.

Additionally, magnesium sulfate is used to lower the risk of an unborn, preterm fetus developing neurological issues and conditions, including cerebral palsy (the leading cause of neurologic impairment in young children).

How does magnesium sulfate provide neuroprotection?

While the exact mechanism isn’t entirely understood, research suggests that magnesium can help stabilize circulation and blood pressure/blood flow to the brain and prevent excitatory injury by stabilizing neuronal membranes and blockade of excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate.

Does magnesium sulfate cause hyperreflexia (a condition in which your nervous system overreacts to stimuli and spikes blood pressure)?

No. In fact, studies have found beneficial effects of magnesium sulfate on hyperreflexia during labor in patients with spinal cord injuries. Most hyperreflexia patients receive magnesium intravenously during high-risk labor under the supervision of a doctor in order to prevent complications like changes in blood pressure and heartbeats, constriction of  blood vessels, and changes in the body’s autonomic functions and reflexes.

7. Supports Respiratory Health

Because magnesium relaxes bronchial smooth muscles and has other functions, in supplement form it can be used to manage asthma attacks and improve lung function and breathing. While it’s not typically the first treatment that will be used, magnesium sulfate is sometimes given intravenously or through a nebulizer (a type of inhaler) to treat serious and sudden asthma attacks. It’s believed to work by inhibiting calcium influx, decreasing histamine release, stopping release of chemicals that cause inflammation, inhibiting chemicals that cause muscle spasms, and by having other effects on nerves and receptors.

8. Can Improve Health of Your Skin and Hair

Is magnesium sulfate good for your skin?

Yes, it can benefit both the health of your skin and hair when used in the form of Epsom salt. According to the Environmental Working Group, it’s used as a hair conditioning agent, volumizer for hair and hydration treatment for dry skin. This type of magnesium can be found in numerous beauty, hair and skin care products, such as moisturizers, sunscreens, makeup, facial cleansers, anti-aging serums, shampoos and more.

Who Should Take It (and Who Should Not Take)?

Magnesium sulfate products are indicated for those with magnesium deficiency, especially if low magnesium levels lead to symptoms like changes in cardiovascular function, muscle spasms, headaches, etc. Obtaining adequate magnesium is important for maintaining normal function of your muscles and nerves, normal blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and for preventing serious cardiovascular and neurological problems.

Certain people can benefit from taking magnesium sulfate more than others. You may be more likely to have magnesium deficiency if:

  • You regularly use diuretics or proton pump inhibitors
  • You don’t eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and veggies
  • You have a history of alcoholism
  • You have a medical condition that causes frequent diarrhea/vomiting or stomach/intestinal absorption problems, such as inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • You have poorly controlled diabetes

Certain people should avoid using this type of magnesium product or only do so with help from their doctors, including anyone with severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, a perforated bowel, a bowel obstruction, severe constipation, colitis, toxic megacolon or neuromuscular diseases.

Make sure that magnesium sulfate supplements are safe for you to use if you have a history of diabetes, kidney disease, an eating disorder, high potassium, a neuromuscular disease or if you’ve been told to follow a low-magnesium diet.

Risks, Side Effects and Drug Interactions

Magnesium sulfate side effects can potentially include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains or indigestion
  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction, like hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, etc.
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Drowsiness
  • Edema

Is magnesium sulfate dangerous if you take too much?

Magnesium overdose is also called magnesium toxicity. It’s very important to follow dosage directions for magnesium sulfate carefully because taking or using too much can cause serious, even life-threatening side effects. Rarely serious complications can occur like respiratory paralysis, hypothermia, low blood pressure, changes in cardiac function, and dangerous changes in potassium and calcium levels in the blood.

What is the first sign of magnesium toxicity?

Some include changes in your breathing, slowed reflexes, dizziness due to low blood pressure and digestive issues like nausea.

Magnesium sulfate can interact with many medications, including certain antibiotics, thyroid medications, bisphosphonates and tetracycline drugs. In order to prevent drug interactions, avoid taking other medicines within two hours before or after you take magnesium sulfate.

Is it safe to use magnesium sulfate in pregnancy?

Sometimes administration of magnesium sulfate is used off-label to treat preterm labor, which some studies show is safe, although there’s still risks involved. This use of magnesium sulfate is off-label, which means that it is not an FDA-approved use of the drug. According to the FDA, “Administration of magnesium sulfate injection to pregnant women longer than 5–7 days may lead to low calcium levels and bone problems in the developing baby or fetus, including thin bones, called osteopenia, and bone breaks, called fractures.”

While most magnesium supplements can be safely taken by pregnant women, it’s not exactly known whether taking magnesium sulfate for more than five to seven days or on an ongoing basis during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is safe. Generally speaking it should only be used when clearly needed and when other products are not effective. It’s usually best to use other forms of magnesium in low doses while pregnant to avoid side effects.

Magnesium supplements shouldn’t be used in place of medications that are prescribed for you by your doctor. Always talk to your doctor if you notice potentially serious side effects, like rectal bleeding, changes in heartbeat rhythms, etc. If magnesium sulfate doesn’t cause a bowel movement within one to two days, stop taking it and visit your doctor to rule out other health problems.

Use caution when taking high doses of magnesium in order to prevent magnesium sulfate toxicity. Always get help if you develop symptoms of a magnesium overdose, such as slowed heartbeat, severe drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, muscle weakness or loss of consciousness.

Supplement and Dosage Guide

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 350 to 420 milligrams per day for most adults, which can be obtained through a combination of foods and supplements. The best way to avoid an overdose in magnesium is to follow dosage directions and avoid taking more than 500 milligrams or so of magnesium a day.

Magnesium sulfate is taken in two primary ways: orally as a supplement taken by mouth or used as Epsom salts in a soaking bath. Sometimes it’s also given intravenously when someone is severely deficient.

  • To take magnesium sulfate by mouth: Dissolve one dose of magnesium sulfate in eight ounces of water, stir this mixture and drink it right away. Some people also like to add juice or lemon juice to help enhance the flavor. If you take capsules by mouth, don’t crush or chew the pills, since this can affect how much magnesium is released into your body at one time.
  • To use magnesium sulfate as an Epsom salt soak: Dissolve Epsom salt in a bath (you can also use a large bowl of water or a bucket if only soaking your feet), then sit in the mixture and soak for about 20 to 40 minutes. By simply soaking your feet or entire body in a bath containing Epsom salts, you can increase internal levels of magnesium naturally without taking magnesium supplements. Read the product’s directions to know how much Epsom salt to use per gallon of water. To keep the product from going bad, make sure to store it in a dry, room temperature location.
  • To treat mild to severe magnesium deficiency: The current protocol for administration of magnesium sulfate is one gram given intravenously (IV) over six hours for four doses for mild deficiency or five grams over three hours for severe deficiency. Maintenance is then between 30–60 mg/kg/day in IV form.
  • Magnesium sulfate for preeclampsia: To control eclampsia during pregnancy, four to five grams can be administered via an IV, followed by a maintenance dose that depends on the individual’s reaction.

How long does magnesium sulfate stay in your system?

Magnesium sulfate usually takes effect immediately and can stay in your system for at least several hours and up to about 24 hours. After treatment with high doses of magnesium, levels usually return to normal within a few days.

You can lower your chances of experiencing diarrhea or a stomachache when taking magnesium if you consume it with meals and also drink plenty of water.

Make sure to drink lots of fluids while using magnesium sulfate, since it works in part by absorbing water in the digestive system. Remember that while getting extra magnesium from supplements can be helpful for some people, it’s still important to eat a healthy diet that provides magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy green veggies, avocados, bananas, beans, whole grain cereals, cocoa and nuts.

Final Thoughts

  • Magnesium sulfate is a type of magnesium supplement that is made with the mineral magnesium plus sulfur and oxygen. It’s also called Epsom salt.
  • Magnesium sulfate is commonly taken internally for constipation relief or applied to the skin.
  • Its other benefits are known to include a boost in magnesium levels, stress reduction, toxin elimination, pain relief and blood sugar improvement. This product is also a remedy for arthritis joint pain and inflammation. It can be used to treat breathing problems like asthma and help women prevent or treat preeclampsia and eclampsia.
  • Be sure to drink lots of fluids while using magnesium sulfate, since it works in part by absorbing water in the intestines.
  • Magnesium overdose is also called magnesium toxicity. It’s very important to follow dosage directions for magnesium sulfate carefully because taking or using too much can cause serious, even life-threatening side effects.


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Magnesium is a mineral that is important for normal bone structure in the body. People get magnesium from their diet, but sometimes magnesium supplements are needed if magnesium levels are too low. Dietary intake of magnesium may be low, particularly among women. Magnesium deficiency is also not uncommon among African Americans and the elderly. Low magnesium levels in the body have been linked to diseases such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, hereditary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

An easy way to remember foods that are good magnesium sources is to think fiber. Foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium. Dietary sources of magnesium include legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). Other sources include dairy products, meats, chocolate, and coffee. Water with a high mineral content, or “hard” water, is also a source of magnesium.

People take magnesium by mouth to prevent magnesium deficiency. It is also used as a laxative for constipation and for preparation of the bowel for surgical or diagnostic procedures. It is also used as an antacid for acid indigestion.

Some people use magnesium for diseases of the heart and blood vessels including chest pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, high levels of “bad” cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, low levels of “good” cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, heart valve disease (mitral valve prolapse), metabolic syndrome, clogged arteries (coronary artery disease), stroke, and heart attack.

Magnesium is also used for treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, cystic fibrosis, alcoholism, mania, recovery after surgery, leg cramps at night and during pregnancy, diabetes, kidney stones, migraine headaches, a long-term pain condition called complex regional pain syndrome, weak bones (osteoporosis), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), altitude sickness, urinary incontinence, a condition that causes burning pain and redness called erythromelalgia, a disorder that causes a strong urge to move ones legs (restless legs syndrome; RLS), asthma, hayfever, multiple sclerosis, and for preventing hearing loss and cancer.

Athletes sometimes use magnesium to increase energy and endurance.

Some people apply magnesium on their skin to treat infected skin ulcers, boils, and carbuncles; and to speed up wound healing. Magnesium is also used as a cold compress in the treatment of a severe skin infection caused by strep bacteria (erysipelas) and as a hot compress for deep-seated skin infections.

Magnesium is injected into the body for nutritional purposes and to treat magnesium deficiency that occurs in people with pancreas infections, magnesium absorption disorders, and cirrhosis. It is also injected to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy and other pregnancy complications.

Magnesium is also used as an injection to control seizures, to treat irregular heartbeat, to control irregular heartbeat after a heart attack, and for cardiac arrest. Magnesium is also injected into the body to treat asthma and other lung disease complications, for migraines and cluster headaches, jellyfish stings, poisonings, pain, swelling in the brain, chemotherapy side effects, head trauma and bleeding, sickle cell disease, to prevent cerebral palsy, and for tetanus.

How does it work?

Magnesium is required for the proper growth and maintenance of bones. Magnesium is also required for the proper function of nerves, muscles, and many other parts of the body. In the stomach, magnesium helps neutralize stomach acid and moves stools through the intestine.SLIDESHOWDigestive Disorders: Common MisconceptionsSee Slideshow


Effective for…

  • Constipation. Taking magnesium by mouth is helpful as a laxative for constipation and to prepare the bowel for medical procedures.
  • Indigestion. Taking magnesium by mouth as an antacid reduces symptoms of heartburn. Various magnesium compounds can be used, but magnesium hydroxide seems to work the fastest.
  • Magnesium deficiency. Taking magnesium is helpful for treating and preventing magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency usually occurs when people have liver disorders, heart failure, vomiting or diarrhea, kidney dysfunction, and other conditions.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia). Administering magnesium intravenously (by IV) or as a shot is considered the treatment of choice for reducing high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) and for treating eclampsia, which includes the development of seizures. Research suggests that administering magnesium reduces the risk of seizures.

Likely Effective for…

  • Irregular heartbeat (torsades de pointes). Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) is helpful for treating a certain type of irregular heartbeat called torsades de pointes.

Possibly Effective for…

  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias). Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) or by mouth seems to be helpful for treating a certain type of irregular heartbeat called arrhythmias.
  • Asthma. Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to help treat sudden asthma attacks. However, it might be more beneficial in children than in adults. Taking magnesium using an inhaler might improve breathing in people with asthma, especially when used with the drug salbutamol. But conflicting results exist. Taking magnesium by mouth does not seem to improve attacks in people with long-term asthma.
  • Pain caused by nerve damage associated with cancer. Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to relieve pain caused by nerve damage due to cancer for several hours.
  • Cerebral palsy. The best evidence to date suggests that giving magnesium to pregnant women before very preterm births can reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in the infant.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Administering magnesium as a shot seems to improve symptoms of fatigue. However, there is some controversy about its benefits.
  • A lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Administering magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to help sudden COPD symptoms. Also, taking magnesium using an inhaler, along with the drug salbutamol, seems to reduce sudden COPD symptoms better than salbutamol alone.
  • Cluster headache. Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to relieve cluster headaches.
  • Colon and rectal cancer. Research shows that eating more foods with magnesium in them is linked to a reduced risk of colon and rectal cancer. But other research suggests that magnesium might reduce colon cancer risk, but not rectal cancer risk.
  • Chest pain (angina) due to clogged arteries. Taking magnesium by mouth seems to reduce chest pain attacks and blood clots in people with coronary artery disease.
  • Cystic fibrosis. Research shows that taking magnesium by mouth daily for 8 weeks improves lung strength in children with cystic fibrosis.
  • Diabetes. Eating a diet with more magnesium is linked with a reduced risk of developing diabetes in adults and overweight children. Research on the effects of magnesium for people with existing type 2 diabetes shows conflicting results. In people with type 1 diabetes, magnesium might slow the development of nerve problems caused by diabetes.
  • Fibromyalgia. Taking magnesium with malic acid (Super Malic tablets) by mouth seems to reduce pain related to fibromyalgia. Taking magnesium citrate daily for 8 weeks seems to improve some symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Hearing loss. Taking magnesium by mouth seems to prevent hearing loss in people exposed to loud noise. Also, taking magnesium seems to improve hearing loss in people with sudden hearing loss not related to loud noise. Injecting magnesium by IV might also help improve sudden hearing loss.
  • High cholesterol. Taking magnesium chloride and magnesium oxide appears to slightly decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) and total cholesterol levels, and slightly increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Metabolic syndrome (increased risk for diabetes and heart disease). People with low magnesium levels are 6-7 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than people with normal magnesium levels. Higher magnesium intake from diet and supplements is linked with a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome in healthy women and healthy young adults.
  • Diseases of heart valves (mitral valve prolapse). Taking magnesium by mouth seems to reduce symptoms of mitral valve prolapse in people with low magnesium levels in their blood.
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis). Taking magnesium by mouth seems to prevent bone loss in older women with osteoporosis. Also, taking estrogen along with magnesium plus calcium and a multivitamin supplement appears to increase bone strength in older women better than estrogen alone.
  • Pain after a hysterectomy. Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to help reduce pain after a surgical procedure to remove the uterus called a hysterectomy. There is some evidence that a high magnesium dose of 3 grams followed by 500 mg per hour can reduce discomfort. However, lower doses do not seem to be effective and might actually increase pain.
  • Pain after surgery. When administered with anesthesia or given to people after surgery, magnesium seems to increase the amount of time before pain develops and might decrease the need to use pain relievers after surgery.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking magnesium by mouth seems to relieve symptoms of PMS, including mood changes and bloating. Taking magnesium by mouth also seems to prevent premenstrual migraines.
  • Chest pain due to blood vessel spasms (vasospastic angina). Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) seems to prevent blood vessel spasms in people with chest pain caused by spasms in the artery that supplies blood to the heart.

Possibly Ineffective for…

  • Heart attack. In general, giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) or taking magnesium by mouth does not seem to reduce the overall risk of death after a heart attack.
  • Altitude sickness. Research suggests that taking magnesium citrate by mouth daily in three divided doses beginning 3 days before climbing a mountain and continuing until climbing down the mountain does not reduce the risk of sudden altitude sickness.
  • Athletic performance. Some early research suggests that taking magnesium by mouth reduces the effects of sleep deprivation on athletic performance. Other research suggests that taking a magnesium supplement (Easymag, Sanofi-Aventis) by mouth daily for 12 weeks slightly improves walking speed in elderly women. Taking magnesium by mouth does not seem to increase energy or endurance during athletic activity.
  • Chronic pain after an injury. Research suggests that using magnesium intravenously (by IV) for 4 hours each day for 5 days does not improve pain in people with chronic pain after an injury.
  • Jellyfish stings. Research suggests that taking the medication fentanyl while receiving magnesium intravenously (by IV) does not reduce pain after a jellyfish sting more than fentanyl alone.
  • Muscle cramps. Taking magnesium supplements does not seem to decrease the frequency or intensity of muscle cramps.
  • Muscle strength. Some research suggests that applying a specific magnesium cream (MagPro) to muscles for one week does not improve muscle flexibility or endurance.
  • Head trauma. Research suggests that magnesium does not improve the outcome or reduce the risk of death for people with a traumatic head injury.
  • Sickle cell disease. Research shows that giving magnesium sulfate intravenously (by IV) every hour for 8 doses does not benefit children with sickle cell disease.
  • Stillbirths. Taking magnesium supplements during pregnancy does not seem to decrease the risk of stillbirths.
  • Tetanus. Taking magnesium does not seem to reduce the risk of death in people with tetanus compared to standard treatment. However, taking magnesium might reduce the amount of time spent in the hospital, although results are conflicting.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…

  • Alcoholism. Taking magnesium by mouth seems to improve sleep quality in people who are dependent on alcohol and going through withdrawal. However, injecting magnesium as a shot does not seem to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Aluminum phosphide poisoning. Some research suggests that taking magnesium reduces the risk of death in people with aluminum phosphide poisoning. Other research suggests magnesium does not have this effect.
  • Anxiety. Early research suggests that taking magnesium, hawthorn, and California poppy (Sympathyl, not available in the U.S.) might help treat mild to moderate anxiety disorder.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD seem to have lower magnesium levels. Early research suggests that magnesium might help treat ADHD in children with low magnesium levels.
  • Bipolar disorder. Early research suggests that taking a certain magnesium product (Magnesiocard) may have similar effects as lithium in some people with bipolar disorder.
  • Heart disease. Research on the effects of magnesium intake in the diet on heart disease is inconsistent. Some research suggests that increasing magnesium intake in the diet is linked to a reduce risk of death related to heart disease. But not all research shows positive effects. Some research suggests that increasing magnesium intake in the diet does not affect heart disease risk. Other research suggests that there is no link between magnesium intake and heart disease.
  • High blood pressure. Some research suggests that taking magnesium by mouth slightly reduces diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) in people with mild to moderate high blood pressure. Magnesium might not lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading).
  • Brain damage in infants caused by lack of oxygen. Research suggests that administering magnesium intravenously (by IV) might improve outcomes in infants with brain damage caused by lack of oxygen in the short-term but not the long-term.
  • Kidney stones. Taking magnesium by mouth might prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. But other medications such as chlorthalidone (Hygroton) may be more effective.
  • Low back pain. Early research suggests that receiving magnesium intravenously (by IV) every 4 hours for 2 weeks while taking magnesium by mouth daily for 4 weeks reduces pain in people with chronic low back pain.
  • Mania. Early research suggests that taking magnesium by mouth plus the drug verapamil reduces manic symptoms better than just verapamil alone. Other early research suggests that giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) reduces the dose of other drugs needed to manage severe manic symptoms.
  • Migraine headaches. Taking high doses of magnesium by mouth seems to reduce how often migraines occur, as well as their severity. But other research suggests that magnesium does not have any effect on migraines. Limited research suggests that using magnesium intravenously (by IV) might reduce migraines. Other research suggests that using magnesium by IV does not provide any relief.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking magnesium might reduce stiff or rigid muscles in people with MS.
  • Nerve damage caused by the anticancer drug oxaliplatin. Research on the effects of magnesium on nerve damage caused by oxaliplatin is inconsistent. Some research shows that giving a calcium and magnesium infusion reduces nerve pain caused by this drug. But other research shows that it has no effect on preventing nerve damage or improving symptoms.
  • Recovery after surgery. Some research suggests that taking a specific magnesium lozenge (Magnesium-Diasporal lozenge, Med Ilac, Istanbus, Turkey) by mouth 30 minutes before surgery reduces sore throat from the breathing tube.
  • Pregnancy-related leg cramps. Research on the use of magnesium for treating leg cramps caused by pregnancy has been inconsistent. Some studies show that taking magnesium by mouth might reduce leg cramps during pregnancy. However, another study shows no benefit.
  • Premature labor. Giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) might prevent contractions when premature labor occurs. Some research suggests that magnesium is more effective at delaying labor by 48 hours compared to some conventional drugs. However, not all experts believe it is beneficial, and some research suggests it might cause more adverse effects.
  • A disorder that causes a strong urge to move ones legs (restless legs syndrome; RLS). Taking magnesium by mouth might decrease the amount of movement and increase the amount of sleep in patients with restless legs syndrome. However, the role of magnesium, if any, in restless legs syndrome is uncertain. Some people with this condition have high levels of magnesium in their blood, while others have low magnesium levels.
  • Stroke. There is inconsistent evidence about the effects of magnesium supplements or magnesium intake in the diet on stroke. Some evidence suggests that increasing magnesium intake in the diet might reduce the risk of stroke in men. But there is no proof that taking magnesium supplements will have the same effect. Some early research suggests that administering magnesium intravenously (by IV) might benefit people who have had a stroke. But other research suggests that it does not reduce the risk of death or disability in most people.
  • Bleeding in the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage). There is mixed evidence about the effect of magnesium in managing bleeding in the brain. Some research suggests that giving magnesium intravenously (by IV) reduces the risk of death and vegetative state. However, other research does not support these findings.
  • Sudden cardiac death. Some preliminary research suggests that higher levels of magnesium are linked with a lower chance of experiencing sudden cardiac death. However, it is not known if taking a magnesium supplement reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death. Giving magnesium intravenously does not seem to have a benefit.
  • Poisoning from tricyclic antidepressant drugs. Early research shows that adding magnesium to an intravenous infusion does not help people with poisoning from tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Hayfever.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Skin infections.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Other conditions.

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