Warning: If you have kidney disease (renal failure), you must not take any magnesium supplements without your physician's monitoring .
I. Preparing Your Program
A. Make a list of all your symptoms: mental, physical, emotional. Mark each one with how often it occurs:
Less than monthly
B. Compare your list with the list of magnesium deficiency symptoms—how many of your symptoms are on that list?
All Magnesium deficiency symptoms can be caused by other things, but if you have several and if your diet is less than what we define as a Healthy Diet or you’ve had a stressful illness or period in your life, trying nutritional magnesium is a good idea and most likely won’t hurt.
Healthy Diet means a steady variety of
at least 3 daily servings of whole grains,
7 to 9 daily servings of fruits and/or vegetables,
nuts, seeds and/or legumes each day,
meat or fish and/or dairy each day (unless vegetarian)
while largely turning away from foods containing substantial amounts of
high-fructose corn syrup,
refined flour and
in other words, the highly processed foods that are so appealing and so available.
To improve your diet for magnesium content, choose foods you like from the High Mg Foods list and add them to your daily life.
C. If you haven't already, take the Magnesium Questionnaire on our Home Page. If your assessment results showed you to be moderate to very high risk of magnesium deficit, or if your health assessment leads you to believe that you may have been accumulating a magnesium deficit over some years via your magnesium gap, recognize that you will first need to correct that deficit, most likely with magnesium supplements. There are several available. Choose one to begin your program that can easily be varied in daily magnesium dose.
D. Evaluate your nutritional magnesium intake using Food Sources of Magnesium on this website. If generally healthy, you are aiming for the RDA for your age/gender group. Remember that RDA levels are for healthy people only—they are NOT designed to correct a deficit. Thus, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other abnormal clinical values, the RDA may be too low for you. When your deficit is corrected, you may maintain your magnesium health with your RDA levels of Mg intake, including all sources (food, water, supplements). For people who cannot tolerate magnesium supplements, daily supplement level doses of magnesium can be met with a magnesium-containing salt and/or juicing. If very careful and consistent, some may be able to correct a mild or moderate magnesium deficit with a very healthy diet including remineralized water sources. Choose a plan that really works for YOU on a consistent, long term basis.
E. If possible, get a magnesium assessment test such as "Exatest" or a serum magnesium test before you start your program. Remember that serum Mg values below 0.85 mmol/l must be considered “LOW” even though the lab report doesn’t so state. This level of serum Mg translates to other commonly used clinical "units" as follows:
Lab Units LOW serum Mg value
II. Start Your Program
If possible, work with a health care professional. Select the level of Magnesium supplement to begin:
200 mg 400 mg 600 mg 800 mg can all be good levels to start.
When attempting to correct a magnesium deficit and to build up your magnesium stores, more than 200 mg extra magnesium per day will probably be necessary. Supplement doses of 400 to 700 mg per day are common. Some people can take in 1000 – 1200 mg magnesium daily, especially if it is taken in several doses. Ideally, you want to take in as much oral magnesium as you can without getting overly soft stools or diarrhea. If either arise, lower your daily dose of magnesium. If neither arise, increase your daily dose of magnesium. Some people cannot take in enough magnesium orally. In some cases, magnesium injections may be necessary. See your physician. Some people have luck with transdermal magnesium, i.e. using magnesium salts in a hot bath or as a foot soak.
On a daily calendar, mark each and every time you have one of your symptoms: palpitations, moodiness, irrational anxiety, fatigue, muscle aches or cramps, etc. Also, mark the day you begin your magnesium supplement program, including the dose. Mark on your calendar each change of daily magnesium dose. Continue your program for 3 – 6 months. If, in that time, your symptoms do not subside in any manner and you have maintained your daily Magnesium supplement, consider raising the dose by 200 – 350 mg/day and going another 3 months. This is called “titrating”. Repeat.
III. Evaluate Your Program
If your pre-program planning included an assessment test such as Exatest, serum magnesium test (remember that values below 0.85 mmol/l must be considered “LOW” even though the lab report doesn’t so state), magnesium load test or ISE Mg2+, continue to monitor your status using the same assessment tool. If your supplementation program is working, your “Low” values for these tests should go up.
If after a year there is no change in your symptoms, AND your blood and/or Exatest values are acceptable, you can assume that your symptoms are not caused by a deficiency in nutritional magnesium. Find out all you can about other common essential nutrient deficiencies (See What We Eat In America for clues) and relate them to your symptoms and what might be missing in your nutritional situation.
Useful Hints: Persons trying to reduce or eliminate medications, or dealing with specific risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or family history will do best by adding to their program the information and strategies described for their condition in the chapters of The Magnesium Factor, available from Amazon.com. Work with your doctor.
Be conscious of the calcium:magnesium balance in your diet and supplement program. Too much of either can exacerbate the deficit of the other. Also, when low in magnesium status, extra calcium is contra-indicated until magnesium status is replenished. Remember, reversing a nutritional magnesium deficit and/or building up magnesium stores is different for everyone. For some the process is rapid. Some, however, can take magnesium supplements for even two or three years before their magnesium stores are replenished. Still others will need to supplement for the rest of their lives to have nutritional magnesium sufficiency. Be patient. Compare but do not expect your results to mimic those of anyone else. We are all different.
Warning: If you have kidney disease (renal failure), you must not take any magnesium supplements unless prescribed by your physician.