Magnesium helps nerve and muscle function, aids in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and keeps the heart and bones healthy and strong. This mineral has many roles, and perhaps this is the reason why so many myths exist about its function in the body.
It’s important to clear up any misconceptions about magnesium. A lot of mystery and questions surround this mineral, and it’s time to dispel rumors about its function and the role it plays in the body. Hopefully, addressing these 15 myths about magnesium can clear up any misunderstandings about its benefits and dangers.
1. Magnesium deficiency is common: To the contrary, a magnesium deficiency is not common in healthy people. However, chronic alcoholism, certain health conditions and the use of some medications may lead to a magnesium deficiency. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium deficiency is related to factors that promote headaches.
2. Magnesium can cure migraines: Studies conducted by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society show that magnesium supplements may prevent or reduce symptoms of migraine headaches, stating that this type of therapy is “probably effective.” Note that there is no supporting evidence that suggests magnesium can “cure” migraines.
3. Magnesium consumption can result in toxicity: Excessive magnesium from food doesn’t usually pose a health risk; however, consuming too much magnesium in the form of a supplement can be very dangerous. Magnesium toxicity is a real threat to children and adults. Symptoms of overdose from a magnesium supplement include nausea, vomiting, retention of urine, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.
4. Older adults do not need magnesium supplements: As we age, our body depletes magnesium on its own. Older people are also more likely to have chronic diseases and may take medications that alter the status of magnesium in their bodies. A physician may recommend a magnesium supplement to an older adult who takes medication and/or has a chronic disease.
5. Magnesium supplements can treat ADHD: Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that magnesium supplements can treat symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study cited in the February 2017 edition of Current Psychiatry Reports states that supplements have “inconclusive results and at best marginal beneficial effects” on ADHD symptoms.
6. Magnesium is only found in bottled water: Magnesium is found in both municipal tap water and commercially sold bottled water. Interestingly, the levels of magnesium — and all minerals for that matter — vary greatly in bottled water and municipal water sources. According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, North American tap water and bottled waters generally contain low mineral levels, whereas European bottled waters contain higher mineral levels.
7. Applying magnesium to your skin is beneficial: There is no scientific evidence to support this claim; therefore, it’s a myth. While many consumers rave about transdermal application of magnesium, there is no evidence to support its positive use. Magnesium salt baths, masks and sprays should never be used in lieu of an oral supplement prescribed by a physician.
8. Magnesium supplements reduce blood pressure: Studies on this subject are inconclusive. If magnesium supplements have any effect on high blood pressure, it’s insignificant. However, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. An individuals with high blood pressure should make major life changes, including exercise, quitting smoking and eating healthier.
9. Magnesium is linked to diabetes: Yes, it’s true. Magnesium is linked to diabetes — but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, magnesium is known to help break down sugars. Individuals with higher amounts of magnesium in their diets have a reduced risk of developing certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
10. You should take magnesium supplements while pregnant: A pregnant woman should consult with her physician and OBGYN before taking any type of supplement or medication. However, it is important to note that magnesium deficiency has never been reported to occur in healthy individuals consuming ordinary diets. The safety of magnesium supplements given during pregnancy is inconclusive, as there are no reported studies.
11. Cooking vegetables depletes magnesium: It sounds true, doesn’t it? Surprise! An article published by The Globe and Mail argues that cooking some vegetables is more beneficial to our health. Cooked spinach, for example, offers more magnesium and iron to our bodies than raw spinach.
12. Magnesium sulfate is not safe to consume: Epsom salts are an FDA-approved laxative, but it’s important to follow its directions to maintain safety. Magnesium sulfate taken orally in large, frequent doses can cause toxicity; however, magnesium sulfate laxatives are generally considered safe.
13. Coffee depletes magnesium: Actually, coffee contains magnesium. Each cup of coffee has approximately 7 milograms of magnesium. It’s not exactly a health drink, but it certainly isn’t robbing your body of magnesium.
14. Magnesium makes people anxious: To the contrary, studies show that magnesium has a calming effect when used by people with affective disorders. It appears that magnesium plays a vital role in the central nervous system, and one doctor even refers to it as “the original chill pill” in an article published by Psychology Today.
15. Actress Carrie Fisher died from a magnesium deficiency: Actress Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack in 2016. There is no evidence to support the claim that Fisher died from a magnesium deficiency. While it’s true that a magnesium deficiency can lead to heart-related problems or even death, many health conditions can cause a heart attack.