Magnesium supplements are all the rage on TikTok

Any health trend lauded online as a one-stop shop for curing a laundry list of ailments should be viewed with a critical eye. But in the case of TikTok influencers promoting the use of magnesium, many nutrition experts are thrilled that the nutrient is finally getting more widespread recognition and so it can be implemented more regularly into diets.

A 2018 study in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association estimated up to half of Americans are deficient in magnesium. 

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"Magnesium is a pretty prevalent deficiency out there … and nobody really talks about it," says Joel Totoro, a registered dietician and Director of Sports Science at vitamin and supplement brand Thorne.

What is magnesium good for?

In short, a lot. 

Experts laud magnesium as a regulator of hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body that help to create serotonin and regulate a number of important things including stress hormones, sleep quality, hydration and muscle growth and recovery. 

"If you had to sum it up, magnesium does kind of just relax things," says Totoro. "It's needed to relax muscles. We tend to recommend people take their dose before bed just because it does relax the brain."

Deficiency in magnesium has been linked to depression, decreased dopamine levels, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fatigue and low libido, says Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutritional biologist and author of "This is Your Brain on Food."

What does magnesium do for the body?

Totoro has worked with athletes who struggled with what felt like cramping muscles and were found to be deficient in magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements helped them find relief. 

"If you are seeking dietary strategies to improve your mental health, resilience and sleep quality, optimizing your magnesium status is an important piece," Naidoo says, though she recommends a "food-first approach when it comes to getting essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients," meaning those seeking to up their magnesium intakes should consider changing their diets before they spend money on over-the-counter supplements.

What foods have magnesium?

If you want to increase your magnesium intake, reach for foods such as: 

  • Dark leafy greens.
  • Avocados.
  • Almonds.
  • Black beans.
  • Quinoa.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Bananas.

Magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate, explained

If you can't get enough magnesium through dietary changes, Totoro usually recommends one of two types of magnesium supplements: magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate. He says these types are more easily absorbed by the body and don't linger in the gut for long, which can trigger diarrhea or other bowel movement issues. For those with sensitive stomachs, Totoro suggests magnesium glycinate. 

It's always best to exercise caution when introducing a new supplement into your regimen. Naidoo recommends consulting a doctor about taking a red blood cell magnesium test to determine any deficiencies and sticking to the recommended serving to avoid more serious side effects. 

Another reason Naidoo recommends a diet-first approach to get in magnesium: Kidneys will automatically eliminate excess magnesium from food, but higher-dose magnesium supplements can lead to some unwanted gastrointestinal reactions. 

"If you take too much, you'll know. I don't know how you write that politely," Totoro jokes. 

More on magnesium and other supplements

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Are common multivitamins worth the money? New study explores the benefits, harms.

What does vitamin D do? Plus who actually needs to be taking this popular supplement.

Are you getting enough vitamin C per day? And why it matters.

Is vitamin water actually good for you? It's complicated, experts say.

More: Why Epsom salt should be a staple in your home medicine cabinet

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: TikTok wellness influencers are obsessed with magnesium. Health experts actually agree with them.

2023-03-23T13:45:50Z dg43tfdfdgfd