From the Desk of Carolyn Dean MD ND
When people take a drug or a supplement, they take it with the expectation that it will make them feel better. We know that’s not always the case with drugs but what about supplements? In particular, what about magnesium?
In 2003 I published the first edition of The Magnesium Miracle and then a second edition in 2017 that almost doubled the contents because so much was happening with magnesium research. More people are taking magnesium than ever before and there are a lot of questions that I want to answer.
In some people who take magnesium, there can be a shift in symptoms that you don’t understand. Here’s how one reader put it.
“My obvious magnesium deficiency symptoms, cramping, muscle aches, headaches, etc., are worsening slightly rather than getting better. Anxiety is the only thing that has gotten better. Is this normal? I’m using magnesium oil and magnesium citrate but not yet able to tolerate more than 200-300mg without getting diarrhea.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of most magnesium products that keeps people from getting the necessary amount that they need. For this side effect, I recommend switching to a picometer-sized, stabilized ion of liquid magnesium because at that size it’s fully absorbed at the cellular level and doesn’t even reach the large intestine so it has no laxative effect.
However in “sensitive” people, even picometer magnesium can rev people up too much, or trigger an irritable bowel. If you are chronically fatigued and in, what I call, Total Body Meltdown, being revved up may make you feel even more exhausted in the beginning. If that’s the case, just cut back and take less and then work up much more slowly! This recommendation is easy to follow since picometer magnesium is in liquid form.
To begin with, you can take several drops or up to ¼ tsp of picometer magnesium in a liter of sea salted water and sip it throughout the day and slowly build up the amount you take to 2 or 3 teaspoons.
Water Intake: measure your weight in pounds; divide that number in half and drink that many ounces of water each day. Put ¼ tsp of sea salt into each liter of your drinking water.
Here are 15 of the most common questions about taking magnesium
1. Am I taking enough?
Most people do not take enough. When you start taking magnesium, I believe that the 800 – 1,000 enzyme systems that require magnesium just get a taste and They Want More! Like everyone else, I used to write that magnesium was necessary in 325 enzyme systems but now, according to many researchers that number is likely 3 times what we previously thought making it by far the most important nutrient in the body.
I’m not saying that you’ll increase your magnesium ad infinitum! You will reach a saturation point of your magnesium stores that will be evidenced by diarrhea because your cells are saturated and the excess magnesium is excreted. Then you will actually be able to decrease your magnesium intake to a maintenance amount.
However, my blog reader isn’t going to get anywhere near the amount she needs if she keeps getting the laxative effect on 200-300mg. And getting the laxative effect so early will prevent her from getting the magnesium she needs to treat her magnesium deficiency symptoms. Some people think they have enough magnesium when they get the laxative effect and try to find other remedies for their magnesium deficiency symptoms. In fact, many practitioners tell their patients to take magnesium up to the laxative effect and cut back a bit and that’s their maintenance dose. Nothing could be further from the truth.
That’s the beauty of picometer magnesium; it’s absorbed 100% at the cellular level and has no laxative effect. So you can take as much as you require to eliminate all your magnesium deficiency symptoms.
BUT, even so, if your bowels are “very sensitive” just go slowly. Instead of the maintenance dose of 1-2 tsp a day or the therapeutic dose of 2-4 tsp a day, I’ve seen customers begin with 5-10 drops a day and take it with food. Then you increase by 10 drops every 2-3 days.
To determine your magnesium saturation point, you can get a Magnesium RBC test through Request A Test. The range is usually given as 4.2-6.9 mg/dL; the optimum level is between 6.0-6.5mg/dL. It’s not the definitive magnesium test but it’s something that you can use to follow your magnesium saturation using a baseline test before you start taking picometer magnesium.
2. Am I taking too much?
You can feel worse on magnesium if you take too much, too soon. This usually happens if you have adrenal fatigue and weakness from magnesium deficiency. Anyone in this category should start very slowly on any new supplement or drug. If you take a high dose of magnesium right from the start it’s like using muscles that powered a bicycle and expect them to power a jet. Your body might just be so weak that revving up 1,000 enzyme systems all at once makes you feel jangled and even anxious or depressed because they have been pushed too fast. Please try to understand that this may actually mean that you really do need more magnesium. Start with one quarter of the recommended dose of magnesium and work up as your body adapts.
3. What if I have low blood pressure from long-standing magnesium deficiency and adrenal fatigue?
You may have heard that magnesium can lower your BP, so you worry about that happening when your BP is already low. Here’s what is likely happening: Magnesium deficiency can create an under-active autonomic nervous system leading to low blood pressure and poor circulatory system performance. This is another instance where you must begin by supplementing at about one quarter the recommended dose of magnesium and slowly build up.
4. What if I’m on heart medications?
Which can mean that as you heart condition improves your meds are becoming “toxic” because you may not require them anymore! Check with your doctor when you are using magnesium to treat health conditions and want to wean off your meds. For example, magnesium helps lower blood pressure. If you continue to take the same amounts of BP meds, your BP might get too low. This is not a “side effect” of magnesium. It’s a side effect of taking drugs when you don’t need them. Magnesium balances blood pressure. If you have low BP to begin with and are not on meds, start magnesium very slowly because, as I describe in #2, you want your body to slowly adapt to a mineral you may have been deficient in for a long time.
5. What if I’m on fluoridated medications?
Fluorine molecules can bind up your magnesium and make you deficient even when you’re taking magnesium. You can see a list of fluoridated medications at the Fluoride Toxicity Research Collaborative. There are many common fluoridated drugs such as: Prozac, Paxil, Lipitor, Cipro, Diflucan that rob your body of magnesium. A drug company may say that the fluoride in their drugs does not break down in the lab. But in the highly reactive gut, our ingenious microbiome can break down these drugs and release fluorine molecules.
6. What if I’m taking high-dose iodine?
Iodine in doses above the RDA can speed up your metabolism giving you heart palpitations that has nothing to do with magnesium deficiency. Even people who take low dose iodine without taking enough magnesium and selenium can run into iodine toxicity problems.
7. What if I’m taking high-dose Vitamin D?
Here’s what happens. You feel great on your magnesium and then you begin to have more magnesium deficiency symptoms after adding a high-dose Vitamin D supplement. Magnesium is required to transform Vitamin D from its storage form to its active form and for many other aspects of Vitamin D metabolism. That means if you take the extremely high doses that allopathic doctors are now recommending you can plummet into magnesium deficiency and not know what the heck is happening. In the past, I’ve only recommended 1,000-2,000iu of Vitamin D3, but when I tested my levels and found them to be abysmally low, at 19, I began taking 10,000ius a day and my levels rose to an appropriate level of 60.
NOTE: When my Vit D level went up, my magnesium RBC blood levels went down proving that I needed more magnesium in order to activate Vit D.
8. You are taking too much calcium and it’s pushing out your magnesium?
I’ve written about why I hate calcium; this universally prescribed mineral is dangerous because it’s causing heart disease in women. Excess calcium intake bumps magnesium out of the body and builds up in soft tissue including blood vessels causing atherosclerosis; breast tissue causing DCIS; heel spurs, kidney stones, and gall stones. My dosage recommendation for calcium is 600mg per day – hopefully obtained through the diet. My maintenance dosage recommendation for picometer magnesium is also 600mg per day.
9. Do I need to drink more water with magnesium?
Minerals and water gather together inside the cell to perform their metabolic miracles. So, the more magnesium you take the more water you should be drinking. Please see my water intake guidelines above. There is also a picometer multiple mineral formula that you can take that is the next step in proper mineral balance and an improvement on just using sea salt for your trace minerals.
10. Is magnesium detoxifying my body?
Detoxification that can feel like a healing reaction can certainly happen when you take a very active mineral like magnesium. The symptoms can be an increase in muscle pain, joint pain and even skin rashes. That’s why I recommend that you build up your dosage of magnesium slowly as the cells detoxify and are finally able to work efficiently.
11. What if I have IBS?
IBS is a sensitivity of the lining of the gut or you are very toxic (with heavy metals, medications, bad diet, yeast overgrowth (see #15)) and even picometer magnesium gives you symptoms because it’s trying to help you detox. Picometer magnesium goes directly into the cells and will cause the muscles to relax and that can cause diarrhea. That’s why I try to “warn” people with “health conditions” to go low and slow for all the many reasons I’ve cited above.
12. Are magnesium glutamate or aspartate OK to take?
I warn against taking these forms of magnesium on the advice of neurosurgeon, Dr. Russell Blaylock, who sent out the alert in his book Excitotoxins that Kill, that glutamate and aspartate can break down into individual amino acids and act as renegade, toxic neurotransmitters.
13. Should I be taking calcium with my magnesium?
I talk about the need to balance magnesium and calcium by supplementing with about 600mg of magnesium and getting 600mg of calcium in your diet. However, many people are on a dairy-free diet and just don’t get enough calcium. If it’s just lactose intolerance, try yogurt or kefir, make bone broth and eat non-lactose raw cheese. If you don’t get a total of 600mg of calcium a day, take a picometer calcium.
14. Does magnesium supplementation support my thyroid?
The magnesium in picometer magnesium and the 9 thyroid minerals in a picometer multiple mineral can “wake up” your thyroid so that it begins to make its own thyroid hormone and you don’t require as much (or any) thyroid hormone anymore. (Be sure to check with your doctor and wean off slowly.)
15. What if I have yeast overgrowth?
If you have yeast overgrowth and your newly activated immune system is trying to get it under control, you can experience some yeast die-off. You may develop a rash, itchy skin, itchy ears, a coated tongue, changes in your bowel movements, or vaginitis. You can hasten the process with a gentle antifungal like Saccharomyces bourlardii, a humic/fulvic pre-and probiotic, and picometer silver and help get your yeast overgrowth under control. With these recommendations, I’ve freed myself from an impossibly strict yeast-free diet, and constantly rotating herbal formulas and probiotics.
If you have even more questions about magnesium, please get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future