When it comes to nutrition, when something sounds too good to be true, it is likely. Meal replacement can claim to have a perfect nutritional balance, but they taste terrible. Dietary supplements such as probiotics and vitamin B are touted as a panacea for a variety of diseases, but are mostly unregulated and are not needed by most people.

Magnesium is the newest wonder substance. It can allegedly help with many different ailments, from muscle aches to anxiety and insomnia. Magnesium plays a vital role in the way our body works. In addition to other critical functions, it contributes to energy production, bone formation, nerve conductivity, muscle orientation, and normal heart rhythm.

Magnesium interacts with some medications, including antibiotics, diuretics, osteoporosis, and proton pump inhibitors. Ask your doctor before taking any supplements for possible interactions.

The purported benefits of magnesium include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced migraine symptoms
  • Help for depression and anxiety
  • Decreased muscle soreness
  • Improved sleep
  • Asthma symptom relief

A doctor may prescribe a magnesium supplement if you regularly experience cramping, tiredness, or irritability. In some cases, magnesium can be used to treat constipation. But a healthy diet rich in unprocessed foods is still the most natural protection against magnesium deficiency. An ounce of raw almonds – about a handful – contains 80 milligrams of magnesium.

If you do not regularly take magnesium-rich foods or if you notice the above mild symptoms (cramping, fatigue, and irritability), supplementing may be a good idea. If you do not have a deficiency, supplementation is not beneficial. While some vitamins and minerals are particularly toxic in high doses, magnesium is relatively non-toxic as we have effective mechanisms to prevent excessive magnesium intake. Exceptions are those with kidney problems who may not be able to excrete excess magnesium, as well as those who take certain medications. Ask your doctor before adding a magnesium supplement (or other supplements).