Magnesium for muscle and joint aches

Written by shannon george
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Magnesium for muscle and joint aches
Magnesium may help lessen symptoms of muscle and joint pain associated with diseases like fibromyalgia. (Mimi Haddon/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Magnesium is an essential mineral that affects every organ of the body. Although it is available in many foods, including whole grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables, most people do not get enough magnesium in their diet, according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre. Magnesium can also be administered through oral supplements, which may prevent and treat a number of health conditions, including muscle and joint pain.

Magnesium and muscle pain

Magnesium deficiency can cause painful muscle cramps, particularly in the legs, which are relieved through magnesium supplementation, according to an article published in the journal, Canadian Family Physician. Administration of magnesium can also lessen the calf cramps that accompany preeclampsia, a condition that pregnant women can develop in the third trimester of pregnancy, according to a study published in the German medical journal "Fortschritte der Medizin." Some doctors, including Dr. Jay Goldstein, director of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Institute, recommend magnesium supplementation, in combination with malic acid, to treat muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Magnesium and joint pain

According to a 2002 article by Dr. Georges Ramalanjaona, magnesium deficiency is often associated with fibromyalgia, a disease characterised by joint and muscle pain, and magnesium can be used in the treatment of this disease. A trial conducted on rats in Japan indicates that magnesium may also help prevent the development of rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that causes painful joint inflammation.


According to the National Institutes of Health in America, adults should receive between 310 and 420 mg of magnesium per day for general dietary purposes, although older adults, individuals with certain diseases such as Crohn's or diabetes, and people taking certain medications are at a higher risk for magnesium deficiency and may require a higher magnesium intake. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, therapeutic dosages to treat conditions such as preeclampsia muscle cramps may be as high as 500 to 1,000 mg daily.


Oral magnesium supplements come in several forms, which vary in elemental magnesium content (amount of magnesium in the supplement) and bioavailability (amount of magnesium in the supplement that the body is able to absorb), both of which influence the effectiveness of the supplement, says the NIH. Examples of magnesium supplement compounds include magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate and magnesium citrate. Magnesium oxide, carbonate and hydroxide contain more elemental magnesium than other forms, according to the NIH, although magnesium citrate, gluconate and lactate have better bioavailability compared to other types of magnesium supplements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre.


Oral magnesium supplementation, even at doses as low as 350 to 500 mg per day, may cause the unpleasant side effect of diarrhoea, according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre. According to the NIH, very large doses of magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids can cause magnesium toxicity, a condition characterised by low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and change in mental status. People with kidney disease have a reduced ability to excrete excess magnesium through the kidneys and therefore should not take magnesium supplements unless a doctor prescribes them, says the NIH.

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