For the more than six million people who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, supplementation with magnesium may help decrease pain and improve muscle strength and endurance. Studies have demonstrated that those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia often have lower levels of magnesium when compared to the rest of the population. Increasing your magnesium intake should be considered as part of your treatment armamentarium.
Magnesium is a mineral found in the cells of your body and is part of the energy mechanism that keeps your muscle cells running smoothly. It can also be found in your bones and is so important for maintaining bone health. Did you know that magnesium is needed for over two hundred chemical reactions in the human body? Without magnesium your intestine does not absorb nutrients as well. Low magnesium levels can also affect the absorption of other important minerals, such as potassium and calcium.
Magnesium is crucial for maintaining muscle strength and endurance. Because it dilates blood vessels, it improves blood flow to the muscles which is important not only for muscle health but also toxin removal. Low magnesium levels also increase total body inflammation; in fibromyalgia, the goal is to lower the total body inflammatory load. Magnesium also helps to relieve pain: it helps to decrease the pain sensitivity associated with fibromyalgia.
How do you know if your magnesium levels are low? Well, the most common way that magnesium levels are measured is by a simple blood test. Be aware that the magnesium level that is measured in the blood may not accurately reflect the levels of magnesium in the cell. That being said, other tests used to measure magnesium are more cumbersome and there are questions concerning their reliability.
On routine blood work, most “normal” reference ranges of magnesium are from 1.6-2.6 mg/dL. Note that there is a significant difference between the reference ranges. The goal of treatment is to get the magnesium levels in the blood in the higher range.
How much magnesium should you take? In general it is recommended that you take at least 600 – 800 mg of magnesium a day. Great dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, seeds (sunflower and sesame for example), and nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts for example). If you are on a typical Western diet that is low in magnesium, you may need to take a magnesium supplement.
What form of magnesium should you take? Be aware that not all magnesium is created the same. You want to pick a formulation that is highly absorbed by the body. Chelated magnesium is a form of magnesium without the heavy metals. Magnesium malate, a combination of magnesium and malic acid is a form of magnesium that may provide more benefit for those with fibromyalgia. In one study, a combination of magnesium and malic acid not only reduced pain and tenderness, but was also reported to improve a person’s functional status.
Be aware that for some people taking magnesium orally, it can cause intestinal upset, including diarrhea. The use of a magnesium oil and/or magnesium gel when topically applied to the arms or legs daily can help normalize your magnesium levels and get you on the road to recovery.
By: Dr. Rich Snyder
- Bagis S, Karabiber M. “Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia?” Rheumatology International. 2013 Jan; 33(1):167-72.
- Kim YS, Kim KM et al. “Women with fibromyalgia have lower levels of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese in hair mineral analysis.” Journal of Korean Medical Sciences. 2011 Oct; 26(10):1253-7.
- Russell LJ, Michalek JE et al. “Treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome with Super Malic: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover pilot study.” Journal of Rheumatology 1995 May;22(5):953-8.
- Sendor OF, Tastaban E et al. “The relationship between serum trace element levels and clinical parameters in patients with fibromyalgia.” Rheumatology International 2008 Sep;28(11):1117-21
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