Different Forms of Magnesium & Their Side Effects

magnesium side effects risk factors

Magnesium is essential to human health, and supplementation can be a great way to make sure you’re getting enough. But those looking to supplement their magnesium should be aware of the possible side effects that might come with it. Understanding the various forms, plus the risk factors and side effects associated with them, will help you decide which form of magnesium is best for you.

In this article, we’ll help you learn about the different forms of magnesium and their respective side effects. You’ll also get insight into other factors that can affect how the body absorbs and uses magnesium. Most importantly, we’ll review common and serious side effects to be aware of when supplementing with magnesium.

What Is Magnesium and Why Do We Need It?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for human health, involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. These include muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, blood sugar control, and energy production.

Many people are magnesium deficient due to processed foods, stress, and pollution. Supplementing with magnesium can help replenish your body’s stores, reducing fatigue, headaches, muscle tension and cramps. However, not all forms of magnesium are equal, with different absorption rates and potential side effects.

Understanding the differences between them is key if you want to supplement properly and safely.

Different Forms of Magnesium & Their Effects

When it comes to magnesium supplements, not all are created equal. The form of magnesium you choose can affect how well it is absorbed and used by your body, which in turn affects the side effects you may experience.

Here’s an overview of some common forms of magnesium and the things to consider when taking them:

  • Chewable tablets: These are often seen as a convenient way of taking supplements but can contain artificial colours and flavours, which can cause digestive problems for some people.
  • Powders: Magnesium powder is a good choice if you’re looking for fast relief from your symptoms, and it can easily be added to beverages or food. The downside is that these supplements usually contain fewer total milligrammes of magnesium than capsules or tablets and could end up costing more.
  • Capsules: Absorption rates may vary depending on the type of capsule, so be sure to read the label carefully. Capsules also tend to have fewer fillers than tablets and powders, so they may be easier to digest.
  • Liquid Magnesium: This form is thought to be one of the most easily absorbable forms on the market. However, it should also be taken with caution, as liquid magnesium supplements can cause diarrhoea or stomach upset at higher doses. They can also contain fillers such as maltodextrin.

Before trying any new supplement, check with your doctor or healthcare provider about potential interactions with medications or other treatments you’re taking. Be sure to inform them about any serious side effects, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness or weakness, that occur after taking magnesium supplements.

Factors Affecting Magnesium Absorption and Use

When looking at the side effects of magnesium, it’s important to consider the factors that can affect how it’s absorbed and used by the body. These can include:

  • Genetic differences: Certain genetic variations can play a role in how magnesium is metabolised in the body.
  • Age: As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing and using magnesium, so an older person will naturally need more of it than a younger person.
  • Poor diet – A nutrient-deficient diet can also lead to low amounts of available muscle in the body.
  • Stress: Stress can cause our bodies to use up more magnesium than normal and if not replaced, could lead to depletion and side effects associated with this deficiency.
  • Medications – Certain medications like proton pump inhibitor drugs for acid reflux or antibiotics are known to reduce absorption
  • Other conditions: People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, may also be at risk of not being able to absorb or use magnesium properly.

Therefore, having an understanding of your unique health history and lifestyle is essential when considering any supplementation with minerals like magnesium.

Before trying a new supplement, consult your doctor about potential interactions and inform them of any serious side effects.

Common Side Effects of Magnesium Supplementation

Everybody absorbs and processes magnesium differently, but some common side effects can occur when taking it as a supplement.

If an individual has taken in excess magnesium, they may experience a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, including:

  • Feeling lethargic
  • Facial flushing
  • Skin reactions
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Breathing problems
  • Cardiac arrest

Knowing which form of magnesium you’re taking is key to understanding what side effects might look like.

For example, if you take a magnesium oxide supplement, you’ll likely experience digestive issues such as an upset stomach or diarrhoea because the body has trouble absorbing it efficiently.

Taking a higher dose of magnesium citrate might yield a similar result.

In contrast, magnesium glycinate supplements usually don’t cause any stomach issues.

When it comes to side effects, it’s important to be aware that taking too much of certain types of magnesium may lead to more severe reactions such as an irregular heartbeat or muscle weakness.

Therefore, it’s recommended that anyone considering taking a magnesium supplement should discuss it with their doctor first before starting supplementation.

Serious Side Effects of Magnesium Overdose

When it comes to magnesium supplements, serious side effects can arise from an overdose. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium and the tolerable upper limit depending on age and gender. Still, if you’re taking more than this amount, you may be at risk for developing serious complications.

The primary symptom of magnesium overdose is hypermagnesemia – a condition in which a person has too much magnesium in their blood – which can manifest as abdominal pain, confusion, difficulty breathing, coma, dizziness and irregular heartbeat.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to get medical help right away. Other severe symptoms of magnesium overdose include cardiac arrest, hypotension (low blood pressure), muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting.

Risk Factors for Adverse Reactions to Magnesium

Before you start taking magnesium, it’s important to be aware of certain risk factors that may increase your chance of experiencing side effects from magnesium supplementation. Different forms of magnesium may have specific risk factors associated with them, so knowing the form of magnesium you are taking is essential for understanding potential side effects.

For example, taking too much magnesium together with calcium or zinc can cause serious issues. This is because calcium, zinc, and magnesium all compete for absorption in the gut, and if one is taken in a much higher amount than the other two, it can interfere with the absorption of those minerals.

Another risk factor to watch out for is kidney disease. The kidneys usually clear magnesium, so your doctor may recommend lower doses or even avoiding supplementation entirely if you have kidney disease or other renal impairment.

Magnesium toxicity is also more likely when underlying conditions lower tolerance – such as liver disease – so people with preexisting conditions should approach supplementation with caution and under medical direction.

Another factor that can increase your chances of experiencing an overdose is impaired gastrointestinal absorption of minerals due to certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.

Finally, some forms of magnesium can interfere with how other medications are absorbed and used by the body – so pay attention to what goes on your supplement label and discuss any potential interactions with your healthcare provider before you start any new regimen.


In summary, the risks associated with magnesium supplementation should not be taken lightly. Knowing the different forms of magnesium and the factors that impact how the body absorbs and uses it will help you make an informed decision about taking supplements.

It’s important to remember that not every individual will experience the same side effects and that supplementing with magnesium can provide many positive health benefits. If you decide to supplement with magnesium, be sure to monitor your body’s reactions and talk to your healthcare provider if any side effects persist.

Epsilon Life’s high-quality products and educational resources can help guide you to the right supplement option and provide the health benefits you’re looking for.

And finally, if you’re on the hunt for the best magnesium glycinate supplement, look no further! Give our very own Epsilon Magnesium Glycinate a try. It boasts a pure chelated formula, free of artificial fillers, and doesn’t include lesser forms of magnesium that you might find in other brands. Discover the difference Epsilon can make for your health and well-being today.

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