Magnesium and Muscle Spasms
As with any of my other articles, I find my topics in our SCI FB group discussions. I then roll up to my computer, do some evidence-based research on the topic, break it down in an easy-to-understand piece, and share my findings to our FB groups and on my website. This one is no different and this month’s article is on Magnesium and its relationship to muscle spasms. There seems to be a lot of discussion on muscle spasms and the use of Magnesium to help alleviate them but when I sat down to research it, there seems to be just as many types of Magnesium also. As a nurse, I knew of Magnesium and the needs of the body but as supplements, I was surprised by the “many flavors” you might say. I was overwhelmed, which led me to writing this article to help clear it up.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is found throughout your body. Every cell in your body contains this mineral and needs it to function. Magnesium is required for the proper growth and maintenance of bones, for proper function of nerves, muscles, and many other parts of the body. In the stomach, magnesium helps neutralize stomach acid and move stools through the intestines. Magnesium is found in various foods ranging from leafy greens to nuts, seeds, and beans, yet many people don’t get enough in their diet.
Since Magnesium is needed for proper body functions, which supplement is needed? This is the part where, I, as a nurse, say check with your doctor or pharmacist. And please know too much magnesium can cause diarrhea or constipation, the two things we, with SCIs, worry about. The recommended dosage for supplemental Magnesium is 320mg/day but most of us can receive enough magnesium from our dietary foods we consume.
Natural Sources of Magnesium (webmd.com)
Natural food sources of magnesium include:
Green, leafy vegetables, like spinach
Beans, peas, and soybeans
Types of Magnesium Supplements
There are nine different Magnesium supplements on the market and what causes each one to be different is the “salt” added to that basic Magnesium, which causes each one to have a different job or function. I’m not reviewing all nine but the top six, we may be interested in. And that is the tricky part in deciding as to which one is the best for you. Talk to your pharmacist at your local drug store or your personal healthcare provider in making your decision. I am going to include the few Magnesium supplements that may benefit us with spinal cord injuries.
1. Magnesium Oxide – most people chose because it is one of the most cost effective. Magnesium Oxide can be used to pull fluid into the intestines to get things moving.
2. Magnesium Citrate – while we are discussing “getting things moving down there,” this magnesium is the ONE to get the bowels moving but be careful. Magnesium Citrate will lead to diarrhea.
3. Magnesium Glycinate – This is the one which can assist in gentle relaxation and may aid in a restful night sleep. But again, discuss with your PCP if you are taking other nighttime meds.
4. Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom salt) – this is not a supplement and I added it to make you aware of the term. This one is the most potent as it is included in the colonoscopy regimen. So, beware. But if you have sore muscles, Epsom salt can be sprinkled in the bath water to help relieve discomfort.
5. Magnesium Malate – This is the Magnesium supplement which is thought to be the easier to be absorbed by the body and the one that may help sore muscles or decrease muscle spasms.
6. Magnesium Chloride: Commonly found in lotions, magnesium chloride is magnesium bound with chlorine. Not to be taken by mouth. It's used topically for achy joints.
Bottom Line: Do your own research before adding any supplements to your diet. Include your physician and pharmacist in your fact-finding mission. Just because someone suggests it on a FB post doesn’t mean it will work for you.
It’s all good, so keep on rollin’.
Patty, BSN, RN
The Rollin’ RN ™