Although true magnesium deficiency symptoms are rarely seen in the United States, one symptom is becoming more linked to “insufficient” magnesium in the diet. This symptom is peripheral neuropathy and often presents with the typical numbness and tingling caused by nerve damage. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to both improve neuropathy symptoms and protect from peripheral neuropathy (even in diabetics). Let me give a little background.
Why Is Magnesium Important?
Magnesium is an important mineral found throughout the body with involvement in more than 300 biomechanical processes in the body. It is acutely involved with bone, including improved bone strength. Has been studied as an important nutrient for muscle and nerve function and has even been linked to muscle cramps and muscle pain. Some studies have even shown magnesium as a nutrient to help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It is, therefore, found in every tissue and every cell in the body and must be sufficient to provide the necessary functions. As we see regularly, one very sensitive cell in the neuron (nerve cell) and therefore even insufficient levels may cause nerves to malfunction (ie peripheral neuropathy).
Although true deficiency is rare in the United States, the Office of Dietary Supplements has recommended supplementation, as dietary intake is often insufficient for all the functions of the body. Disease processes have also been implicated with causing poor absorption of magnesium, such as Crohn’s Disease or Celiac Disease. Alcoholism or Diabetes can also cause loss of magnesium through the urine. Chronic diarrhea can also cause loss of magnesium stores. Lastly, some medications may cause over excretion through the urine. Whatever the cause, levels of magnesium insufficiency are being seen and should be treated.
Should I Supplement?
Although magnesium supplementation may cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping, I would recommend it for anyone suffering from peripheral neuropathy. If you have poor absorption diseases (Crohns or Celiac, etc.), poorly controlled diabetes or alcohol abuse, are on diuretics or some antibiotics, or are in an older age bracket, supplementation is even more strongly recommended. This supplementation may improve your peripheral neuropathy, but might also reduce cramping and muscle weakness also.
Our recommended dosage for magnesium supplementation is 200-300mg per day. To determine what dosage is best for you, however, it is recommended that you discuss this with your physician.