Can A Magnesium Overdose Be Harmful?
A magnesium overdose can be harmful, and in very rare cases fatal, but one would have to take a lot of it. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in our body, and performs many essential functions. In fact magnesium can be described as a real workhorse. A well balanced diet will provide us with all the magnesium we normally need. Some individuals however, usually because of an inadequate diet, may suffer from a magnesium deficiency. In fact many more suffer from a magnesium deficiency than from a magnesium overdose.
About the only way one can experience a magnesium overdose is through ingesting an excessive amount of magnesium supplements. It is very difficult to experience a magnesium overdose from the foods we eat, even those very rich in magnesium. Not all supplements are likely to result in an overdose. Magnesium citrate supplements are relatively easily absorbed by the body, while the much more common magnesium oxide supplements are not.
If one does have a magnesium overdose the body tends to reject the excess magnesium and, as is the case with wastes and toxins, the excess magnesium is filtered through the kidneys. A protracted overdose could affect the kidneys, as could an excess of any toxic agent, but for the most part, side effects do not generally appear to be kidney-related. If a person already has an impaired kidney function however, it would be easier for them to overdose on magnesium as an excess might not be effectively flushed from the system. Common side effects are cramping and diarrhea, together with feelings of nausea. Dizziness or trouble breathing are also side effects, though generally rarely experienced. A slower heartbeat is also a potential side effect, and in the rare instance where the lower heartbeat and trouble breathing are both being experienced, a person could go into a coma, potentially leading to death. This however is a situation which very rarely occurs.
Possible Interactions, Not Just Overdoses, Are Important - The main danger of an excess of magnesium in the body, not necessarily a magnesium overdose, is the interaction magnesium can have with other elements and certain medications. Magnesium and calcium, both essential to our well being, tend to fight for space in the body, and magnesium more often than not wins out. An excess of magnesium, either from eating a diet biased towards magnesium rich foods, or from supplements, could result in a calcium deficiency, especially if the level of calcium is low to begin with.
Magnesium can impair the effectiveness of certain antibiotics, as it hinders the absorption of these medications. When taking magnesium supplements, it's a good idea to take them at times other than when medications or other supplements are being taken. The effectiveness of calcium channel blockers, taken by pregnant women, or certain blood pressure medications can be inhibited when taking magnesium supplements.
On the other hand, magnesium supplements can make some medications more potent than intended when prescribed, and other medications can cause magnesium to be lost in the urine, resulting in a magnesium deficiency.
It's Not Just The Magnesium - The real issue isn't so much about the pros and cons of magnesium, or a magnesium overdose. Too much of anything tends not to be good for us, particularly if that "anything" comes in pills or capsules. In some cases a doctor may recommend magnesium supplements be taken, in other cases the recommendation may be to stop, and even to adjust one's diet. The best approach is simply to keep track of the medications and supplements you are putting into your body, eat well, and all should be well.