When Should You Be Taking Your Magnesium Supplement?

When should you be taking your magnesium supplement?

Morning? Night? Afternoon? Experts explain.

BY NOW, YOU’VE probably heard that you need to be getting more magnesium in your diet. According to a study published in Open Heart in 2018, around 15 to 20 percent of people in developed countries don’t consume the proper amount of magnesium per day. Considering magnesium is a vital nutrient that supports proper function of our muscles and nerves—you want to be sure you’re getting enough. ‘Enough’ is considered 400 milligrams per day for men ages 19 to 30, and 420 milligrams per day for men 31 and over.

Unfortunately, consuming enough via diet alone is difficult to do—unless you’re a huge fan of pumpkin seeds (which contain about 156 mg per serving). Other foods that contain magnesium, such as almonds and chia seeds, only contain small amounts: 80 mg and 111 mg per serving, respectively. Luckily, magnesium supplements are generally safe and can boost your intake.

If you’re going to spend your money on magnesium supplements, you want to ensure you’re taking them properly for effective absorption. We talked to nutritionists about the ins and outs of when and how to take your supplement.

When’s the best time to take magnesium?

The best time to take a magnesium supplement will be different for everyone, depending on a number of factors.

“Magnesium, being a mineral, is regulated differently in the body and does not follow the same solubility patterns as vitamins,” says Erin Kenney, M.S., R.D. “The timing of magnesium supplementation can depend on your specific health goals, the type of magnesium you are taking, and individual response.”

The mineral is touted as a sleep aid (though the science is still unclear)—so some people may find a lingering drowsy effect after taking it and prefer to take it at night. If you are taking for sleep, it’s recommended to take it about 30 minutes prior to bedtime, says Perri Halperin, M.S., R.D., clinical nutrition coordinator at Mount Sinai Health System. Others may find it actually helps their energy levels, and prefer to take it in the morning.

It’s all about how it cooperates with your body—but it’s safe to take at any time.

How to take magnesium supplements

Generally, it’s recommended that you take your magnesium supplement with food. The presence of food causes the stomach to release digestive enzymes that help breakdown the supplement more efficiently, Kenney says.

Taking a magnesium supplement without food may also make some nauseous or experience gastrointestinal stress. Some may experience symptoms like diarrhea. Food may minimize these effects.

It is important to note that calcium can interfere with the absorption of magnesium, Halperin says. “To that end, it’s best to take any calcium supplements at a different meal than your magnesium supplement.”

Benefits of magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral our bodies need to survive. It supports muscle and nerve function, and also plays a role in energy production.

Magnesium deficiency is becoming more and more common, according to the World Health Organization. Low levels of magnesium don’t cause significant symptoms, but it is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, headaches, asthma, and colon cancer.

Magnesium dosage

If you’re thinking about starting a magnesium supplement, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician to ensure you’re buying the correct type and amount for your body. Of course, some will come from your diet, so the National Institutes of Health recommend taking no more than 350 mg from a supplement. Getting too much magnesium can be hazardous to your health—causing symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

Supplementation may also depend on what kind of magnesium you’re taking. Some forms, like magnesium aspartate, citrate, lactate and chloride are more bioavailable—meaning they’re better absorbed and utilized by the body.

Magnesium supplements can also interfere with some antibiotics and other medications, including bisphosphonates, a common drug used to treat osteoporosis, diuretics, and proton pump inhibitors—another reason it’s extra important to consult with a medical professional prior to beginning a supplement regimen.

The bottom line:

Food should always be your priority to obtain nutrients, but supplements are a possible option if you’re still not getting in enough of a certain nutrient. Always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement. If they do advise you start one, the best time to take it is whatever time you’re going to remember to take it consistently.

“If you’re taking a supplement as recommended by your doctor or healthcare provider, it is ideal to take it in a way that promotes best absorption,” says Halperin. “But, if you can’t remember to take it at that time, you’re not absorbing anything at all!”

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.

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