The Exact Right Time to Take Your Magnesium Supplement


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Magnesium is a super-essential mineral that helps our bodies function at their best — it helps keeps our nerves and muscles functioning at their peak, and our immune system humming along healthfully. “Magnesium is important for energy production, glucose metabolism, and how our DNA is actually synthesized in our body,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN. “It supports neuron health, bone health and heart health. In fact, it’s a cofactor for more than 300 different enzyme processes in the body.”

But plenty of people don’t feel they’re getting enough of the nutrient through food, and decide to supplement their diet with a magnesium supplement. “The NIH says that half of the U.S. population isn’t eating the right amount of magnesium in food. And the blood tests to check for whether you’re getting enough are not very accurate,” says Blatner.

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If you’re someone who has made taking magnesium supplements a part of your daily routine, you may wonder what’s the best time of day to take it. Read on for information about magnesium and the best way to take magnesium supplements.

Magnesium-deficiency symptoms

According to the NIH, early signals that a person might be deficient in magnesium are a bit vague: You might experience a loss of appetite, lethargy or a feeling of weakness. You might also be low in magnesium or have a deficiency if you have muscle cramps or muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, or sleep issues, “like feeling very sleepy, or chronic fatigue type symptoms,” Blatner says.

Even though the NIH says that many people aren’t getting enough magnesium via food, the people who are most at risk of being truly deficient in magnesium are older adults, people with type 2 diabetes, those with GI diseases, and people who are alcohol-dependent.

What is the best time to take magnesium?

“You can really take magnesium any time of day — preferably with a meal,” says Blatner. “Take it when you’re going to remember to consistently take it.” But in part, you may want to consider what type of magnesium supplement you’re taking:

“Magnesium glycinate is taken by some people for relaxation, so some people will take that in the evening, to help with sleep,” says Blatner. “But it’s not necessary to wait until evening—if you take it earlier, it’s not going to put you to sleep.” According to a 2021 study review published in BMC Complementary Medicines and Therapies, there isn’t evidence that magnesium is effective for insomnia. But the study also said that because the supplements tend to be low-cost and widely available, it’s ok to try a small dose if you want to see if it will help you sleep.

Benefits of magnesium

There’s evidence that taking magnesium supplements could help with certain health conditions, though some of the studies were limited in scope. A small 2014 study on patients with type 2 diabetes showed that taking 300 mg of magnesium for three months helped them control their blood sugar. And taking magnesium supplements could possibly help reduce the number of migraine headaches in people who suffer from them regularly, according to a 2018 study review. Another small study done in 2017 showed that one type of magnesium — magnesium chloride —helped ease mild to moderate symptoms of depression over a period of six weeks.

Dosage

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women should get 310-320 mg of magnesium per day, and men should get 400-420 mg. There are lots of ways to get this key nutrient via the foods you eat: Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, beans, leafy veggies and seeds. “I tell people, eat spinach, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, edamame, potatoes, tuna, almonds, cashews, peanuts, avocados, yogurt, oatmeal and bananas,” says Blatner.

You won’t hurt your body by getting more than the recommended amount of magnesium via food; the foods that are good sources of it are healthy options anyway, and if you end up getting too much magnesium from these foods, your body will pee out any extra.

However, taking too much magnesium via supplements can definitely post a health risk, and some people find that any amount can cause GI symptoms, including diarrhea and nausea. (Keep in mind that some medications and dietary supplements, such as some antacids and laxatives, also contain magnesium, so don’t ignore that when figuring out how much to take.) Says Blatner, “The recommendation is not to exceed 350mg/day in supplement form — that’s considered the safe upper limit.”

Bottom line: When it comes to magnesium supplements, the time of day you take them matters less than taking them consistently. “If you’re taking it for constipation or for sleep,” says Blatner, “then consider taking it with a meal or snack closer to bedtime. And it’s always a good idea to talk to an RD about how much to take, and which type is best for your situation.”

Headshot of Lisa Bain

Executive Director

Lisa (she/her) is the executive director of the Hearst Health Newsroom, a team that produces health and wellness content for Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Woman’s Day. Formerly the executive editor of Women’s Health, The Good Life and Parenting magazines and a senior editor at Esquire and Glamour, she specializes in producing investigative health reports and other stories that help people live their healthiest possible lives. She has won many editing awards, including the National Magazine Award.

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Nutrition Lab Director

Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.



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