Magnesium is the number one mineral supplement recommended for fibromyalgia. Its deficiency is common in developed countries and is also said to be one of the causes of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Though available from dietary sources, western diet does not include many magnesium rich sources and hence the need for supplementation. This mineral has many uses in the body:
• Maintaining electrolyte balance
• Serving as a cofactor for enzymes
• Maintaining bone health
• Preserving brain and nervous system health
Though magnesium alone can’t treat fibromyalgia, it’s supplementation is found to help in reducing many symptoms of the disorder. Let’s understand why.
7 Proven Reasons Why Magnesium Supplement May Benefit In Fibromyalgia
Magnesium deficiency is observed in fibromyalgia but apart from that it’s supplementation is found to ameliorate many conditions which have symptoms similar to fibromyalgia.
For example, it may have a sedative effect, and this can be beneficial in insomnia as well as improve sleep quality in fibromyalgia.
Here are a couple of reasons why this mineral may help in fibro:
1. Supplementation with magnesium may help alleviate mineral deficiency
A hair mineral analysis study in women with fibromyalgia revealed that the patients have lower levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese than normal individuals.
Even intracellular calcium-magnesium balance may be disturbed in fibromyalgia. Sendur et al. demonstrated that low levels of zinc are associated with tender joints while low levels of magnesium may correspond to increased levels of fatigue in fibro.
Quick Gist: Some patients with fibromyalgia present with magnesium deficiency. This can be alleviated with supplementation or dietary changes.
2. It can reduce pain
When looking for natural therapy to reduce pain in rheumatic conditions and arthritis, we come across that tip stating soaking the affected region in warm water with Epsom salts.
Complex regional pain syndrome is uncommon chronic pain that may occur after injury. Intramuscular treatment with magnesium sulphate serves as a muscle relaxant in such cases.
A study published in Anaesthesia, 2013 reported how intravenous and oral magnesium supplementation helped improve mobility and reduce pain in patients with chronic relapsing low back pain.
Quick Gist: Magnesium supplementation is found to relieve pain in chronic conditions. This property may benefit in pain relief in fibromyalgia.
3.It improves muscle strength and function
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with muscle weakness and cramps. One aspect that is actively researched upon in fibro is reduced ATP or cellular energy levels.
Reduced ATP contributes to increased fatigue, impaired muscle function, impaired cognitive function and lowered antioxidant status.
A study published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research reveals that dietary magnesium can help counteract age related muscle mass loss and improves muscle strength in women.
Supplementation with this mineral in athletes is found to improve muscle strength and performance. But a study in middle aged overweight women did not find magnesium better than placebo in improving muscle function and strength.
Quick Gist: Magnesium is involved in muscle relaxation and contraction. Studies prove that supplementation with this mineral improves muscle strength and performance.
4. It can improve sleep
The biological clock and hormone melatonin regulate sleep-wake cycle, and magnesium has a sedative effect. This can be beneficial for sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia.
Melatonin combined with magnesium and zinc is found to improve sleep quality in 8 weeks.
Also, supplementation of the mineral alone has been proven to improve sleep quality and reduce inflammatory stress in middle aged individuals.
A study published in Japanese Circulation Journal, 1998 reported how magnesium supplementation improved exercise performance even in the state of chronic sleep deprivation.
Quick Gist: Chronic pain can impair sleep in fibromyalgia. Even magnesium deficiency can cause sleep disturbances. The mineral has a sleep inducing effects and can ameliorate sleep disturbances.
6. Magnesium benefits mental health
Fibromyalgia can present with symptoms like impaired cognition, reduced memory recall, and depressive symptoms.
Various studies have explored the benefits of magnesium for mental health. Its deficiency may be prevalent in depressed individuals.
A group of researchers from Iran observed that supplementing such individuals with 500mg magnesium oxide daily for eight weeks restored magnesium levels and reduced depressive symptoms.
In fact, a study proves that oral magnesium supplementation is as effective as imipramine 50 mg (antidepressant) in reducing depressive symptoms and alleviating hypomagnesia in type 2 diabetes patients.
Quick Gist: Magnesium supplementation may reduce depressive symptoms and aid in combating fibro fog.
7. It improves metabolic health
This can lead to insulin resistance or reduced responsiveness to insulin and affect metabolic health. A study published in Metabolic Brain Disease, 2013 suggests that insulin resistance may serve as a risk factor for cognitive impairment for fibromyalgia.
Though not studied about fibromyalgia, we will go over some studies that demonstrate the benefits of magnesium supplementation for metabolic disorders.
Researchers from the University of California, LA have shown how four-week supplementation with this vital mineral can change gene expression of metabolic pathways in obese individuals.
Quick Gist: Magnesium supplementation benefits in metabolic disorders. It may help in improving metabolic health and reducing insulin resistance in fibromyalgia patients. More research is required to confirm this.
How effective is magnesium in fibromyalgia therapy?
A few studies have investigated the effectiveness of magnesium as a natural therapy for fibromyalgia. Back in 1995, Russell and his colleagues examined the effect of magnesium and malic acid in fibromyalgia.
24 individuals were treated with a proprietary supplement containing 200 mg malic acid and 50mg magnesium (3 tablets twice a day) for four weeks followed by dose escalation (6 tablets twice a day) for six months.
The first dose did not lead to any significant improvement. However, the high dose and longer duration phase led to a reduction in pain and tenderness.
Many individuals have reported the benefits of magnesium malate, and you can read more about how malic acid may help in fibromyalgia in this article.
Bagis et al. treated 60 premenopausal fibromyalgia patients with oral magnesium supplements.
This study was published in Rheumatology International, 2013. Patients were assigned to 3 groups and were treated as follows:
• 300mg of magnesium citrate per day
• 10 mg amitriptyline (antidepressant) per day
• Combination of the above two therapies
After eight weeks various parameters were assessed to determine the effect of the treatment. Magnesium levels were lower in fibromyalgia patients compared with healthy individuals.
Magnesium supplementation reduced fibromyalgia symptoms. Reduction in pain, tender points and depressive symptoms was observed.
Magnesium alone was effective in reducing pain and tenderness, but the combination therapy helped alleviate all symptoms except numbness.
Now, these results are promising, but some experts feel that many sedatives alone are proven to improve fibromyalgia symptoms, and this could be the reason why there was such significant improvement. Nevertheless, they still suggest opting for magnesium considering the risks, costs, and benefits of conventional therapy.
Apart from oral magnesium, the effects of topical magnesium for pain relief have also been studied.
Researchers from Mayo Clinic conducted a clinical trial where 40 female patients with fibromyalgia were treated with transdermal magnesium chloride. They were given a spray formulation and asked to apply four sprays per limb twice a day. The study lasted for four weeks.
Significant reduction in fibromyalgia symptoms was observed as early as week 2.
I have come across only three studies that investigate the benefits of magnesium in fibromyalgia, and the results are positive.
Quick Gist: Oral and topical magnesium is proven to reduce pain, tenderness and depressive symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. Magnesium malate is also proven to be beneficial.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium For Fibromyalgia
The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is around 300-400mg for adults. Leafy greens such as spinach and chards are rich in this mineral. Nuts such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts are also excellent sources.
Yogurt, Swiss cheese, and dark chocolate provide 5-82% RDA per 100g. For more details on foods rich in magnesium, please check out this resource.
Dosage Of Magnesium for Fibromyalgia
Varieties of oral magnesium supplements are available as magnesium salts. There is a concern regarding their bioavailability and absorption.
Magnesium if not absorbed can have a laxative effect. Also, its uptake is found to be dependent on the mineral’s reserves in the body. Supplementation is advised only in case of deficiency.
The studies mentioned above use a dose of 300mg magnesium citrate or malate 1-2 times per day. It is advisable to start with a low dose and increase gradually. Taking calcium and vitamin B complex is recommended for better utilization of magnesium.
Magnesium chloride, lactate, aspartate, and citrate are found to have better bioavailability than magnesium oxide. However, magnesium citrate is also used as a laxative.
Magnesium glyconate also help in reducing gastric side effects associated with the mineral. Magnesium in combination with a malic acid or magnesium malate is also reported to be beneficial in some patients.
Time release formulations and liquid magnesium may help in cases where regular supplements do not benefit. Consumption of magnesium rich mineral water after meals improves its bioavailability.
Topical magnesium gel can be used for pain relief, but it may cause skin irritation. A simple alternative to this a hot water mixed with Epsom salts for soaking the affected region.
Use warm water and 1 cup of Epsom salts for standard size bath tub. Soak for 15-20 minutes once a week. Avoid in case of open cuts or wounds on the affected region.
Consult a health practitioner before using oral or topical magnesium supplements.
Magnesium if not absorbed can act as a laxative. It is important to identify which supplement suits you. Magnesium malate and magnesium glyconate are safe for the stomach.
Start with small doses and increase gradually to avoid side effects.
High dose supplementation of the mineral can have serious side effects such as vomiting, lowered blood pressure, confusion, coma, cardiac arrest, abnormal heart beat rhythm, etc.
Magnesium supplements may interact with medications such as blood sugar lowering drugs, antibiotics, blood pressure medications, HRT, and steroids. Please check the complete list as mentioned by UMM.
Consult a health practitioner before taking oral magnesium supplements.
Magnesium shows therapeutic potential as a natural remedy for fibro pain. It can help in the disorder if diagnosed with a mineral deficiency. Studies show that it can improve sleep and reduce pain and tenderness.
It is recommended to test for magnesium deficiency along with levels of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B complex.
The mineral tends to have a laxative effect. Hence it is necessary to identify a good supplement that suits you.
One can always include magnesium rich foods in their diet. This mineral alone may not be the cure for the disorder, but in case of deficiency and combination with other medications, it may bring relief in fibromyalgia.