Have you ever felt nauseous and did not know what to take to reduce this? If the answer is yes, magnesium may be the perfect solution for you.
Nausea is feeling the urge to vomit, sometimes referred to as “being sick to your stomach”. As we can imagine, this is a very uncomfortable feeling and is something that most people experience during their lifetime for different reasons. Some of the common mild problems that induce nausea include food allergies, infections, medical treatments, motion sickness, and morning sickness during pregnancy.1 It is estimated that an average of 70-80% of pregnant women in the population experience nausea due to morning sickness with 50% of them experiencing vomiting.2 To control nausea and vomiting, it is advised to eat light, bland foods slower and eat smaller portions than normal. However, this is not always functional and effective, meaning that people still get nauseous after taking home remedies. This is why the consumption of magnesium-rich foods or magnesium supplements can be the perfect solution.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the human body to maintain health. It contributes to a minimum of 300 biochemical reactions in the body with its main functions revolving around regulating nerve and muscle function whilst maintaining a healthy immune system.3 Depending on sex and age, the average amount of magnesium a person needs can vary. For example, men need an average of 400-420 mg whilst non-pregnant women need an average of 310-320 mg. The amount of magnesium needed also depends largely on the diet. People with diets containing a high level of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, are likely to need more magnesium.
People normally acquire their daily dose of magnesium through various magnesium-rich food sources which either contain magnesium naturally or are added artificially. Some examples of foods containing natural magnesium include legumes, milk, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, whilst other food sources such as breakfast cereals are fortified with magnesium. Regardless of this, it was estimated the diets of men older than 70 and teenage girls and boys in the United States, was still lacking in magnesium. In the short term, magnesium deficiency does not cause obvious symptoms due to our kidneys which regulate magnesium levels by limiting the amount lost in the urine. However, this is a very important issue that everyone should be aware of as in the long term, it can lead to side effects depending on the level of magnesium deficiency. These symptoms range from loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue to more severe symptoms like numbness, seizures, muscle cramps, changes in personality, and abnormal heart rhythm reinforcing the need for a high magnesium diet. It is also important to note that previous medical conditions such as type-2 diabetes, people who suffer from gastrointestinal disease or long-term alcoholism, and elderly people are more prone to magnesium deficiency. To overcome this, there are many magnesium supplements available that can be taken to replace the missing magnesium in the body.4
How does magnesium affect nausea?
Magnesium is a very essential mineral that helps people by supporting muscle and nerve function and energy production. Due to the important role of magnesium in the body, taking magnesium-rich foods and magnesium supplements can help alleviate some conditions. It was noted that magnesium supplements can help with nausea, head and neck tension, muscle aches, stress, and sleeplessness.3 In this article, we will be focusing more on the use of magnesium to help relieve nausea.
One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is nausea, therefore sometimes magnesium uptake can simply reduce this by just replenishing the supply of magnesium. Therefore the use of supplementary magnesium can replenish the missing magnesium2 resulting in less morning sickness and nausea.
The basic science and principle behind the way magnesium reduces nausea is due to its linked roles with neurotransmitters. Magnesium regulates the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, which control nausea and vomiting. Serotonin has also been linked with insomnia and anxiety. Therefore, by increasing the amount of magnesium uptake, it can control levels of anxiety and reduce insomnia5 which can be the cause of nausea.
In addition, due to the diverse roles and the many different pathways that magnesium regulates, magnesium can ease the stomach which in turn helps to control nausea. It is involved in the regulation of muscle contractions that can calm an upset stomach, leading to a reduction in nausea.6 However, the benefits of magnesium are still being discovered and more research is needed to confirm the exact mechanisms through which magnesium can reduce nausea.
Which magnesium is good for nausea?
There are many types of magnesium available found in different food sources of magnesium supplements. If there are a variety of different sources, how do you know which one is the best one for you? Below is a list of some of the different types of magnesium that can be taken for different circumstances.
Magnesium citrate is normally found in citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, grapefruits, and lemons. This type of magnesium is bound with citric acid and can be used as a preservative in certain food products due to its smell and flavour. It also has some laxative effects and can be used to treat constipation, which is commonly experienced with nausea.
Magnesium oxide is a salt formed from the combination of magnesium and oxygen. This form of magnesium is not absorbed by the body and should only be taken in the short term. It is normally used to help people with type 2 diabetes and migraines.
Magnesium chloride is a magnesium salt and chlorine is absorbed well by the digestive tract. It can be used to increase magnesium levels as well as alleviate symptoms of too much stomach acid. A build of stomach acid contributes to nausea.
Magnesium lactate is formed from the binding of magnesium with lactic acid. The properties of magnesium lactate make it easily absorbed meaning that it is handled better by the digestive system allowing users to consume and tolerate high amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium malate is made up of malic acid and magnesium. Compared to other magnesium types, magnesium malate does not have a very strong laxative effect. Therefore, if you have nausea with diarrhea, it may be the best form of magnesium.7
These are just some of the different types of magnesium supplements available, but there are many more which can be purchased either over the counter or through a prescription. Please consult a health specialist to find out more.
How much magnesium should I take for nausea?
The amount of magnesium intake varies depending on the sex and age of the person, as well as any medical conditions or pregnancy. Below is a list of ages and sexes with the corresponding advised magnesium intake needed daily:3
- Birth to 6 months: 30 mg/day
- 6 months to 1 year: 75 mg/day
- 1 to 3 years old: 80 milligrams
- 4 to 8 years old: 130 milligrams
- 9 to 13 years old: 240 milligrams
- 14 to 18 years old (boys): 410 milligrams
- 14 to 18 years old (girls): 360 milligrams
- Adult males: 400 to 420 milligrams
- Adult females: 310 to 320 milligrams
- Pregnancy: 350 to 400 milligrams
- Breastfeeding women: 310 to 360 milligrams3
Side effects and other concerns
Whilst magnesium supplements are very good and can help with nausea as well, as other problems. It is important to be aware of the daily upper limits. This does not apply to magnesium found in natural drinks and food sources and only applies to only magnesium consumed through dietary supplements and medication. In an adult and child between 9-18 years of age, the maximum recommended is around 350mg. Excess magnesium can lead to diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cardiac arrest, and in some cases when there is too much magnesium it can even lead to irregular heartbeats and cardiac arrest.4
Before taking any supplements, it is always advisable to check with a medical specialist, not only to find out the recommended dose but to also check if the magnesium is compatible with previous medications. Some examples of medication that is not advisable to take with magnesium supplements include bisphosphates, antibiotics , diuretics,, prescription drugs, and high doses of zinc supplements. This is because the magnesium may interfere with the previous medication resulting in side effects. When magnesium supplements are taken with antibiotics, it may render the antibiotics ineffective as they won't be able to absorb as well. Whilst combining magnesium supplements with prescribed drugs targeted to treat acid reflux or peptic ulcers in the long term can result in low blood levels of magnesium leading to other more severe problems.4
Nausea is a very uncomfortable feeling expressed by different people for a variety of reasons ranging from morning sickness to anxiety and stress. One good way to ease the symptoms of nausea is magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for over 300 biochemical reactions controlling various aspects of the body. Depending on the sex, age, and any pre-existing medical conditions, the amount of magnesium intake required daily varies. Magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, milk, and oats are great natural sources of magnesium. However, there are magnesium supplements that can be acquired either over-the-counter or through a prescription that can replenish the levels of magnesium. There are various forms of magnesium available that can be taken depending on circumstances including magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium oxide.
Whilst the use of magnesium has many advantages and can help with nausea, muscle cramps, and fatigues , there are important factors that need to be taken into consideration. For example, too much magnesium can cause severe side effects such as diarrhea, worsen nausea, or cardiac arrest. Therefore it is always advisable to check with health specialists so they can advise on the recommended dose. In addition, magnesium supplements can interfere with previous medication such as antibiotics, biphosphates, and other prescription drugs.
- Phillips MM. Nausea and Vomiting [Internet]. Pennmedicine.org. 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 7]. Available from: https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/nausea-and-vomiting
- Heitmann K, Nordeng H, Havnen GC, Solheimsnes A, Holst L. The burden of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy: severe impacts on quality of life, daily life functioning and willingness to become pregnant again – results from a cross-sectional study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth [Internet]. 2017 Feb 28 [cited 2023 Feb 7];17(1). Available from: https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-017-1249-0
- Magnesium in diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. medlineplus.gov. 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm#:~:text=Magnesium%20is%20needed%20for%20more
- National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesium [Internet]. Nih.gov. 2016. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/
- Arora G. Deficiency Of This One Mineral May Be Causing Low Mood, Anxiety And Insomnia: Know What It Is [Internet]. NDTV.com. 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.ndtv.com/health/magnesium-deficiency-of-this-mineral-may-be-causing-low-mood-anxiety-and-insomnia-2237357
- Raman R. What Does Magnesium Do for Your Body? [Internet]. Healthline. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-magnesium-do#:~:text=Magnesium%20also%20plays%20a%20role
- Hill A. 10 Interesting Types of Magnesium (and What to Use Each For) [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-types