TikTok influencers are obsessed with magnesium — why health experts agree

A 2018 study in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association estimated that up to half of Americans are deficient in magnesium.

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Need to increase your level of magnesium? Experts suggest trying magnesium-rich foods such as avocados, dark leafy greens, bananas, seeds, beans and nuts instead of supplements.

Need to increase your level of magnesium? Experts suggest trying magnesium-rich foods such as avocados, dark leafy greens, bananas, seeds, beans and nuts instead of supplements.

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Magnesium supplements are all the rage on TikTok.

Any health trend lauded online as a one-stop shop for curing a laundry list of ailments should be viewed with a critical eye. But in the case of TikTok influencers promoting takingmagnesium, many nutrition experts are thrilled that the nutrient is finally getting more widespread recognition so it can be implemented more regularly into diets.

A 2018 study in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association estimated that up to half of Americans are deficient in magnesium.

“Magnesium is a pretty prevalent deficiency out there … and nobody really talks about it,” says Joel Totoro, a registered dietitian and director of sports science for vitamin and supplement brand Thorne.

What is magnesium good for?

In short, a lot.

Experts laud magnesium as a regulator of hundreds of biochemical reactions that help to create serotonin and regulate important things including stress hormones, sleep quality, hydration and muscle growth and recovery.

“If you had to sum it up, magnesium does kind of just relax things,” Totoro says. “It’s needed to relax muscles. We tend to recommend people take their dose before bed just because it does relax the brain.”

Deficiency in magnesium has been linked to depression, decreased dopamine levels, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fatigue and low libido, says Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutritional biologist and author of “This is Your Brain on Food.”

What does magnesium do for you?

Totoro has worked with athletes who struggled with what felt like cramping muscles and were found to be deficient in magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements helped them find relief.

“If you are seeking dietary strategies to improve your mental health, resilience and sleep quality, optimizing your magnesium status is an important piece,” Naidoo says, though she recommends a “food-first approach when it comes to getting essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients.”

That means first consider changing your diet before spending money on supplements.

Which foods have magnesium?

If you want to increase your magnesium intake, reach for foods such as:

  • Dark, leafy greens.
  • Avocados.
  • Almonds.
  • Black beans.
  • Quinoa.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Bananas.

Magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate

If you can’t get enough magnesium through dietary changes, Totoro usually recommends one of two types of magnesium supplements: magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate. He says these types are more easily absorbed by the body and don’t linger in the gut for long, which can trigger diarrhea or other bowel movement issues. For those with sensitive stomachs, Totoro suggests magnesium glycinate.

It’s always best to exercise caution when taking a new supplement. Naidoo recommends consulting a doctor about taking a red blood cell magnesium test to determine any deficiencies and sticking to the recommended serving to avoid serious side effects.

Another reason Naidoo recommends a diet-first approach to get in magnesium: Kidneys eliminate excess magnesium from food, but higher-dose magnesium supplements can lead to some unwanted gastrointestinal reactions.

“If you take too much, you’ll know,” Totoro says.

Read more at usatoday.com.

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