Magnesium, a common mineral found in readily available, affordable supplements, is a critical building block for bones and DNA. It also helps cells communicate, making it an important part of the body’s overall functioning. Scientists have examined magnesium’s potential for helping people with chronic pain, particularly fibromyalgia or migraines.

Experts aren’t sure whether taking magnesium helps reduce chronic pain in itself, or if supplements address an underlying deficiency.

Recommended daily amounts are between 400 and 420 milligrams for adult men and 310 to 320 milligrams for adult women.

Foods high in magnesium include seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains. Some water, tap and bottled, is also rich in magnesium, but levels vary. Because the body stores most of its magnesium inside bones and cells, testing for adequate levels can be difficult.

Nevertheless, adequate levels of magnesium are critical for the body to function at optimal levels. Besides being a critical building block for the bones, magnesium plays an integral role in brain chemistry, although trials have produced mixed results regarding the mineral’s ability to protect against migraines.

Migraines 

People suffering from migraines may become magnesium deficient because they’re genetically unable to process the mineral, according to research published in the Journal of Neural Transmission. Whatever the reason, about 50% of people who develop migraines are magnesium deficient.

Studies attempting to measure magnesium’s impact on treating migraines have yielded inconclusive results, probably because not all patients tested were magnesium deficient, according to the research. Magnesium is safe and inexpensive, leading researchers to suggest that all people who experience migraines take the supplements.

Fibromyalgia

Some experts also believe that people with fibromyalgia have an underlying mineral deficiency, including magnesium, to blame.

A study in the journal Korean Medical Science found women with the disorder tested for multiple mineral deficiencies, including magnesium, calcium, and iron. A magnesium deficiency can hamper the body’s ability to deal with stress, and it can also lead to fatigue and difficulty sleeping, which are also symptoms of fibromyalgia.

A study in the International Journal of Rheumatology found that magnesium can help fibromyalgia patients manage their pain. Researchers correlated larger doses of magnesium to decreased fibromyalgia symptoms, including tender points and depression.

Because many studies have found magnesium to be effective against pain, and because testing for deficiency is so difficult, some doctors recommend all their chronic pain patients take the supplements. People should still consult their own doctors before adding new supplements to their regimen.

What do you think about the idea that magnesium could alleviate migraine or fibromyalgia symptoms?

Image by Health Gauge via Flickr

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