Does Magnesium Help With Sleep?
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Exploring the benefits of magnesium and answering whether magnesium supplements are beneficial

The Benefits of Magnesium

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral and plays an important role in many bodily processes such as energy production, carbohydrate metabolism, DNA and protein synthesis, and building bones through its relationship with calcium and vitamin D.  

Increasing research is showing magnesium’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure, decreasing the risk of stroke and heart disease, preventing migraines, reducing type 2 diabetes risk, and aiding in sleep.  

 This article will do a deep dive into the most recent research surrounding magnesium for sleep and whether magnesium supplements are beneficial. 

Does magnesium help with sleep? 

Let’s take a look at what the research says.  

One small-scale study on older adults showed improvement in sleep time, sleep efficiency, and sleep onset latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) with the supplementation of 500mg of magnesium daily.  

The pooled analysis of three randomized controlled trials showed similar results of improved total sleep time and sleep onset latency however the results were judged statistically insignificant. 

Interestingly, a small pilot study on participants with restless leg syndrome saw that supplemental magnesium decreased symptoms and therefore lead to decreased nighttime awakenings and improved sleep efficiency. This suggests that magnesium supplementation may be helpful for people with sleep-related movement disorders. 

Lastly, a systematic review of 9 different studies concluded that although observational studies suggest an association between magnesium status and sleep quality, randomized control trials reported contradictory findings.   

As these studies indicate, there has been some benefit seen to magnesium supplementation for sleep, however many of these studies were done with a small number of participants or a specific demographic population, making it hard to know whether these results may apply to the greater public. Ultimately, further research needs to be done to determine whether magnesium supplementation for sleep is beneficial for the general population.  

This probably leaves you wondering, “well should I or shouldn’t I take a magnesium supplement?”. Continue reading as we explore that question! 

Should I take a magnesium supplement? 

Besides the potential benefit of magnesium for sleep, magnesium plays an important role in a variety of other bodily processes. The benefits of magnesium have been linked to healthy blood pressure, migraine prevention, improvement in blood sugar parameters, improvement in constipation, and anti-inflammation.  

As you can see, magnesium has a variety of benefits, however, statistical data suggests that a significant portion of the Canadian population has inadequate magnesium intake levels. This may be because many foods high in magnesium are under-consumed or under-appreciated (hint: keep reading for a list of magnesium-rich foods).  

Other factors that may reduce overall magnesium levels are suboptimal vitamin D status (which may aid in magnesium absorption), boiling vegetables (boiling may reduce total magnesium content), smoking/drinking (may reduce magnesium absorption), and the potential of magnesium content in our soil decreasing over time.  

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) of magnesium for adults is 320-420mg/day. This amount can often be met through a balanced diet by including foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes.  

Magnesium supplementation may be beneficial when foods high in magnesium are not included often in the diet or if increased magnesium intake is otherwise warranted (such as with those with high blood pressure). 

If you’re concerned that you are not getting adequate magnesium in your diet, connect with one of our Dietitians who can help assist you in determining your magnesium intake status and providing recommendations on supplement options.  

Foods high in magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods are generally found in the following groupings. Consuming 1 serving from each of these groupings per day will go a long way in ensuring you are meeting your magnesium needs.  

Leafy greens – like spinach, kale, artichoke, and Swiss chard  

Nuts/Seeds – such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and cashews 

Fish – such as salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel 

Legumes – such as lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, and tofu 

Whole grains – such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and quinoa  

Assorted foods such as avocados, bananas, yogurt, and dark chocolate.  

These foods are not only important due to their magnesium content but also provide important nutrients like omega-3 fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals that support long-term health. 

If you struggle with sleep, magnesium supplementation may be worth considering in combination with optimizing your magnesium intake through a balanced diet if possible.  

Curious about other supplements and if you’re eating a healthy a diet? Our Dietitians can help!

Check out our virtual and in-person counselling services with our experienced team of Registered Dietitians. We’ve developed the tools, systems, and resources to help guide you on your journey of what, when, and how much to eat for optimal health.

We also specialize in weight concerns, meal planning, eating disorders, sports nutrition, digestive health, pediatric nutrition and more!

Did you know many employee health benefit plans covers Registered Dietitian services? 

Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here or simply contact us below to see how we can help you out:

Check out these related articles on our blog!

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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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