Magnesium is important for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia because generally they are deficient in it and have additional concerns with the absorption of it. A magnesium deficiency contributes to many of the fibromyalgia symptoms and studies have shown taking magnesium alleviates some muscle pains but it is possible it may have a deeper role in assisting with other symptoms. Either way, it is one of the most fundamental supplements to be taken for the syndrome and studies showing it can help moderate symptoms.
A study in 2002 done by George Ramalanjaona for Alternative Medicine Alert concluded:
Based on preliminary data, Mg appears to be effective against tender point pain when used at high doses and in combination with malic acid.Based on currently available studies, Mg is a reasonable addition or an alternative to other known drug therapies in subgroups of FM patients that have low magnesium levels or receive high doses of B1.In addition, based on short-term studies, Mg seems to be effective in relieving well-known symptoms of FM and safe with only minimal and infrequent side effects. Further clinical trials with long-term analyses need to be performed to confirm preliminary findings”
Often people with fibromyalgia are deficient in magnesium
One reason for this may be due to the sleep disruptions common with fibromyalgia which causes a lower amount of growth hormone secretion. People with fibromyalgia do not spend enough time in deep restorative sleep which is when growth hormone secretion occurs. Growth hormone creates IGF-1 which is responsible for tissue repair but also affects intracellular levels of magnesium.
Signs of magnesium deficiency
• Loss of appetite
• Behavioural changes
• Restless leg syndrome
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle cramps
• Muscle spasms
How does a deficiency affect fibromyalgia directly?
Low levels of magnesium can cause a variety of symptoms because it is important for many functions in the body. It is needed for bone formation and therefore bones can become soft with a deficiency leading to osteoporosis. Magnesium is an activating mineral for approximately three hundred or more enzymes and therefore it is vital for many metabolic functions. It is necessary for almost all the enzymes, for example, that turn sugar and fat we eat into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). Low levels of ATP have been found in people with FM which could play a role in many symptoms of the syndrome. About twenty percent of the body’s ATP is found in the brain and low levels can diminish cognitive abilities which could be the cause of a predominate fibromyalgia symptom called fibro fog.
Magnesium is also needed in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin has been shown to be lower in people with FM and it is a neurotransmitter involved with how we perceive pain.
We also need magnesium for proper muscle functioning. A deficiency will cause muscle tension, spasms, twitches, and restlessness. Because magnesium can inhibit nerve receptors (NMDA or 5-HT3) which have been known to be associated with FM a deficiency may increase neuropathic associated pain. It is because magnesium can regulate nerve functions that a deficiency leads to nerves firing too easily from a minor stimulus. This can lead to such conditions as migraines or Raynaud’s phenomenon which are both comorbid with fibromyalgia as well as sensory over-sensitivity, arrhythmia, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to increasing levels of substance P, which is a major concern to people with FM as it is responsible for the persistent pain signal sent to the rest of the body.
How to get magnesium
Magnesium can be found in: whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, brown rice kidney and lima beans
Oral supplementation is an option, however, there may be concerns with absorption. Generally, with FM there are associated concerns of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other problems that cause difficulties with absorption. Additionally, magnesium oxide and citrate can have a laxative effect if you are having a problem digesting it. It can also take a great deal of time before magnesium levels are raised in the tissue and for there to be a noticeable difference in functions. Certain things such as fructose may interfere with magnesium getting into your system and phosphate will bind with magnesium in the stomach creating an insoluble salt.
You can get magnesium via Magnesium Oil and Epsom salts.
Dead Sea Magnesium oil is a brand I have used. Sometimes if you find it causes a bit of irritation you can just also rub a bit of coconut oil there as well. I typically use magnesium oil for migraines actually (one of many things I do for migraines).
Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Eucalyptus Spearmint Is my favourite Epsom salts. I have made my own before, but when I don’t, I like the scent of this one. This brand has a few different types, but this one is very relaxing for me. And you know, when I make my own I do tend to go with eucalyptus and peppermint actually. Fact is, I tend to have an Epsom salt bath at least every two days. And definitely after exercise.
It is best to take magnesium with food and it is best to take with calcium and Vitamin D. Ensure you have enough vitamin Bs in your diet as Bs are necessary for proper magnesium usage and most people with FM can be low in vitamin B’s due to stress. If you find you are experiencing the laxative effect with a type of magnesium then try another type that you may be able to digest better. The magnesium most recommended for FM is magnesium malate (naturally found in such things as apples). Another option is magnesium in liquid form (I use Quench Essentials Magnesium 4 in liquid form, since, yes, I have digestive issues with magnesium). The recommended dosage is 300-750 mg daily, but due to the difficulties one might have with digestion, it is recommended to start off slow and increase the dosage over time as you find comfortable.