How should magnesium supplements be taken?

It is essential to follow a healthy diet and provide the body with all the necessary nutrients to keep it running in tiptop condition. However, it can be difficult to ensure you get enough essential minerals and vitamins through your diet alone. Magnesium is an important dietary mineral and one of the key metals used to maintain a healthy functioning body; however, only 30% to 40% of the magnesium in your diet is typically absorbed by the body which means that magnesium deficiency is extremely common.

When topping up your diet with a magnesium supplement, it’s important to do this in the correct manner so absorption is at an optimum. This guide will take you through the best ways to take magnesium supplements and answer some questions around dosages and timing.

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Why supply magnesium supplements in different forms?

Magnesium supplements are a good alternative method of ensuring we don't suffer from a magnesium deficiency. Many magnesium supplements come in the form of a tablet. However, many people find taking supplements difficult or unpleasant. If you struggle to take tablets, there are other options available for you. If you have a magnesium deficiency, Transdermal magnesium sprays and lotions provide an easy way for you to get the magnesium you need and top up the levels you receive through your diet. Magnesium sprays, creams, flakes and gels are all popular transdermal magnesium products. These products are particularly ideal for children and parents, as children generally don’t enjoy taking tablets or eating a magnesium rich diet, so sprays and creams can be much less stressful for parents to administer.

How should magnesium supplements be taken?

Sprays and lotions

Transdermal magnesium sprays and lotions are a quick and effective way to replenish your magnesium levels and prevent deficiency. These products can be taken on the move, and are available in a number of varieties. Using transdermal magnesium means the mineral quickly absorbs into the highly porous upper layer of your skin. This passes through to your blood vessels and muscles.

  • Sprays and lotions can be applied directly on to the skin, where the magnesium immediately begins to absorb.
  • Ensure they are quickly absorbed into the epidermis.
  • For lotions and creams, apply 5ml (4 pumps of lotion) onto the body and massage well into the skin to stimulate absorption.
  • You can apply anywhere on the body, avoiding sensitive areas and around the eyes.

Bath flakes

Flakes and soaks can be added directly into your bath. Ensure you read the instructions on each product to ensure you are adding the right amount. Our bath flakes and soaks work most effectively if you like to relax in the bath for 20 minutes.

Magnesium gel

Apply a pea sized amount and massage well into the skin to stimulate absorption. You can reapply whenever needed.


Due to its laxative nature, magnesium supplements should be taken with meals. If taken on an empty stomach or between meals, it can cause diarrhea. If you choose to take an oral supplement, try and avoid carbonates, as these are the hardest to absorb.

Most healthcare providers and doctors will recommend that you split the dosage between day and night. This means that you can divide your daily recommendation into two pills taken twice a day.

Because you’ll take it every day, it’s important to take a magnesium supplement regularly. Even if you’re not taking it at the most ideal time, this won’t affect the way it works. It is important to make sure you consume it as prescribed by your doctor.

You can read more about how to use transdermal magnesium here.

What are Transdermal magnesium sprays and lotions?

Magnesium sprays

Magnesium oil used in magnesium sprays is a concentration of magnesium chloride, sourced from 1,600 meters below the seabed. At BetterYou, we provide a range of sprays which have been specially formulated for different needs.

Magnesium lotions and creams

Magnesium lotions and creams combine essential magnesium chloride with rich, moisturizing ingredients. There are lotions and creams available that are designed to aid sleep.

Magnesium bath flakes, sometimes called magnesium bath salts are a highly concentrated form of magnesium supplementation. You can add these to your bath or footbath. Taking a bath with magnesium products helps promote relaxation and soothes tired and aching muscles (source).

Here is a list of the benefits of transdermal magnesium:

  • A quick way to replenish your body’s magnesium
  • Can be used on the move, and is ideal for busy lifestyles
  • Ideal for people who don’t like taking oral supplements
  • Improves your sleep quality
  • Supports bones in absorbing calcium

Magnesium intake and dosage FAQs

This section answers some of the most common questions we are asked relating to magnesium intake and dosage.

What are the side effects of magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium supplements may be required if you notice any of the following common symptoms related to magnesium deficiency:

  • Brittle nails and skin issues
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Regular muscle cramps and twitches
  • Muscles may feel weak or lack energy
  • Blood pressure may be higher than normal
  • Some tingling and numbness can be felt throughout the body
  • Difficulty sleeping

Are magnesium supplements safe?

Yes, magnesium supplements are safe to use by children, adults, older adults, and pregnant women. You should, however, speak to your doctor to make sure that these supplements don’t counteract any medications you’re taking.

Transdermal magnesium is a safe and effective method for absorbing magnesium. Magnesium flakes, lotions, sprays and soaks are all a pure concentration of magnesium chloride. Our transdermal magnesium products are free from man-made pollutants and safe for human consumption.

Is it safe to take a magnesium supplement daily?

Recommended doses of supplements are 200-420mg per day, with specific doses depending on the brand. Recommended doses also depend on your age and gender.

If you are taking transdermal magnesium, there is no upper tolerable limit so you can re-apply when needed. When using flakes or bath soaks, it is recommended to take a magnesium bath two to three times a week.

How fast do magnesium supplements work?

How fast magnesium works depends on how you are taking the magnesium. If you choose to take it as a pill, you’ll start to notice significant improvements a week after you start adding the supplement to your daily routine (source).

Transdermal magnesium products begin working straight away, as they are delivered directly to the epidermis. This bypasses the digestive system, where nutrients can be poorly absorbed and which is why so many people don’t get the magnesium they need through diet alone.

When should I take my magnesium supplement?

Experts suggest taking magnesium in the evening, due to the calming effect it has on the muscles and nervous system. Try and take magnesium within one to two hours of going to sleep.

If you use transdermal magnesium, rubbing in creams or spray before bed will reduce restlessness throughout the night. After a bath or shower is the best time to apply creams and lotions as the skin is warm and the pores are open, which aids absorption.

How long do magnesium supplements stay in your system?

Magnesium supplements are generally cleared from your body relatively quickly, and around 70% of the magnesium you consume is expelled from your body within 24 hours which is why so many people experience a deficiency. As transdermal magnesium is absorbed through the skin, it can be an ideal solution if you do not tolerate oral magnesium well.

How long should I take magnesium supplements for?

Magnesium can be a long-term supplement that you can take for years. Nevertheless, you should always check with your doctor to make sure that you’re not exceeding the recommended dosage. Your doctor will run regular lab tests to make sure that your magnesium levels are within the normal range. Transdermal magnesium can also be taken for as long as necessary.

What dosage of magnesium supplement should I take?

The dosage of magnesium supplement depends on the age and the health condition you’re suffering from. Here is a table that shows the adequate intake (AI) or recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium.




Birth to 6 months (AI)

30 mg

30 mg

7–12 months (AI)

75 mg

75 mg

1–3 years (RDA)

80 mg

80 mg

4–8 years (RDA)

130 mg

130 mg

9–13 years (RDA)

240 mg

240 mg

14–18 years (RDA)

410 mg

360 mg

19–30 years (RDA)

400 mg

310 mg

31–50 years (RDA)

420 mg

320 mg

51+ years (RDA)

420 mg

320 mg

Table: Recommended Daily Allowance / Intake of Magnesium for adults, infants and children. Source: Healthline

Pregnant women can take between 350 and 360 mg of magnesium to stay healthy during pregnancy in order to make sure that the baby’s development isn’t affected by a nutrient deficiency (source).

The side effects of magnesium

Can magnesium tablets make you feel sick?

Feeling sick after taking magnesium tablets is a common possible side effect. This often occurs when you take magnesium tablets on an empty stomach.

Can you overdose on magnesium tablets?

It is possible to overdose on magnesium tablets, and this is also known as hypermagnesemia. Like all supplements, taking a very high dosage doesn’t necessarily mean better or faster effects. Hypermagnesemia is rare but can cause the following symptoms (source):

  • Nausea
  • Neurological impairment
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat

Magnesium overdose when taking transdermal magnesium is much less likely, as the body only absorbs what is required. However, your body may react slightly through itching, stinging or skin-dryness the first few times you apply (source).

Can magnesium tablets make you itchy?

Experiencing itching after taking a magnesium supplement indicates an allergic reaction. Seek medical attention if you experience a rash, itching or swelling.

If you notice itching after using a transdermal magnesium product, this is likely an indicator that your body has low levels of magnesium (source). You can soothe this sensation by toweling your skin after massaging in the magnesium.

Magnesium levels and testing

How do you check for magnesium levels?

Taking a blood test is the most practical way to help you find out if you have a magnesium deficiency. This test can sometimes be run with a group of other tests, especially if you have a cardiac arrhythmia that causes your heartbeat to become irregular. If your doctor is unable to detect the reason behind your general weakness or fatigue, they will run a laboratory test for magnesium serum.

What are the correct levels of magnesium in adults?

The correct levels of magnesium are between 1.7-2.2 mg/dL.

Can I crush magnesium tablets?

This depends on the type of tablets or pills you’re taking. Some tablets can be crushed or chewed but this is not common. Most magnesium supplements should be swallowed to deliver the needed benefits. If you’re not comfortable taking the pills, you can always choose a spray or lotion.

Can magnesium be taken with other vitamins?

In most cases, magnesium doesn’t contradict with how other supplements work. Combining magnesium with other vitamins and minerals guarantees that your body will be receiving the needed nutrients that can boost the way all enzymes work. Here are some vitamins that are commonly taken alongside magnesium:


Magnesium and calcium are often paired together in supplements. This is because magnesium is key to how your body uses calcium. Without magnesium, calcium can deposit itself in soft tissues, kidneys, arteries and cartilage rather than bones where it has the greatest advantage (source). A general rule is to take the same level of calcium as magnesium. This means taking 500mg of calcium if you take 500mg levels of magnesium.

Vitamin D

Magnesium is also known to regulate vitamin D, another essential nutrient for bone health. Studies have shown that vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels (source). Similarly, if you take too much vitamin D, it can deplete your magnesium levels.


Zinc and magnesium work to each other’s advantage when taken in the right doses. Taking them together is so popular that a lot of oral supplements combine the two. Magnesium helps your body regulate its zinc levels, while zinc enables it to absorb magnesium more efficiently. However, it is important to check with a GP for the recommended dose.

Vitamin B

Rather than competing for absorption inside your body, magnesium and vitamin B work well in tandem to promote function of the nervous system. They both contribute to energy yielding metabolism and reduce tiredness. It is also common for people to take vitamin B6 with magnesium to ease mood swings occurring with pre-menstrual syndrome.


Potassium and magnesium are often taken together for some illnesses and diseases. However, they are not often prescribed simply to keep up mineral intake. It is fairly easy to seek the recommended allowance of potassium in foods such as bananas, fish and vegetables.

Sources & Further Reading

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