Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Magnesium Chloride Bad For You?

Also Known As: MgCl2



Short answer

In appropriate doses, magnesium chloride is not bad for you and provides several health benefits, including muscle and nerve function, heart and bone health, mental well-being, and regulating blood pressure and blood glucose levels. It's generally safe with a better absorption rate compared to other forms of magnesium. However, excessive intake can cause side effects like gastrointestinal distress and electrolyte imbalances. It interacts with certain medications and conditions, and considering the quality and potential contaminants in supplements is crucial for safety.



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Long answer

Roles and Benefits of Magnesium Chloride in the Body

Magnesium chloride, a type of magnesium salt, is an essential mineral boasting a plethora of roles within the human body. It's involved in over 300 biochemical reactions and is crucial for maintaining various physiological functions. Before we dive into the gritty details, let's establish a baseline understanding of this mineral's multifaceted influence on our health.

  • Maintaining Muscle and Nerve Function: Magnesium is a key player in neuromuscular transmission and activity. It helps regulate muscle contractions and acts as a natural calcium antagonist, which is vital for normal muscle relaxation. Consequently, sufficient levels of magnesium are linked to reduced muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Energy Production: This mineral is indispensable in the process of energy creation. It activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, thus contributing significantly to energy metabolism and physical stamina.
  • Heart Health: Magnesium's role in maintaining a healthy heart rhythm is well-documented. It supports the electrical activity of the heart and the health of blood vessels, which helps maintain normal blood pressure and heart function.
  • Bone Integrity: While calcium often takes the spotlight for bone health, magnesium is just as crucial. It influences the bone mineral matrix and its metabolism, aiding in the development and maintenance of strong, healthy bones.
  • Regulating Blood Glucose Levels: Magnesium assists in the regulation of insulin action and glucose metabolism, which can be significant for those managing conditions like diabetes or insulin resistance.
  • Supporting Mental Health: Sufficient magnesium levels may have a positive effect on neurotransmitter functions, which can influence mood and support mental health. Studies have explored magnesium's potential in managing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
  • Detoxification Processes: As part of its diverse roles, magnesium contributes to the body's detoxification processes, aiding in the elimination of toxins and heavy metals. This can enhance overall health and well-being.
  • Protein Synthesis: Given its involvement in DNA and RNA synthesis, magnesium is crucial for the process of protein synthesis, which is essential for the growth and repair of body tissues.
  • Sleep Regulation: Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system, which may help improve sleep quality. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, it encourages relaxation and can be beneficial in addressing sleep disorders.

However, the benefits of magnesium chloride specifically relate to its bioavailability – that is, the efficiency with which it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Compared to other forms of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride is believed to have superior absorption rates, making it a potentially more effective option for supplementing this essential mineral.

It's also worth noting that rigorous research backs many of the health claims associated with magnesium. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, a significant number of Americans fail to consume adequate amounts of magnesium, which underscores its importance as a supplement for those who fall short on dietary intake.

Another study from the International Journal of Hypertension highlights magnesium chloride's potential in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, while research in the Journal of Pain & Relief suggests a role in managing chronic pain conditions.

Delving deeper, a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition throws light on magnesium's ability to stabilize the building blocks of proteins, enzymes, and cell membranes. This contributes substantively to its critical roles in the body.

While the purported benefits are promising, understanding the appropriate dosage, potential interactions with other medications or supplements, and considering individual health conditions are imperative to ensure magnesium chloride's efficacy and safety. It's essential to remember that supplements are most beneficial when used to augment a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, rather than as a standalone solution for health improvements.

Potential Side Effects of Magnesium Chloride Supplementation

Magnesium chloride, like all supplements, comes with a set of potential side effects that need to be carefully considered. While magnesium plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions and is generally safe when taken in appropriate doses, exceeding those limits or ignoring individual health conditions can result in adverse effects. Let's unbolt the safety cabinet and scrutinize what could go wrong with magnesium chloride supplementation.

1. Gastrointestinal Discomfort

One of the more common reactions to excessive magnesium intake is gastrointestinal upset. The symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are often the body's way of expelling excess magnesium. A review published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology states that magnesium salts, which include magnesium chloride, are frequently the cause of diarrhea when used as laxatives.

2. Electrolyte Imbalance

With the laxative effect can also come an electrolyte imbalance. This is because electrolytes like potassium and sodium can be flushed out with diarrhea. Potential consequences of this imbalance include:

  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures

This side effect should not be taken lightly, as severe electrolyte imbalances can be life-threatening. Medical oversight is crucial, especially for those with kidney disease who are at higher risk of developing these imbalances, as noted by a study in the British Medical Journal.

3. Respiratory Issues

At particularly high doses, magnesium can have a depressant effect on neuromuscular function, which can lead to respiratory problems. Symptoms can range from shortness of breath to complete respiratory failure, though this is exceedingly rare and typically occurs only with significant overdose or in those with renal impairment. This is corroborated by research in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

4. Cardiovascular Effects

Excessive magnesium can also affect the heart. While adequate levels of magnesium are essential for heart health, too much can lead to:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmias

According to the American Heart Association, magnesium acts as a natural calcium channel blocker, which helps control blood pressure but can become problematic in high concentrations.

5. Medication Interactions

Magnesium can interact with various medications, impacting their effectiveness or contributing to side effects. Some notable interactions include:

  • Reduced absorption of certain antibiotics
  • Altered effectiveness of blood pressure medications
  • Increased risk of adverse effects from muscle relaxants and medications that affect neuromuscular transmission

Healthcare professionals often advise spacing out the administration of magnesium supplements and certain medications to mitigate these effects, as stated in Drugs.com interactions checker.

While the majority of those who take magnesium chloride supplements do not experience severe side effects, it is pivotal to approach supplementation with prudence and ideally under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Observing recommended daily allowances, considering individual health conditions, and being alert to the body's responses are critical steps in ensuring the safe use of magnesium chloride supplements.

Interactions with Medications and Medical Conditions

Magnesium chloride is a supplement that's generally recognized as safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses. However, its interactions with certain medications and medical conditions can lead to adverse effects or decreased efficacy of treatment. An astute supplement user must be aware of these potential interactions to avoid harmful consequences.

Medication Interactions: Magnesium can bind with certain drugs, affecting how the body absorbs or excretes them. Here are specific medications that may interact with magnesium chloride:

  • Antibiotics: Some antibiotics, such as tetracycline and fluoroquinolones, can form complexes with magnesium, which might reduce the absorption of the antibiotic, diminishing its therapeutic effectiveness. It is often recommended to separate the intake of these antibiotics and magnesium supplements by at least two to three hours.
  • Diuretics: Loop and thiazide diuretics can increase the excretion of magnesium, potentially leading to magnesium deficiency. Conversely, magnesium supplements may affect the efficacy of these diuretics.
  • Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Long-term use of PPIs can decrease gastric acid secretion, which may reduce magnesium absorption and potentially lead to hypomagnesemia, especially when combined with magnesium-lowering medications.
  • Anticoagulants: Magnesium can potentiate the effects of drugs such as warfarin, increasing the risk of bleeding. Close monitoring of INR levels is advised when magnesium supplements are taken with blood thinners.
  • Medication for High Blood Pressure: Magnesium has natural vasodilating properties, which can enhance the effects of antihypertensive drugs and possibly lead to hypotension if not monitored properly.
  • Digoxin: Low magnesium levels can increase the risk of digoxin toxicity, while high levels from supplementation could impede drug efficacy.

Medical Conditions: In certain health conditions, magnesium chloride must be taken with caution or avoided altogether:

  • Kidney Dysfunction: Individuals with impaired renal function may not be able to excrete magnesium efficiently, risking accumulation to toxic levels. It is critical for those with kidney issues to consult with a healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements.
  • Myasthenia Gravis: Magnesium can block the transmission of neuromuscular impulses, which can exacerbate muscle weakness in people with this autoimmune disorder.
  • Heart Block: Those with heart block or other cardiac conditions may be affected by magnesium’s influence on muscle contractions and should proceed with caution.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions like Crohn's disease or other malabsorptive disorders might affect how the body processes magnesium, leading to alterations in bodily levels that could necessitate adjustment of supplementation.

Before integrating magnesium chloride into your regimen, discuss it with a healthcare provider, especially if you have an existing medical condition or are on any of the aforementioned medications. Only through a collaborative approach can one ensure safety and gain the full benefit of magnesium supplementation without risking negative interactions.

Dosage Recommendations for Magnesium Chloride

The appropriate dosage of magnesium chloride can vary widely depending on a person's age, gender, and health status. While magnesium is essential for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, bone health, and regulating blood pressure, it's crucial to adhere to recommended guidelines to prevent adverse effects.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for magnesium are as follows:

  • Adult men: 400-420 mg per day
  • Adult women: 310-320 mg per day
  • Pregnant women: 350-360 mg per day
  • Breastfeeding women: 310-320 mg per day

When it comes to magnesium chloride specifically, a common supplemental form of magnesium, the dosing should not exceed the RDA unless advised by a healthcare provider. It's worth mentioning that these supplements are available in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, and topical solutions. Each form may have different absorption rates, which can influence the effective dosage.

It's also essential to factor in dietary sources of magnesium when considering supplementation. Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach and kale)
  • Nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes (e.g., black beans)
  • Seafood (e.g., salmon)

Before starting any form of supplementation, consult with a healthcare professional, who can account for individual factors and specific health conditions when determining a proper dosage.

Signs of Magnesium Chloride Overdose

Taking too much magnesium chloride can lead to a condition known as hypermagnesemia, which can become serious if not addressed promptly. Recognizing the signs of an overdose is vital for preventing complications.

Early symptoms of magnesium overdose include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy

As levels of magnesium in the blood continue to rise, more severe symptoms may occur:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Urine retention
  • Cardiac arrest (in extreme cases)

It is essential to note that individuals with kidney issues are at increased risk of developing hypermagnesemia because the kidneys are primarily responsible for excreting excess magnesium. The NIH warns that individuals with renal impairment should be particularly cautious with their magnesium intake.

If you suspect a magnesium chloride overdose, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment may involve the cessation of magnesium supplementation and administration of intravenous calcium gluconate to antagonize the effects of excess magnesium.

Always adhere to the dosage prescribed by a healthcare professional or as indicated on the supplement packaging. Self-treatment with magnesium supplements can lead to an overdose if not monitored correctly, especially since the margin between the therapeutic dose and the dose that can cause an overdose is relatively small.

To ensure the responsible use of magnesium chloride supplements and to mitigate the risk of overdose, routine blood tests may be recommended by healthcare providers to monitor magnesium levels, particularly in high-risk individuals or those taking high doses.

Quality Concerns: Sourcing and Contaminants in Supplements

When evaluating whether magnesium chloride—or any supplement for that matter—is bad for you, the context of quality concerns cannot be overstated. The global supply chain for dietary supplements is complex and often lacks transparency, which can lead to variability in the quality and purity of the final product. Here's what consumers need to be aware of:

Sourcing of Magnesium Chloride: Magnesium chloride can be sourced from seawater, underground deposits of ancient seabeds, or salt lakes. The origin of the magnesium chloride is critical since it can affect the presence of impurities and the ecological impact of extraction. Extraction from polluted seawater or near industrial sites can introduce harmful contaminants.

List of potential contaminant sources for different magnesium chloride origins:

  • Seawater: Heavy metals from industrial runoff, oil spills, shipping waste, and crop run-off.
  • Underground deposits: Trace elements from surrounding rock that could include arsenic, lead, or mercury.
  • Salt lakes: Nearby mining operations could contribute to elevated levels of various contaminants.

Contaminants: The presence of contaminants in magnesium supplements can pose significant health risks. Independent testing organizations like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com offer certifications that can provide a level of assurance about the purity and potency of supplements. Contaminants that are particularly concerning include:

  • Heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic which can have neurotoxic, carcinogenic, or kidney-damaging effects.
  • Microbial contaminants, including bacteria, molds, and yeasts, can lead to infections or allergic reactions.
  • Industrial contaminants such as PCBs and dioxins, which are byproducts of industrial processes and could disrupt hormonal balance and cause cancer.

Studies and reports highlighting the risks associated with contaminants in supplements:

  • A study by Consumer Reports found that some over-the-counter supplements had levels of heavy metals that exceeded the safe limits defined by independent agencies.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) occasionally issues warnings about contaminated supplements that have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects.

As consumers, vigilance and a critical eye are essential when selecting a magnesium chloride supplement. Look for brands that source their ingredients responsibly and willingly share information about their quality control processes. Companies that offer third-party testing results or that are certified by organizations such as USP or NSF are generally making a commitment to purity and consumer safety.

Keep in mind that while supplement labels may provide some information about the origin and quality of their ingredients, they might not provide a complete picture. Contacting the manufacturer directly to inquire about their sourcing and testing protocols can offer added assurances about the quality of what you're ingesting.

In summary, understanding the sourcing and potential contaminants in magnesium chloride supplements is crucial in evaluating their safety. Consumers should actively seek out transparent brands that adhere to stringent quality and purity standards to minimize the risk of consuming a product that is 'bad for you' due to contaminants.

Frequently asked questions

There is some evidence suggesting that magnesium can play a role in migraine prevention due to its effects on neurotransmitter release and blood vessel constriction. Studies, such as those published in 'Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain,' indicate that magnesium levels may be lower in individuals who experience migraines and that supplementation may help reduce the frequency of attacks. However, it should be noted that more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage and form of magnesium for migraine relief.

Topical application of magnesium chloride, such as in the form of oils, lotions, or bath salts, is touted for its potential to bypass the digestive system and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. While this method is believed to improve local muscle relaxation and alleviate skin conditions, there is limited scientific research to conclusively confirm the efficiency of absorption and systemic benefits compared to oral supplementation. More studies are needed to establish the equivalence or superiority of topical application over oral ingestion.

Magnesium chloride can have a mild laxative effect, helping to relieve constipation due to its ability to attract water into the intestines, promoting bowel movements. However, magnesium forms like magnesium citrate and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) are more commonly used for their stronger laxative properties. Individuals should adjust the form and dosage of magnesium based on their specific needs and tolerance, ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Magnesium plays a pivotal role in muscle function and energy production, which are key components of exercise performance and recovery. Adequate magnesium levels may help reduce fatigue and muscle cramps, and enhance recovery by mitigating lactic acid buildup. Sport nutrition guidelines suggest considering magnesium supplementation for athletes with a known deficiency or individuals engaging in intense exercise, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Ask a question about Magnesium Chloride and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • muscle cramps
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • respiratory issues
  • low blood pressure
  • heart arrhythmias

Possible long-term side effects

  • electrolyte imbalance
  • kidney disease risks
  • potential exacerbation of muscle weakness in myasthenia gravis
  • increased risk of bleeding with anticoagulants
  • hypomagnesemia with proton-pump inhibitors
  • cardiac arrest (extreme cases)

Ingredients to be aware of

  • heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic)
  • microbial contaminants (bacteria, molds, yeasts)
  • industrial contaminants (pcbs, dioxins)


  • maintains muscle and nerve function
  • energy production
  • heart health
  • bone integrity
  • regulates blood glucose levels
  • supports mental health
  • detoxification
  • protein synthesis
  • sleep regulation
  • higher bioavailability compared to other magnesium forms

Healthier alternatives

  • leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds)
  • whole grains
  • legumes (black beans)
  • seafood (salmon)

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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 12-21-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 12-21-2023

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