Why Magnesium Stopped Working For You – How to fix it!

Magnesium Balancing

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Is Magnesium Not Working For You?

With the recent popularity of the mega-mineral magnesium, seemingly heralded as a cure-all supplement, we’re seeing more people incorporating it into their daily regime. But could there be any downsides to magnesium supplementation? Is it possible that magnesium stopped working? If you’ve experienced negative side effects from magnesium, or if you want to simply maximise the effectiveness of magnesium continue reading. 5

Magnesium has exploded in popularity in the last 10 years. Likely due to its overall deficiency in modern diets, its relatively low price, and its widespread availability. It is well known magnesium can help with a number of health complaints including an ability to reduce blood pressure, relieve muscle cramps, improve insomnia, as well as improve heart irregularities such as arrhythmia.

Whilst magnesium is certainly a versatile and much needed addition to the majority of the population, especially in the western world, there are little known contraindications that must be considered to get the greatest benefits. Without certain measures people often wonder if magnesium has stopped working for them or their magnesium supplementation has reached a “plateau”.

Can you take too much magnesium?

Unfortunately when a supplement or behaviour improves an individual’s health complaints, we are very quick to encourage others to engage in the same practice. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this as it is basic human nature, especially when it costs us nothing but the price of sharing the information! I for one am especially guilty of this very behaviour, not only regarding magnesium but also a number of other supplements or health-fads that I have engaged in. 

Magnesium has been a victim of this over-enthusiastic recommendation for a number of practical reasons. But also from a number of popular health articles on the topic, the boom in availability of all manner of tablets, capsules, topical creams or oils, epsom foot bath flakes, the variety is endless. In addition to this we have popular books like, The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, which was extremely well received back in 2003 for providing explanations as to why magnesium is so beneficial to our bodies. 

Now you may be thinking; with hundreds if not thousands of research papers on the topic and an abundance of anecdotal evidence to suggest magnesium can help almost anyone on earth in the 21st century, what could possibly be the downside?

Balancing minerals if magnesium stopped working

Finding the balance

More people each day are jumping on the magnesium bandwagon in an attempt to fix whatever problems they have. Whether it’s anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, constipation, etc. As more people experiment with magnesium supplementation we also see a rise in people having undesired effects too. I believe this is in part because when we’re recommended magnesium by peers, doctors, or health practitioners, very rarely are we educated on what effect magnesium has on other minerals within the body.

This is especially important for individuals who may already be suffering from other health complaints.

Have you ever taken magnesium and experienced precisely the opposite effects of what you had been advertised?

Has magnesium worked brilliantly for a period of time only for your initial ailment to return, possibly accompanied by additional complaints? You are not alone. This is an extremely common problem and will only become more common as this supplement is pushed on an unsuspecting audience. Remember the body is an extremely adaptable but also extremely complex machine!

If you’re wondering why magnesium stopped working, or is making you feel worse now you can find out why. 

If you’re wondering can magnesium stop working or make me feel worse? The answer is a resounding yes!

The first thing to realise is this; Any independent mineral supplementation will have a synergistic or antagonistic effect on another mineral. This means taking any one mineral will decrease or increase absorption of another mineral. 

Whilst this may seem like one more topic to learn about it can be relatively simple, what’s more, learning what minerals interact with each other will help you to optimise your body and ultimately feel more healthy!

Common Complaints When Taking Magnesium


Magnesium is giving me heart palpitations

One of the most common side effects reported when people supplement magnesium is heart beat irregularities. Magnesium has long been used to effectively reduce heart palpitations, so what gives?

Well the reason this can happen is due to magnesium’s amazing influence on the body’s blood pressure. Magnesium tends to relieve many symptoms by reducing blood pressure which in turn can make the body feel more relaxed. However, if your blood pressure falls too low you run the risk of the heart missing beats, skipping beats, double beating or other heart related problems. Does this mean that magnesium has stopped working? Well, not really.

Now we know what is happening, why is this happening and what can you do about it? Firstly the reason magnesium works so well at reducing blood pressure is in part because of the antagonistic effect it has on both Calcium & Sodium. Both of these minerals help increase blood pressure in the body through various mechanisms. When you up your intake of magnesium it can help reduce the blood-pressure increasing-effects of both sodium & calcium. If you take too much magnesium in relation to your sodium or calcium levels then you could experience negative symptoms. Common issues such as heart palpitations arise as the magnesium reduces calcium or sodium levels too much. 

How do you remedy this? Pay close attention to your sodium & calcium intake. Usually most people can resolve this issue by increasing one mineral or the other. Although in some cases you may be low in both sodium and calcium. To help self diagnose a deficiency there are some tell-tale anecdotal signs you can pay attention to. Do you have yellowing of the teeth which cannot be explained by a lack of dental hygiene? This is one of the first signs of chronically low calcium. When calcium in the blood is low your body will draw on its reserves found in the bones & teeth. This could be common if you follow a vegan diet without an emphasis on including calcium, do not consume any dairy for some particular reason, or have an existing bowel problem such as crohns or IBD which can prevent absorption of some minerals. 

Alternatively if you do not experience these symptoms you may instead have issues with low sodium also known as hyponatremia. Firstly do you have a high water intake, or low salt intake diet? If you have these symptoms alongside magnesium supplementation then you likely have low sodium. This is because as you drink more water in an effort to stay hydrated you will also urinate a lot to get rid of said water. Normally this is fine, however salt is used to retain and balance fluid levels in the body, if your salt intake is low it won’t be held onto in the body each time you go to the bathroom. This means with each bathroom visit your sodium levels could be dropping lower & lower.

Pay attention to your water and salt intake. Less is sometimes more with water, plus adding salt to food is a long standing healthy tradition. Remember, your body would stop working because of zero salt long before it stopped because of too much salt. What’s interesting is that hyponatremia (low sodium/salt) shares many symptoms with low magnesium. This is why many people get the impression that magnesium has stopped working for them. However this is not the case.


If you are experiencing heart palpitations or irregular heart beats after supplementing with magnesium then you likely have either 

A) Low Sodium:

Symptoms include:

  • Needing to urinate regularly
  • Passing large volumes of mostly clear urine
  • Low energy
  • Water retention in the lower legs or face

B) Low Calcium:

Symptoms include:

  • Yellowing of teeth
  • Bone pain
  • Jaw pain when eating
  • Low energy. 

You will notice both deficiencies do share some similar symptoms. This means the best judge is not a test but your own personal experience. Analyse diet and lifestyle and you should quickly determine if you have low sodium, low calcium, or both.  

Magnesium is making me feel too tired

Another common complaint people experience when first supplementing magnesium is that it makes them feel extremely tired! Whilst we want to enjoy the relaxing benefits of magnesium we don’t want relaxation to cross over into debilitating fatigue.

Many people often experience this symptom especially when supplementing with Magnesium Glycinate. This type of magnesium is buffered with Glycine which is also known for its relaxing properties and in turn can make people very tired. Why is this? Well there’s a simple answer. 

Magnesium often makes us feel more relaxed due to its blood-pressure lowering qualities. High blood pressure can be likened to a machine that’s running too fast. This is the type of body that will experience more stress or more anxiety. When magnesium is added the blood pressure relieves and your machine body can pump the brakes a little and take away some of your stresses & anxiety. However, if the machine becomes too relaxed, now it runs the risk of becoming too tired to run optimally!

Okay, but why does this happen? When we take supplement magnesium it has an opposing effect on sodium within the body. It doesn’t mean magnesium has stopped working. Too little magnesium stimulates sodium absorption in the intestines, too much decreases it. Sodium is primarily what our bodies use to fuel our adrenals. If you’re craving salt, or salty snacks this is usually a tell tale sign of adrenal fatigue. Remember salt is an essential mineral- without it our bodies wouldn’t be able to function!

So how do I reduce magnesium fatigue? A simple way of maintaining sodium levels is to take a small amount of salt, ideally high quality salt such as Redmond Real Sea Salt or Pure Pink Himalayan Salt. Magnesium supplementation should be taken away from this increased sodium. This way you can firstly monitor if there is any perceived benefit, and secondly to begin experimenting with your preferred dose. Searching online you will find many recipes to remedy this named “adrenal cocktails”. These usually consist of orange juice with a ¼ teaspoon of salt and an equal dose of potassium. If you don’t prefer to drink your salt, simply add it to food until the food tastes appropriate. Remember, if it tastes fine, then it’s probably a reasonable amount for your body. 

In addition, low calcium can also give rise to extreme fatigue, this works via the same mechanism outlined above regarding sodium. When calcium is lowered in your blood because of magnesium supplementation blood pressure will reduce. You will then experience extreme fatigue as your body finds it more difficult to pump blood around the body. The solutions are simple, the challenging part can be determining which mineral you are lacking.

Magnesium is actually increasing my anxiety

Many people are taking magnesium for its wonderful anti-anxiety properties. Essentially magnesium helps to reduce certain types of anxiety by reducing your blood pressure to a more comfortable range. This effect is usually only beneficial to people who are already experiencing bouts of increased blood pressure. 

However if you have chosen magnesium to help reduce anxiety, or you’ve found magnesium has reduced your anxiety in the past but no longer does. This is where many people begin asking, can magnesium actually increase my anxiety? Firstly you need to know magnesium has an interesting relationship with calcium. Whilst magnesium doesn’t enhance calcium absorption it does ensure calcium is absorbed into the correct places. In this way we can think of magnesium as the transport mineral. However, magnesium will keep transporting calcium regardless of its calcium levels. If you continuously supplement with magnesium then eventually you will reach a plateau, you aren’t just transporting calcium anymore you are actually diluting it. As you increase magnesium without a suitable amount of calcium you will eventually deplete calcium to a point of deficiency

Why is this important? It’s important because calcium deficiency can actually mimic the same irritating symptoms of a low magnesium. The reason many of us are experiencing anxiety is usually a result of too high or too low blood pressure. As your calcium levels decrease your heart has a more difficult time maintaining a healthy heart beat rhythm. This can result in the same anxiety or heart palpitations that you are trying to alleviate with magnesium!

How do I balance magnesium and calcium supplementation?

If you want to maintain balance between magnesium and calcium supplementation you must pay attention to your calcium intake. Every persons body interacts with and absorbs minerals differently. This is why RDA (recommended daily allowance) of minerals is not always accurate. Absorption can depend on many individual factors including gut health, adrenal health, and how much stress we are experiencing on a daily basis. Before you rush out and start supplementing calcium take stock of your dietary intake. Do you maintain a vegan or non-dairy diet, do you have a low intake of milk, cheese, nuts or other calcium food sources? Do you have IBS, crohns, or another digestive disturbance that could reduce the absorption of calcium in your gut? If you’ve answered yes to any of these then calcium supplementation could serve you well. Many people take a calcium & magnesium all in one supplement. Whilst convenient, I do not recommend this as you aren’t able to increase either independently should you need to. I have tried many calcium supplements but the best currently available would be Natures Aid Chewable Calcium. This particular product has almost no nasty filler ingredients, it’s 100% vegan, it’s calcium carbonate which very well absorbed, and best of all it’s a chewable version that tastes great!

Final words on magnesium interactions

How can I stop magnesium giving me anxiety? Simple. The bottom line when supplementing magnesium is to pay attention to your calcium & sodium intake. If you are heavily dosing magnesium then you either need to increase your calcium/sodium intake or think about supplementing calcium. 

I hope this information helps people to reduce the negative side-effects of magnesium supplementation. If you feel magnesium has stopped working or you’ve experienced any other negative symptom from magnesium then let us know! Drop a comment with your experience on magnesium or visit our other articles.

Oftentimes magnesium will unbalance our electrolytes which can lead to unwanted side-effects. This issue can be avoided when using topical magnesium. Find which magnesium oil is the best of the bunch.

Best Magnesium Oil Spray

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