If you’re living with lupus, you may be researching options for managing your symptoms. On MyLupusTeam, members often ask questions about natural remedies for lupus. “Are there any specific vitamins that you feel can be helpful?” one member asked. Another responded, “I take magnesium.”
Magnesium is an essential part of your diet, and many Americans fall short of the recommended daily intake. You can find magnesium in nuts, whole grains, beans, leafy greens, milk, and more. Magnesium helps keep your muscles and nerves healthy, but when you experience a severe deficiency of this mineral, your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis increases. Can magnesium supplementation benefit people living with lupus?
The most common type of lupus is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this article, we explore current research on magnesium supplementation for lupus and whether magnesium pills should be part of your lupus treatment.
Low magnesium has been found to play a role in many conditions, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches. Research on the benefits of taking magnesium supplements is limited, but studies have found that:
Additionally, people often use magnesium for sleep problems, kidney health, heart disease prevention, and other diseases that are known to be complications of lupus. The recommended daily intake of magnesium depends on age and sex, but for adults, it ranges from 310 to 420 milligrams per day. This amount can be found in a healthy diet without supplement pills.
A small study discovered that people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and SLE have a greater lack of magnesium compared to those without these conditions. This finding is just a correlation, and the study was not conducted in a large population of people with lupus.
Another larger study showed that individuals with SLE who are deficient in magnesium are at a higher risk for infection. In a group of 476 people recently diagnosed with SLE, those who had a current infection were more likely to have a lower magnesium level than those without an infection.
Magnesium supplements have not been directly tested in their ability to treat lupus symptoms, but the nutrient has been studied for its effects on related conditions. Most usefully, magnesium has been studied for its effectiveness in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, which commonly occur in people with SLE. The American Migraine Foundation endorses the effectiveness of magnesium oxide pills at 400 to 600 milligrams per day in preventing migraine. However, these recommendations are not specific to lupus headaches, and the mechanism of magnesium for lupus symptoms is still unknown.
The connections between magnesium supplementation and lupus are all indirect and have not been recommended in a clinical setting. Before using magnesium, remember to consider the potential side effects and dangers of using magnesium supplements.
High doses of magnesium from supplements can cause nausea, cramping, and diarrhea. They also might interact with antibiotics and other medications, such as certain antacids and laxatives.
If you are concerned about magnesium deficiency, seek medical advice from a health care professional before purchasing supplements. You can ask your doctor about checking your magnesium levels with a blood test and supplementing if you are deficient. Your doctor can point you to reputable brands and advise you on how much magnesium you should get daily. They may also refer you to a nutritionist who can help you incorporate magnesium into your everyday diet.
In addition to maintaining a balanced diet and taking the medications prescribed to you by your rheumatologist, taking supplements may be a helpful addition to your daily routine.
MyLupusTeam members often discuss other supplements that they have tried for their overall wellness.
One member described all of the natural remedies they take daily: “Turmeric, ginger root, fish oil, flaxseed oil, calcium, vitamin D3, glucosamine, vitamin C, electrolyte supplement, fruit smoothie every morning, chicken veggie soups. These are all-natural ways I have found to help.” Fish oil and flaxseed oil are sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Another member said that their rheumatologist prescribed four supplements to add to their medication regimen: “NAC, DHEA, fish oil, and vitamin D.”
Many supplements are said to address common symptoms of lupus, from fatigue to skin problems. Before starting a new supplement, make sure to talk to your doctor to make sure the benefits outweigh the risks and there are no drug interactions with your current treatment plan.
MyLupusTeam is the social network for people with lupus and their loved ones. On MyLupusTeam, more than 223,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lupus.
Have you ever taken magnesium for your lupus symptoms? What other supplements have you tried? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.