Full Moon, Insomnia and Magnesium!

Did you catch the item on the news the other day about the full moon and disrupted sleep? I heard it on BBC 4 and found it intriguing. Researchers at Basel University in Switzerland were carrying out some sleep studies and by chance discovered that more disrupted sleep patterns in volunteers coincided with periods of full moon.

No it’s not psychobabble or a werewolf story! And of course the first reaction of researchers was that it was due to increased light at times of full moon – problem was their research was carried out in conditions where this would not have been applicable.

“Findings revealed that around the full Moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by nearly a third. Melatonin levels also dipped. The volunteers also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less when there was a full Moon.” (BBC News, link below)

It has been suggested that the likely reason was simply human evolution – thousands of years where cycles of the full moon had greater relevance to our ancestors for reasons perhaps such as hunting, being hunted and celebrations and ceremonies. So this innate awareness is still in use and we are simply more restless when the moon is full.

And the story got me thinking about the nutritional deficiencies that may commonly affect sleep. The mineral magnesium is certainly the most talked about nutrient linked to poor sleep. Magnesium is an essential mineral most commonly associated with bone health as nearly 70% of the body’s supply is located in the bones. And one of many approved scientific health claims from EFSA the European Food Safety Authority for Magnesium is “Magnesium can contribute to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue”.

Magnesium is a relaxer of smooth muscles and a shortage of magnesium gives rise to muscle twitching and disrupted nerve signalling. Calcium contracts muscles whilst magnesium relaxes and relaxation is a precursor to peaceful sleep. By virtue of the fact that suitable magnesium levels help with efficient muscle and energy use (optimum entropy) and therefore the likely quality of sleep this should help reduce tiredness and fatigue and promote restful sleep. Magnesium is used in many enzyme systems in the body and if it is not present in sufficient quantities for their optimum function these systems do not work efficiently and further drain compensatory resources.

Low magnesium levels may be a factor in restless leg syndrome (RLS), agitation, anxiety and sleep disorder. It is most unlikely that a high dietary intake of magnesium would increase your levels to a point where it caused health problems. This is due to the availability and levels of magnesium in foods today. However you could take too much magnesium in a supplement form and this would of course not be a good idea. And there have been reported instances where people consider magnesium supplementation has worsened their sleep making them ‘stimulated’.

It is probable that too much magnesium causes insomnia – and the reason is because it starts the body ‘detoxing’ and this causes all sorts of aches and pains and stops the body resting and sleeping. We would suggest that 200mg elemental magnesium (I stress ‘elemental’ here) is great for promoting sleep and relaxation, whilst the sort of supplemental level that generally tips the balance is 300mg+ (elemental) which will start the body detoxification and this will give rise to symptoms that appear to have the opposite effect (to relaxation) in the short term.

We would always stress that everybody seeks suitable and qualified advice when looking at purchasing a food supplement – the right advice is very much based on each individual. And as an example you may already be taking a multivitamins and mineral with magnesium in it.

Good natural sources of magnesium are fresh, green vegetables, raw un-milled wheat germ, soya beans, milk, whole grains, seafoods, figs, corn, apples and oil-rich seeds and nuts, especially almonds. Fish, garlic, tofu, peaches, apricots and lima beans are also good sources.

Magnesium Citrate is the best of the non-food form forms of magnesium and also available as a food supplement. As a citrate it is readily absorbed into the bloodstream via the citric acid cycle. The current approved ‘scientific health claims (from EFSA the European Food Safety Authority) for Magnesium are:

  • Magnesium can contribute to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue;
  • Contributes to normal psychological functions;
  • Contributes to electrolyte balance;
  • Magnesium contributes to the maintenance of normal bone/teeth;
  • Contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism;
  • Contributes to normal muscle function including the heart muscle;
  • Contributes to normal nerve function;
  • Contributes to normal protein synthesis;
  • Magnesium contributes to normal cell division

If you have any questions regarding this article or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.

Amanda Williams
01684 310099

BBC: Full Moon ‘disturbs a good night’s sleep’

Last updated on 3rd July 2015 by cytoffice


62 thoughts on “Full Moon, Insomnia and Magnesium!

  1. Hello Amanda, I have found a definite improvement in sleep and muscle pains, twitching and restless legs etc when I started taking a magnesium supplement. PHEW! Thank goodness! So thank you for alerting others! Elaine x

    1. Hi Elaine

      I am delighted it has helped you. I confess that I also take magnesium in the evening and it does seem to help promote restful sleep, and I notice if I forget to take it!

  2. Thanks for this article Amanda – some years ago I trained in metabolic typing and their assertion was that in some people low magnesium could be due to too much calcium and instead of raising magnesium you should lower calcium. In other words it is the balance that is important not the amount. Seemingly the treatment depends on the metabolic type. What are your thoughts?

    I am also concerned about potassium levels too and ensuring the balance is correct.

    1. Hi

      I wholly agree that it is all about balance and correct ratio of calcium to magnesium. But as there is widespread fortification of foods with calcium and not with magnesium, plus a greater need for magnesium in the stressful lives most people lead today, magnesium shortfall is quite widespread. I dont think it is just from excessive calcium intake but more from genuine increased needs for magnesium.

      Agree potassium is also very important.But if people are eating a good level of vegetables, which are naturally high in potassium, and not adding sodium chloride to food, this should not be a problem or concern.

  3. Hi,

    I’m interested in this as I have CFS, I notice that taking magnesium has improved several symptoms, however I take magnesium glycinate (having read several articles regarding CFS and magnesium supplements) because I found that other magnesium sources seems to cause stomach upsets. Is citrate similar in that way?

    1. Hello Luke,
      Thank you for the comment; I am pleased that magnesium has helped with some of your symptoms. Magnesium citrate is a gentle form of magnesium that is rapidly absorbed and utilised as it is transported via the pyruvate cycle. Our Biofood Magnesium is similarly gentle and effective. So long as they are taken at no higher than the recommended dose of 2/day you will not have any gastric side effects. Magnesium citrate should be taken with food. If you would like a sample of either free of charge to try please let me know.

      Best wishes

      1. I’ve had terrible problems with constipation and reflux after very harsh antibiotics. Doc suggested magnesium oxide in high doses (plus antacids, but I have stopped taking those bc they made constipation worse). Mag ox causes insomnia. But do you think your formula would help constipation, not make reflux worse (meaning not acidic), and not cause insomnia?

        1. Hi Tina, magnesium citrate can be very supportive for constipation but also help to effectively raise your magnesium levels in order to support relaxation and sleep. Following antibiotics we would also recommend a multi-strain probiotic supplement to help bring balance back to your gut and support a range of gastrointestinal symptoms.

  4. I have been having a lot of problems sleeping over the past few month which leads me to becoming anxious.

    I do not wish to take sleeping pills and have noted that magnesium citrate is suggested on various other web sites as a possible help.

    How much would you suggest is taken for this problem 400 – 500mg is suggested on the sites I have looked at, also at what time of day?

    1. Dear Roy,

      Thank you very much for your question. I would take 2 x 500mg Magnesium citrate (80mg elemental) about 3 hours before bedtime. You could also benefit from pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) – 1 50mg tablet twice a day; one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

      Make sure you avoid caffeinated drinks after noon, and don’t eat large protein-rich evening meals later than 6pm.

      But please email me and I will send you the relevant supplements to try. My email is amanda@cytoplan.co.uk.

      Best wishes, Amanda

        1. Hi Tina, I’m afraid we are perplexed by your query. 200mg is ideal for promoting sleep and relaxation – to give you an idea, this could be two of our Biofood Magnesium tablets which provide 1000mg each. We certainly wouldn’t recommend more than 400mg daily.

  5. Hi, my 15 year old son has Crohn’s and is plagued by restless sleep patterns and fatigue.

    Can you suggest anything that may help him please ?
    Also, he does have to take a multivitamin every day, but mostly doesn’t as they taste bad, can you suggest an alternative ?
    Many thanks.

    1. Dear Anne,

      Thank you so much for the comment. Cytobiotic active might help him plus eating a light evening meal several hours before bedtime. Yes magnesium could also be very useful. I would probably need to understand things a little better to be more prescriptive for the sleep problem, but the aforementioned would be a safe and hopefully effective solution.. Our wholefood multi would be a good multivit/min which is in capsules and does not have any taste to it. Would you like some free to try? If you want more detailed help I can send you a health questionnaire for this purpose. The service is free of charge and the questionnaire collects enough information to enable me to give you safe and effective advice.

      To please contact me if you would like to – 01684 310099 / Amanda@cytoplan.co.uk

      Best wishes

  6. Hey amanda.. Your article seems really intresting since i am trying melatonin tablets instead of helping me sleep its keeping me wide awake. Do u think magnesium would be useful for me ?

    1. Dear Mishie,

      Yes. It is interesting that both melatonin and serotonin can sometimes aid sleep and sometimes have the reverse effect. Magnesium is well worth a try – take 2 magnesium citrate about 2 hours before bed. If you are an anxious person then the addition of 2x50mg pantothenic acid might also augment the beneficial effect you are seeking. Do come back to me if you need more help – amanda@cytoplan.co.uk.

      Thank you for your comment and interest in our blog.

      Best Wishes, Amanda

  7. Hi,
    My wife takes 1Tegratol 200mg tablet, 1 Amlodipine 5mg tablet and 1 Citalopram 10mg tablet a day……can she take the Magnesium and B vitamin supplements?

    1. Dear Tony,
      Many thanks for your question. Yes, both Magnesium and the B vitamin supplements are fine for your wife with her current medication. Just be sure this is at no more than the normal recommended dose levels respectively. If you are still unsure or would like further details please contact me – similarly if you would like a sample pot of our Magnesium to get started with. Best wishes to you both, Amanda

      2) Probably the vegan algae oil is best inthis instance and fish like sardines and shell fish are high in purines.

  8. I started taken magnesium oxide 250 mg for help with vertigo. Then I started have sleep issues. I’ve never had a problem then anxiety. I need magnesium to keep me regular. But taken it alone I’m not sleeping. Do I need to take calcium?

    1. Dear Trarina,

      Thank you so much for your question. Please can you contact me directly amanda@cytoplan.co.uk. I need to understand the actual level of magnesium you are taking as 250mg might be the complex of magnesium oxide or it might be the elemental amount and this makes a difference as to the effect it will have. Also magnesium oxide is not a bio-effective form of magnesium. So if I can better understand things, including the sequence of events I will be able to help you better resolve the problems you are experiencing. Thank you so much, Amanda x

  9. I loved your article and I agree that balance between calcium and magnesium not only results in better sleep but better life in general. I only didn’t understand the relationship between Moon cycles and magnesium intake. I do have real problems falling asleep during full moon days. What would you suggest in relationship to magnesium or other supplements?

    1. Hi Alex,

      It was recorded during a recent study of 36 people that during a ‘Full Moon’ subjects:
      • took longer to fall asleep
      • spent less time in deep sleep
      • slept for less time
      • reported having poorer sleep

      One apparently obvious explanation to this is that moonlight shining into the rooms disrupts sleep – but this doesn’t seem to hold up. Conditions in the sleep laboratory used during the study were tightly controlled to ensure that the amount of light was the same every single night.

      However it is considered that the patterns of moonlight the volunteers experienced in the months running up to the sleep laboratory nights could still be having an effect on their body’s sleep rhythms. These results suggest that as well as our body clocks having a natural response to the time of day, when it comes to sleep, it may also have a response to the cycle of the moon. This is where Magnesium is important because it aids relaxation of smooth muscle so to a degree it will help modify the body’s response to the cycle of the moon.

      Please do get in touch if you would like a free pot of Magnesium to try. I would be more than happy to send this out to you. My e-mail address is amanda@cytoplan.co.uk.

      All the best,

  10. I started taking magnesium glycinate about 6 days ago. First day I took 100 mg. and noticed my sleep was a bit disrupted. Next day I took 200 mg, and it was even more disrupted, took 300 the next 2 days and barely slept, so started assuming it was the magnesium. Yesterday I only took 100 in the morning, hoping it would wear off by time for bed and I felt super stimulated all day and all night. Not one minute of sleep!

    First question is… I am discontinuing the magnesium for now to see if sleep returns. Do you know how long this could take to get out of my system? It seems to have built up as I only took 100 mg yesterday and I was hyperstimulated.

    Second question… Do you think it’s the magnesium or the glycine that is causing my insomnia? Both are supposed to be calming. I have read many others say magnesium causes their insomnia, but have not found any evidence of glycine causing it.

    It’s a shame, because it really helped relax my muscles and calm my anxiety.

    1. This story sounds very familiar to me . I have been supplementing Magnesium for a couple of months and recently began waking up at night all revved up and anxious. I am taking a small dose of ionic magnesium that works great during the day but at night it has a paradoxical effect. Originally I too started on magnesium glycinate and assumed it might be the glycine but the ionic mag did the same thing. If you have found any answers to your questions please post them. I’d like to continue taking magnesium but these side effects are preventing me from continuing.

    2. Did you find answer to your question? Same thing happened to me when using magnesium glycinate 400mg at bed time to treat insomnia, was up the whole night instead.

    3. Hi Michelle, I know this is 2023 and it is 8 years late. My husband and I both took magnesium malate for about 6 days and we too were hyper stimulated. We are about 6 days out now. I sleep 5-6 hours but not restful.
      My husband is wide awake and can’t sleep unless he has a little alcohol, and with that only sleeps like an hour. It’s quite concerning. How long did it take for you to get back to normal and sleep?

  11. I usually supplement with 125mg nightly with magnesium, but I was still having waking up in the middle of the night for a few hours so I tried to bump up my magnesium glycinate to 300mg along with 500mg of calcium to get a full night rest. I ended up waking up after less then an hour of sleep and was wired….fully alert and could not get back to sleep. I also had some slight nausea and anxiety. I did notice some time back I tried taking 300mg with the same results, I also take it right before bed. I won’t ever do that again, I am 5″8′ and 130 lbs. and very sensitive to supplementing. I also take a B-stress complex in the am and I have found it has helped my sleep, along with a low dose of VIT-D . I recently started Calcium 500mg in the morning and 500 at bedtime, I think I will take my calcium around dinner time and cut back on the magnesium for a week then go back to taking 150mg an hour before bed(or not) being awake all night is just awful! I mainly take mag/calcium for sleep issues(Menopause)I don’t do any HRT or sleeping aides . But last night at 2:30 I did take something to help me fall asleep , I finally did around 5:00am for UGH! Was it the 300mg of magnesium with the 500 mg of calcium? I also read that taking to much at bed time can start causing a detox is this true? I do get very thirsty during the night when taking magnesium even 125mg….

    1. All of this sounds very familiar to me too. When I first started taking magnesium last June I was having awesome results. I had plenty of energy, fewer ache sand pains in the morning and I was more relaxed. It was great. I kept raising the dosage and the effects got even better. I was taking 300mg three times a day. All of a sudden I began waking up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding in my chest and feeling totally revved up. I had to reduce it almost completely to stop it from happening. Now I use Remag an ionic liquid form of magnesium in very small amounts (5 drops in a glass of water) I sip this throughout the day and never at nighttime. This seems to work for me

    2. Hello Patricia,

      Thank you for your query about sleep and magnesium. As you know, magnesium is often used to support sleep as it is a cofactor for melatonin production (melatonin is made from the happy hormone serotonin). I usually recommend that it is taken on its own at bedtime, rather than with calcium. High levels of magnesium can promote a detox reaction, but usually at levels higher than 300 mg. Other cofactors are also needed for melatonin synthesis eg B6 and tryptophan (an amino acid) so it could be that you have a need for these. Tryptophan is not used in supplement form – good food sources are bananas, nuts, seeds and turkey. As a supplement 5-HTP is used (which is a precursor, please note this should not be taken with antidepressant medication). We do have a supplement called 5-HTP plus that contains 5-HTP, B6 and magnesium (50 mg per capsule) that is taken at bedtime.

      There can be other reasons for middle of the night waking eg high cortisol due to ongoing stress (so worth evaluating possible sources of stress in your life and have there been any recent changes which could be causing stress?). Also GABA is a brain neurotransmitter that is calming and it may be that you are not producing enough, low levels can be associated with anxiety. B6 is also important for GABA production and there are other supplements that are used to support this pathway. We do offer a free health questionnaire service that may be of interest to you – if you complete and return a health questionnaire we will send you some diet and supplement recommendations.

      All the best,

  12. Hi I was taking 400mg of magnesium glycinate a day for about 2 weeks (previously magnesium citrate has worked wonders for falling asleep) but found that instead of helping me sleep it was doing the opposite and keeping me up revved and energised throughout the night. I stopped taking it after 2 weeks, but almost 2 weeks later I’m still not sleeping properly and the days of sleep debt are adding up. I’m writing this at 3am and desperate – my health is deteriorating and I just can’t get the sleep I need. Does anyone know how long thislasts for? Is there anything I can do to get it out of my system quicker or lessen the effects so I can have at least one nights decent sleep?

    1. Hello Miranda

      I am not sure why you might have experienced this effect. Is there anything else that happened around this time that would explain your disturbed sleep? There are two brain neurotransmitters that are important for sleep – serotonin (which is then converted to melatonin, the sleep hormone) and GABA (a calming brain chemical). Magnesium is important for both of these pathways and is often used successfully to support sleep but there are also a number of cofactor nutrients.

      If the problem is with falling asleep then you could try our Cyto Night product that contains Montmorency cherry (a natural source of melatonin) along with glycine, magnesium citrate and hops. Alternatively if waking in the middle of the night is the problem then I would suggest Biofood Magnesium (100 mg magnesium citrate per tablet, 2 at bedtime), plus you could take 5-HTP Plus (5-HTP, magnesium and vitamin B6). 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin.

      An amino acid called L-theanine supports GABA production and increases alpha brain waves associated with relaxation and sleep. This can be taken at bedtime or in the middle of the night on waking.

      You might also be interested in our free health questionnaire service. If you complete and return a health questionnaire we will send you some written diet and supplement recommendations.

      Best wishes, Clare

  13. With regards to Miranda’s post, I too have experienced the same thing. I was taking Doctors Best magnesium (a dose of 2 capsules @ 100 mg. each = 200 mg. per dose). One dose in the morning and the other is the late afternoon. This helped me to sleep for the first 2 or 3 days and then the insomnia kicked in. I was curious as to why this affected some people but not everyone else (verified through visiting other blogs and Amazon expressing other peoples testimonies). I than found an article written by Dr. Nancy Mullen who explains that, for some people, glycine can be excitatory which explains why I couldn’t sleep. I have stopped taking it and am looking for alternatives. Here’s the web link for the article in case you’re interested. http://nancymullanmd.com/glutamate-and-gaba-balance/ I hope you find a solution.

    1. Hi Shannon,
      Thank you for your comment. 5-HTP Plus is a combination product providing 5-HTP alongside vitamin B6 and magnesium – nutrients which are necessary for the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.
      Many thanks,

  14. I have found taking magnesium has caused me to have alot of energy to the point of insomnia.Leg cramps reduced but amazes me how internet full of magnesium causes you to sleep.Actually magnesium is needed to create mitochondria and atp which give you energy.

  15. I have also had the same problems as above.
    Have taken magnesium for muscle twitches and tightness but have had terrible sleep since upping the dose. I literally have spent 3 nights with zero sleep.
    It’s like my brain is wired in the on position and won’t switch off.
    Am I taking too much 600-700 elemental citrate daily

    1. Hi Neal,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you are taking 600mg to 700mg of elemental magnesium per day then yes, this is a high dose. If this is the dose of magnesium citrate then it would not be such a high dose (for example 500mg of magnesium citrate provides 80mg of elemental magnesium).

      Sometimes doses around 600mg of elemental magnesium are used under supervision of a nutritional therapy or other healthcare practitioner in the short term, but at that dose you may be stimulating detoxification pathways significantly.

      I would have a break from it for a week or two and then perhaps reintroduce it at a much lower dose. I am not sure which product you are taking – but start with a dose of around 100mg and then you could increase to 200mg. Please do get back in touch again if you need to. My email is clare@cytoplan.co.uk and if you give me a little more background on what else you are taking and your specific health concerns, I will see if there is further advice I can give you.

      Best wishes,


  16. Many of these posts sounds very familiar to me. I was doing well on magnesium for about 2 months and suddenly I was waking up with heart palpitations at 2 am. I was also feeling very wired and anxious. I know that magnesium plays a critical role in the methylation cycle so it’s possible that excess magnesium might throw off neurotransmitters. I am familiar with this since I have a gene variant called MTHFR. About 40% of people have this variant in different degrees. It could explain why some people have no problems with magnesium and others do not. This brings up a whole new discussion that may or may not be relevant to you but it is definitely an issue for me.

  17. Me too. Magnesium at night = no sleep. Every time. I’ve also noticed that soy sauce and msg will keep me up til 4am as well. I get heart palpitations with that as well, though I’m not sure if the magnesium causes that, since I will never take a chance with it again at night, so it’s been awhile and I can’t remember. Even a soak with Epsom Salts will keep me up. I wish someone had an answer to this problem, as I see the many people have the problem, but no one has a solution.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your comment. As you know, magnesium is a co-factor for the synthesis of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and also for GABA (a calming brain neurotransmitter); it is also a muscle relaxant and so is often used by people who find it difficult to sleep. On the other hand, magnesium can also promote detoxification pathways (usually at high doses) and so this could be the reason that in some people it has the opposite effect – increased activity of the liver for example can increase body temperature and this could be a reason for waking.

      The detoxification effect of magnesium can be reduced by taking it alongside calcium, so this would be a possible option to try. Usually the ratio would be 2:1 or 1:1 calcium to magnesium. You could also perhaps try taking it in the morning rather than at bedtime.

      If you are having problems sleeping and would like some advice, we do offer a free health questionnaire service. If you complete and return a health questionnaire we will send you some diet and supplement recommendations.


  18. Hi ,I have problems sleeping and it turned into chronic insomnia for the last 7 months,i tried melatonin with no success and I’m taking magnesium glycinate but I’m awake most of the time i can’t fall asleep and I’m up most of the nights also have tinnitus very bad and lack of sleeping makes it even worse.I took mg 200mg than less then more i end up taking 600mg at night thinking it helps. My mg levels were at the very high limit so I think I just take too much ,i’m also low on vitamin b12 and i take supplements 1000 mcg a day. Any advice ?

    1. Hi Amelia,

      It might be best for you to contact me directly – amanda@cytoplan.co.uk – and I will be very happy to help you. I do need a little more information to really help and I am conscious not to share your personal information publicly. Certainly there is a fine balance with supplements such as melatonin and magnesium of the level that will enable sleep and the level that will disrupt it. Both are usually very effective at (low) physiological levels but have the opposite affect at higher levels.

      Look forward to hearing from you.


  19. I started giving my son (5 years old) 50mg of kids magnesium glycinate. He started waking up every hour at night (after about a week). Even worse, he was being rediculously defiant–attacking his little brother, and even pulling my hair when frustrated. I’ve stopped it and I look forward to him returning to normal. Thanks for the article. I haven’t found much about it increasing insomnia anywhere.

  20. You are so, so, wrong issuing this information about magnesium as general advice. Magnesium does induce insomnia for many, many people, they are telling you in their posts. Sleep biology is ultra complicated and you can’t take just one coenzyme from the serotonin pathway and say that it will improve sleep. If one were to suggest magnesium improves sleep, one should be suggesting that magnesium should be taken in a tiny dose (not per labelling on supplements) with an equally tiny amount of B6 (again, a tiny amount). Literally, at least for test purposes, no more than 1/20th of the RDA/RDI.

    1. Hi Gary – Thank you for your comment, we appreciate that sleep is a very complicated issue and it was not intended to comment that magnesium is a cure all for insomnia. However there is evidence that it can support sleep due to cofactor for serotonin but also aids muscle relaxation, it is a very very low risk intervention, so it can be useful to add to your routine. I understand that you feel the wording could be improved, apologies this particular blog was written by a third party.

    1. Hi Jackson – Insomnia is quite complicated as there can be multiple drivers. However, 1 tsp of Cytonight before bed can be useful to help improve sleep in the short term. Other supplements like magnesium and l-theanine can help support relaxation prior to bed.

  21. I am one who has horrible adverse reactions to ANY kind of magnesium supplement. I have tried liquid, pill, oil, sitz bath routes of administration. I have tried magnesium glyconate, citrate, oxalate, algae based and on and on. I have tried as low as 50mg and as high as 300mg. I have the same negative effects. Magnesium supplements CAUSE me to have leg cramps, extreme anxiety and restlessness/insomnia, feels like every nerve in my body is on fire. I have severe osteoporosis (lost ovaries at a very young age though on hrt, also long history of anorexia nervosa though now weight restored and eating very well) and some years ago was told to take a magnesium supplement along with my calcium and vitamin D supplement and sometimes K2 to help. I quickly discovered my body does not like magnesium. On advice to try different types of magnesium and different routes I tried all of them over the years with the same result. Even at tiny doses I feel the effects, though it might take two days for it to happen if tiny dose. I do eat a lot of high magnesium foods on a very regular basis such as beans, nuts, avocados, leafy greens daily (I am also pescovegetarian for many years). I don’t have a problem with the high magnesium in the food I eat. Only with supplements. I have also had issues with B12 supplements (anxiety, feels like every nerve on fire) and anything with natto in it will cause hives for me. My calcium supplement total for the day is some days 500mg and some 1000mg depending on how much I get in my diet each day, so I don’t think it is a matter of getting too much calcium. I have even tried just rubbing a tiny bit of magnesium oil on legs (I suffer shin splints also) and boom same result with restlessness/anxiety and leg cramps. I never have leg cramps otherwise. I can never find anything anywhere online for people like me who have adverse reactions to magnesium. My doctors often do not believe me. Its frustrating.

    1. Hi Elaine – This is indeed unusual and it is difficult to make a logic out of it from known physiological responses to magnesium. But there are still many unknowns in respect of unusual, rare and unpredictable reactions to substances, so whilst I don’t doubt what you say, I am not sure I can offer a solution. It does appear you would be wise to avoid magnesium supplements since you have experienced unpleasant side-effects from a variety of different forms of magnesium administered by different routes. As far as B12 is concerned there might be a logic here relating to methylation pathways in the body and the only way to understand this definitively would be to run a genetic profile. That could identify methylation issues and potential methyl trapping which might offer an explanation. One would need to understand the dose and form of the B12 with which you had a problem. So whilst I think there might be an identifiable answer for part of what you describe, it does sound as if you are in tune with your body and know what you do and don’t need. The other option would be to do blood tests to see if nutrients such as B12 are in fact low. But as you don’t have adverse effects from foods try and eat as well as you can, organic if possible and lots of dark green vegetables and brightly coloured fruits. I hope this helps. Thanks, Amanda

    2. Hi Elaine, did you finally get back to sleeping well? My husband also is having very bad reaction to some magnesium malate that he took for body aches and energy, only took for 6 days. Now 6 days out he can’t sleep without drinking some alcohol and that only lets him sleep for about a few hours. He feels no drowsiness at all. He stopped taking it days ago. I wonder how long it will take for this to get out of his body and when he can go back to normal. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to him. I hope you are better now, if you would kindly share your experience, I would really appreciate it. Thank you, Noni

  22. “As a citrate it is readily absorbed into the bloodstream via the citric acid cycle.”

    Seriously, this statement shows a complete lack of understanding of both what the citric acid cycle actually is, as well as how molecules are absorbed.

    I wouldn’t listen to anything on this website. Pseudoscience galore.

    1. Hi Patrick – the blog to which you refer was written in 2013 and I do appreciate that long since then the citric acid cycle has been referred to as the pyruvate cycle. Also I appreciate the mechanism described in this article is somewhat simplistic but there is extensive data that demonstrates magnesium citrate is a bioeffective form of magnesium

  23. hello! great article! last night, i took around 375mg of magnesium which consisted of three types of supplements, and i couldnt sleep at all!!! usually i take about 225 mg of magnesium, and i get great sleep. I never knew about this extra dosage causing active detox processes till I read your article! Thank you!

  24. This is only one of a few articles about this topic on the internet. My husband and I both took magnesium malate about 425 mg for about 6 days total. We both were very energized and hyper from it. It helped us to exercise and my husband works outdoors, physical job. However, he and I started having sleeping issues. I slept for about 4 hours but hard to get to sleep. We stopped taking it completely, it is 6 days out since we stopped. My husband is still not sleeping and he is wide awake in the middle of the night, and can’t sleep until he drinks some alcohol. Even then, is only asleep for a few hours. He is not tired during the day and is very stimulated. I believe it is still in his system he can drive, exercise and work, he also is not drowsy, but yawns all day long- he just can’t sleep without aid of alcohol. Melatonin does not work at all, in fact has the opposite effect and kept him awake. Does anybody else have this experience and how long did it take to get back to normal? We are not drinkers or smokers, or take any prescription drugs, the only thing he added to his routine was B12 vitamin a few days before we started taking the magnesium malate. I am now able to sleep today about 6 hours so it seems to be wearing off on me. But I would like to know, what are other people’s experience with this form of magnesium malate and what they did.

    1. Hi there, I’m afraid that as we don’t provide a magnesium malate supplement, it is difficult for us to advise.

      For insomnia we would recommend our Biofood Magnesium. This is a food form of magnesium, so extremely bioeffective. For frequent waking we recommend it is taken half an hour before bed on an empty stomach – start with 1 tablet then increase to 2 if required.

      Another supplement that might be very supportive is our L-Theanine. You can read more about it in this blog: L-theanine – the meditation compound – Cytoplan

    2. I m having the same reaction on magnesium malate. I don t sleep at all. Don t feel tired. Has it worn off for you and your husband?

  25. OK, I’ve been dealing with this for over 20 years.. it’s the magnesium – all kinds. I’ve tried every kind. It doesn’t matter what form it is, it causes me insomnia every time. Even if I take a small amount, after several days it seems to build up and I can’t sleep and then it takes several more days for it to leave my system. The thing is, when I am on magnesium and can’t sleep I am also not tired during the day!
    There have been times when I’ve been without sleep for several days and I’m not the least bit tired on magnesium. Wired and anxious, but not tired. So yes, IT IS the magnesium, no question. I really wish someone would really look into this phenomenon and quit suggesting it is something else or that I need to take something with magnesium to help with sleep. L-theanine, glycine, B5, tryptophan, inositol, 5htp, ashwagana, valerian, lemon balm, skullcap, melatonin.. none of those work to help sleep while on magnesium. The magnesium over rides everything. So I eat lots of almonds, pumpkin seeds and other magnesium rich foods and I am fine and hopefully getting enough. But seriously, this a real issue for many people and many people probably don’t realize it and are having sleep issues unnecessarily.

    1. Hi There – thank you very much for your feedback. Our team of nutritional therapists will get in touch with you via email so we can gain a little more information and hopefully offer you some insight.

  26. I realize I have a lot going on but Magnesium Oxide that (comes with calcium and Zinc) right before bed seems to be wiring me up – even worse insomnia than ever but maybe helping some with restless legs. I am an older adult- 61. I also take a multi in the morning with iron, and D3+K2 in the morning, and NAC. I take a Turmeric /saffron/cinnamon/cardamon supplement at night. I think it is either the Turmeric combo supplement or the Magnesium supplement causing worse insomnia- but both were recommended to help me sleep. The NAC is really a mystery for me- haven’t ever taken it before so maybe it is responsible for increased insomnia? But I take it first thing in the morning. I only take about 150 mg magnesium before bed but the Zinc in that capsule is pretty high dose- says it provides 200% of recommended daily percentage. I have been taking all these vitamins and supplements for a month trying to help with low mood, and mostly bad sleep quality. I think my low mood is really caused primarily from YEARS of unaddressed sleep issues (every night insomnia and waking up multiple times each night ) Thoughts?

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