By Suzy Cohen, R.Ph.
Suzy is known as "America's Most Trusted Pharmacist." As a pharmacist for 22 years and a newspaper columnist with 20 million readers each week, she has devoted her life to helping all of us feel better. She's been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The View, Good Morning America, Mercola.com, The 700 Club, The Huffington Post, and much more. She prides herself on "thinking outside the pill."
Suzy gave us permission to reprint a section from her latest book, Drug Muggers: Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients--and Natural Ways to Restore Them. (Available on Amazon.com, or wherever books are sold.)
What Drugs Deplete Your Body of Magnesium?
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Famotidine (Pepcid and Pepcid Complete)
- Nizatidine (Axid)
- Omeprazole (Prilosec OTC)
- Pantoprazole (Protonix)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
- Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
- Aluminum and magnesium hydroxide (Maalox, Mylanta)
- Aluminum carbonate gel (Basaljel)
- Aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel, AlternaGEL)
- Calcium carbonate (Tums, Titralac, Rolaids)
- Magnesium hydroxide (Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia)
- Sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer, baking soda)
Antibiotics (a few examples)
- Amoxicillin (Amoxil)
- Azithromycin (Z-Pak)
- Cefaclor (Ceclor)
- Cefdinir (Omnicef)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- Doxycycline (Doryx)
- Erythromycin (E.E.S.)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- Minocycline (Minocin)
- Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra)
- Tetracycline (Sumycin)
- Delavirdine (Rescriptor)
- Foscarnet (Foscavir)
- Lamivudine (Epivir)
- Nevirapine (Viramune)
- Zidovudine, AZT (Retrovir)
- Zidovudine and Lamivudine (Combivir)
Blood Pressure Drugs
- Hydralazine (Apresoline)
- Enalapril and HCTZ (Vaseretic)
Angiotensin II receptor blockers:
- Valsartan and HCTZ (Diovan HCT)
- Bumetanide (Bumex)
- Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)
- Furosemide (Lasix)
- Torsemide (Demadex)
Diuretics, thiazide (and any combination drug that contains HCTZ or hydrochlorothiazide—dozens of drugs contain this)
- Candesartan and HCTZ (Atacand HCT)
- Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
- Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
- Hydrochlorothiazide or HCTZ (Hydrodiuril)
- Methyclothiazide (Enduron)
- Metolazone (Zaroxolyn)
Possibly the potassium-sparing diuretics, however this is not conclusive
- Indapamide (Lozol)
- Cardiac Glycoside
- Digoxin (Digitek, Lanoxicaps, Lanoxin)
Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants
- Methylphenidate (Metadate, Ritalin)
- Cholestyramine (Questran)
- Colestipol (Colestid)
- Betamethasone (Diprolene, Luxiq)
- Dexamethasone (Decadron)
- Hydrocortisone (Cortef)
- Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
- Mometasone (Elocon)
- Prednisolone (Pediapred Liquid)
- Prednisone (Deltasone, Liquid Pred, Sterapred)
- Triamcinolone (Aristocort cream)
- Flunisolide (Nasarel, Nasalide)
- Futicasone (Flonase)
- Triamcinolone (Azmacort inhaler)
Hormone Replacement Therapy / Oral Contraceptives
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
- Estradiol (Activella, Climara, Combipatch, Estrace, Estraderm, Estring, EstroGel, Femring, Menostar, and many others)
- Estrogen-containing drugs (hormone replacement therapy and birth control)
- Estrogens, conjugated (Premphase, Prempro)
- Estrogens, esterified (Estratab)
- Estropipate (Ogen)
- Ethinyl estradiol (found in many birth control pills)
- Levonorgstrel (found in many birth control pills)
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral)
- Tacrolimus (Prograf)
Nonsteroidal Aromatase Inhibitors for breast cancer
- Anastrozole (Arimidex)
- Raloxifene (Evista)
SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators—used for breast cancer)
- Raloxifene (Evista)
- Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)
- Toremifene (Fareston)
- Sulfa antibiotics, some diabetic medications
- Calcium supplementation (prolonged or in excess)
- Estrogen dominance
- High cortisol levels
- High-sugar diet (glucose, fructose, sucrose)
- Malabsorption of any sort (celiac or Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, crash dieting, anorexia)
- Mineral oil
Magnesium has to be one of my all-time favorite minerals because it has beneficial effects all over the body. Think of it as your chill pill because it makes you relax from your head down to your toes. Magnesium is important for a good mood, first and foremost, but most people don’t realize it’s also necessary for stabilizing blood pressure. Without enough magnesium, your blood pressure rises. You need the mineral to keep your heart beating in perfect rhythm and to keep your pancreas functioning optimally.
Deficiencies of magnesium can lead to cardiac and blood sugar issues. Western societies are short on magnesium in part as a result of soil depletion and the processing of food. I believe this is one reason why we are seeing so much heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Magnesium is not as chic as calcium. You don’t see people wearing magnesium mustaches, do you? If you did, they’d be green, since magnesium is found in a lot of green foods, including seaweed, spinach, turnip greens, and spirulina. It would not be pretty.
I feel that magnesium is so important that without enough of it in your system, you will suffer more diseases in your lifetime and die sooner than if you had normal, healthy levels. Seriously, it’s that important.
Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle weakness, tremor, and spasm. Your heart is a muscle. If you get a spasm or tremor in your heart, you’re in trouble. In fact, magnesium deficiency can cause arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, irregular contraction, and rapid heart rate. Some studies show that magnesium also benefits people with asthma by preventing bronchospasm.
Magnesium is so protective of the brain that when you run low, you are more prone to migraines, insomnia, anxiety, phobias, brain fog, depression, and suicidal thoughts. A deficiency of this mighty mineral could result in more frequent headaches, migraines, fasciculation (twitching), muscle pain, fibromyalgia, poor nail growth, and asthma. And if that’s not bad enough, you could also develop leg cramps, tenderness all over your body, a weak heart, high blood pressure, and thicker, stickier blood.
Since magnesium is married to calcium and used to build bone, a magnesium deficiency could cause bone brittleness (osteoporosis), a condition more likely to occur in women. In fact, women have a particularly hard time of it when they run low on magnesium. In addition to osteoporosis, we see a lot more emotional instability and PMS symptoms such as tearfulness, cramps, mood swings, and irritability—even panic attacks.
Kids need magnesium for healthy brain function. Studies have shown that low magnesium can cause attention deficit problems. In fact, medical researchers have known about this effect for quite some time. One study done way back in 1997 found that 95 percent of kids with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) were deficient in magnesium. In 1987, another trial included 75 magnesium-deficient children with ADHD who were randomly assigned to receive either magnesium along with their standard treatment or just their standard treatment alone for 6 months. Those who received magnesium showed a significant improvement in personality and behavior, while the control group exhibited worsening behavior over the study period. This explains why many natural supplements for ADHD contain magnesium. The mineral helps relax the brain and allow more focus.
This book is for adults, not children, so the doses I suggest throughout the book are adult doses. But it seems necessary to include appropriate daily children’s doses here: For children 1 to 3 years old, 80 mg; for children 4 to 8, 130 mg; and for children 9 to 13, 240 mg. Make sure you let your child’s pediatrician know about the supplement. If your child takes medication, you’ll want to get the doctor’s approval before starting.
I often recommend this mineral to people with depression (for mood stability), fibromyalgia (because it reduces muscle pain), and anger management problems and for aggressive personalities (for its calming effects). Make no mistake, if you are married to a Tasmanian devil who blows his or her fuse at the sight of dirty dishes, magnesium won’t do a thing for it. It’s really for people who want to chill out a bit more, stop being worrywarts, feel more content, or reduce the frequency of panic attacks.
Some experts think magnesium has a place in treating suicidal depression, and I happen to agree. Anyone with serious depression should, of course, be under a doctor’s care. But do ask the doctor about adding a magnesium supplement to the treatment regimen. It goes without saying that it’s a good bet for milder forms of depression as well. Many of my readers have taken magnesium for this reason with good results after reading a syndicated column that I wrote on the subject, “Natural Ways to Ease Depression and Reduce Anxiety.” It is now posted on my Web site, www.DearPharmacist.com.
I’ve saved the best surprise of all for last: One bar of exceptionally dark chocolate contains about 300 mg of magnesium. I’ve drawn the conclusion that chocolate is not only good for your soul, it’s also good for your brain! Sweet.
UPDATE: A reader emailed and asked us, "Why did Suzy specify how much magnesium kids should take, but not adults?" So we asked her. This was her answer...
For general drug mugging replenishment, I usually just say 300 - 400 mg once or twice daily.
With a person who has a heart arrhythmia, who has been shown via testing to be magnesium-wasting or deficient (as measured by erythrocyte mag levels), then I think it's safer to go a little higher, with doctor's supervision of course and not forever (a shorter term).
Tests used to determine mag levels are either RBC mag levels (blood draw) or something like a NutrEval by Genova, or Spectracell analysis or Metametrix (your practitioners will know what this is).
With your product [Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT], since it has malic acid, it is great for people with fibro and muscle pain too, and I like the dose of 2 tabs twice a day. But with MD approval, I think you could even higher. The only problem with too much mag is that it tilts the sister minerals out of balance, and after chronic ingestion of high mag dosing, you could see a relative deficiency in other minerals like calcium, zinc, etc.
With cheap brands, you see the diarrhea as you know.
Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT is an easy and effective way to get the magnesium your body needs!