How to increase absorption of magnesium?
March 11, 2014 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Is my birth control hindering magnesium absorption?

I'm wondering if there is a way to increase magnesium absorption while taking birth control pills. I have some mild anxiety/mood swings and chronic constipation (sorry, TMI), and last week, during the week of placebo pills, I started randomly taking 500 mg of mag oxide. I feel like it had a really positive effect on both issues - I was in a great mood all week, and I had to go to the bathroom every day. Now, I started up a new pack of birth control (Yaz, if it matters) and effects seem to have disappeared (normal anxiety levels back, bathroom trouble again) :( I found some info online that said that birth control can stop the absorption of magnesium.

Is there any way to get these magical effects back, short of going off birth control? I realize this could be a placebo effect, but it really seemed to have worked.

posted by queens86 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
a couple things -

could you up your dose of magnesium? you'll know you're taking too much if you get diarrhea.

are you super happy with the birth control you're on? Yaz has come under a LOT of scrutiny for giving ladies pulmonary embolisms at a higher rate than the others. (actually, that was Yasmin, if i remember correctly. and then they re-branded it.)

good luck!
posted by andreapandrea at 5:43 AM on March 11, 2014

I'm not a woman or on birth control, but I've suffered from similar symptoms (on both fronts) and I found that I had a similar experience with magnesium oxide - it seemed to make a huge difference at first (I took it after a period of intense stress, so I'm guessing my levels were very low) that then tapered off. I'm now taking magnesium citrate every day, which is supposed to be more easily absorbed by the body and (fingers crossed) seems to have continued working in a way that the oxide didn't.

The world of people talking about supplements online is so full of faux-science and anecdotal BS that it's hard to know what, if anything, is real (when I told my doctor that I was trying magnesium supplements, she politely chuckled at me and said that she didn't think it would do any harm but that she also didn't think it would do anything at all), but I'm pretty sure I also read that taking magnesium in concert with certain other vitamins or minerals (calcium, vitamin C) can improve absorption.

(Taking a daily probiotic can also be really helpful for both these symptoms - if you haven't tried one, I recommend it)
posted by raisindebt at 5:57 AM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is my birth control hindering magnesium absorption?

I don't know - what does your doctor say?
posted by saeculorum at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there any way to get these magical effects back

Get your magnesium in the form of huge quantities of green leafy salad with green vegetables (steamed green beans, snow peas, steamed zucchini, steamed asparagus and so forth). Seriously: make salads that look big enough for four people, and eat the lot. Go easy on the dressings - a simple vinaigrette is best.

The green in all these things is from chlorophyll, which is a magnesium compound, and that along with the huge extra dose of vegetable fibre will keep your gut working well.
posted by flabdablet at 7:41 AM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

the whole point of Epsom Salt baths is that absorption of Magnesium through the skin is much better than through the digestive system.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:35 AM on March 11, 2014

Simplest thing would be to try upping your dosage. You can also add Epsom salt baths, which are a lovely way to get transdermal magnesium.

For a while I needed a lot of magnesium - I had a host of health problems but one aspect was pretty serious muscle tension, cramping and pain. Magnesium helped noticeably with this so I took a lot. I took magnesium malate to bowel tolerance plus nightly epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths with (I think) about 2c of salts. I also tried magnesium (chloride) oil spray but it made my skin burn (lovely!) and so I never used it regularly enough to know if it helped.

(on preview, what AgentCorvid said!)
posted by pennypiper at 8:40 AM on March 11, 2014

Ask your pharmacist about your medication and its effect on mineral absorption - they will likely have more information in this area than your doc. If you're supplementing, you could take a more absorbable form of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate, for example, is a chelated form of magnesium. A chelate means the magnesium has generally been bound to amino acids for transport in the body - ideally taking it further into the digestive system (for absorption in the lower intestines).

So simply taking more or a different kind of magnesium might help here. As someone else said though, you'll know if you take too much (ie: loose stool).
posted by stubbehtail at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pumpkin seeds! They are one of the richest sources of magnesium you can get from food. And the magnesium from foods is better absorbed than that from supplements.

I try to eat a small handful (which is about 1/4 cup) every day, sometimes twice a day. I find the best bargain is to go to Sprouts and buy them in bulk. I won't buy in bulk anywhere other than Sprouts, though, as I've had bad experiences with stale pumpkin seeds from Raley's and Safeway. So if I can't get to Sprouts, I buy the packaged pumpkin seeds. Or, if it's fall and I'm making pumpkin whatever (soup, muffins, pie, etc.) I just roast the seeds myself with sea salt and vegetable oil.

Bonus: pumpkin seeds are also good sources of zinc, protein, iron and "good" fats.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:36 PM on March 11, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Lots of ideas -- I will definitely try some of these :)
posted by queens86 at 6:46 PM on March 11, 2014

I take a BCP, and mag glycinate works for me (Yay for relaxed muscles!). Your body can only absorb about 6% of any amount of Mag oxide. It is more likely that the mag oxide interferes with the BCP.
posted by monopas at 10:03 PM on March 11, 2014

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