The Impact of Magnesium on Human Health
Your body needs the mineral magnesium in order to function properly. However, that does not mean that you should take magnesium supplements indiscriminately. Too much supplemental magnesium can actually be dangerous to your health, and could potentially damage your heart, liver or lungs.
Function of Magnesium
Magnesium is a very common mineral in the human body; only three other minerals are present in your system in larger quantities, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements by the National Institutes of Health. Along with other minerals like calcium and phosphorus, magnesium is important for building strong bones and teeth. At normal levels, it is also necessary for hundreds of other bodily functions, including maintaining a strong immune system and regulating the heartbeat.
Recommended Magnesium Levels
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, your recommended daily allowance of magnesium can be provided either purely by your diet, or by a combination of your diet and magnesium supplements -- as long as your supplementation amounts do not exceed safe levels. Babies younger than 6 months need 30 mg of magnesium per day; those between 7 and 12 months old need 75 mg per day. Between ages 1 and 3 they need 80 mg daily, between ages 4 and 8 they need 130 mg daily, and between ages 9 and 13 they need 240 mg daily. Males between age 14 and 18 need 410 mg daily, while females the same age need 360 mg daily; males between 19 and 30 need 400 mg daily, while females need 310 mg; and males 31 or older need 420 mg daily, while females need 320 mg.
Unsafe Magnesium Levels
Consuming too much supplemental magnesium can lead to magnesium toxicity (excessively high levels of magnesium in your system). The magnesium found in foods like green vegetables, whole grains, nuts or beans, however, has not been found to cause any health problems. In its supplemental form, however, magnesium toxicity can cause nausea, diarrhea and weakness in relatively mild cases; or breathing and heart rate disorders, and even kidney or heart failure, in serious cases. These symptoms are most common in individuals who consume more than the tolerable upper intake level, or UL, of supplemental magnesium. For children ages 1 to 3, the supplemental magnesium UL is 65 mg per day; for those ages 4 to 8, the UL is 110 mg per day; and for individuals 9 years old through adulthood, the UL is 350 mg per day.