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Eat these foods for natural doses of magnesium, says sleep expert

Magnesium is often touted as a sleep aid, and the search term “magnesium sleep” has over 840 million views on TikTok.

But is taking magnesium supplements safe?

Magnesium supplements can help induce sleep if people have a magnesium deficiency or aren’t getting enough of the mineral in their diet, but “it’s not the cure-all that a lot of people are saying it is,” says Shelby Harris, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis

“It works totally different from, say, melatonin. What it really does is it helps to almost calm the body. It’s not really a sleep aid. I always say it sets the stage for sleep,” Harris tells CNBC Make It.

“It can even slow down the heart a little bit, and then slow the body, slow the brain. It’s like a relaxant essentially.”

A key factor when taking magnesium in supplement form is the dosage. The highest dose of magnesium supplements recommended for adults is no more than 350 milligrams a day, says Harris.

Yet, you can border a fine line between better sleep and harmful side effects depending on the dosage, she adds, which is why it’s really important to speak with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

“Sometimes people are taking too much magnesium,” Harris says, but even small amounts of magnesium from supplements can have adverse effects on certain people.

Potential health concerns associated with taking magnesium supplements are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Heartbeat irregularities or other heart issues
  • Kidney issues
  • Negative interactions with other medications

“Just getting it from your diet might be better,” says Harris. “A lot of people are just magnesium deficient because they’re not eating enough foods with it. So, you don’t necessarily need to take a supplement.”

10 foods with natural doses of magnesium

Here are 10 foods that naturally contain magnesium, according to Harris and Harvard Health Publishing:

  1. Spinach
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Almonds
  4. Eggs
  5. Milk
  6. Bananas
  7. Certain yogurts
  8. Bran flakes
  9. Baked potatoes (with the skin on)
  10. Kidney beans

Harris recommends her patients try a snack of sugar-free yogurt with almonds or peanut butter for better sleep: “I always tell people about an hour before bed. The mix of protein and carbs can be helpful for some people,” by providing a calming effect that preps them for sleep, she says.

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