Acid reflux and magnesium
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close off the esophagus from the stomach. This allows acid in your stomach to flow back into your esophagus, leading to irritation and pain. You may experience a sour taste in your mouth, a burning sensation in the chest, or feel like food is coming back up your throat.
Living with this condition can be bothersome. Infrequent reflux can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Some of these contain magnesium combined with other ingredients. Magnesium may help neutralize the acid in your stomach. It can give you short-term relief from acid reflux symptoms.
What are the benefits of magnesium?
- Higher intake of magnesium is associated with greater bone density.
- It can reduce your risk for hypertension.
- Magnesium may also reduce your risk for diabetes.
Magnesium plays an important role in several of your body’s functions, including bone formation. Not only does it help calcify the bone, it activates vitamin D within the body. Vitamin D is a key component of healthy bones.
The mineral also plays a role in heart health. Magnesium consumption has been linked with a reduced risk of hypertension and atherosclerosis.
It also has an impact on carbohydrate and glucose metabolism, which can reduce your risk for diabetes. Higher consumption can also reduce your insulin sensitivity.
When magnesium is supplemented as a combination therapy with prescription medications for acid reflux, it can also decrease magnesium deficiency.
What the research says
There are many OTC and prescription treatment options available for occasional acid reflux. They include antacids, H2 receptors, and proton pump inhibitors.
Magnesium is an ingredient found in many treatments for acid reflux. Antacids frequently combine magnesium, aluminum, and calcium with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions. This mixture can neutralize acid and relieve your symptoms.
Magnesium can also be found in other treatments, such as proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. A 2014 study concluded that proton pump inhibitors containing pantoprazole magnesium improved GERD.
A separate study credited these medications with healing the esophagus and reducing symptoms. Magnesium was easily tolerated by participants.
Risks and warnings
- Some people may experience side effects after consuming magnesium.
- Antacids aren’t recommended for children or people with kidney disease.
- Proton pump inhibitors aren’t recommended for extended use.
Although magnesium is generally well-tolerated, some people may experience side effects. On its own, magnesium can cause diarrhea. To combat this, aluminum is often included in acid reflux medication. Aluminum can cause constipation.
One drawback is that antacids with aluminum can cause calcium loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Antacids should only be used to alleviate occasional acid reflux.
Stomach acid is necessary to help absorb magnesium in the stomach. Chronic use of antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and other acid-blocking medications can decrease overall stomach acid and perpetuate poor magnesium absorption.
Excessive magnesium supplementation, or over 350 milligrams (mg) per day, can also result in diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping. More adverse reactions are seen in those with compromised kidney function. This is because the kidneys cannot adequately excrete excess magnesium.
Fatal reactions have been identified in doses above 5,000 mg per day.
Other treatments for acid reflux
OTC and prescription medications aren’t the only treatments for acid reflux. Making adjustments to your lifestyle can have a major impact on your symptoms.
To reduce symptoms, you can:
- eat smaller meals
- exercise regularly
- lose weight
- sleep with the head of your bed elevated 6 inches
- cut out late-night snacking
- track foods that cause symptoms and avoid eating them
- avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing
There may be alternative therapies you can try to reduce your symptoms as well. These aren’t regulated by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and should be taken with caution.
What you can do now
Acid reflux is a common condition. Infrequent episodes of reflux can be treated with medications that contain magnesium and other ingredients. If you’d like to increase your magnesium intake, remember to:
- Talk to you doctor about magnesium supplements.
- Add magnesium-rich foods to your diet. This includes whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Only take or consume up to 350 mg per day, unless instructed otherwise.
You can also make lifestyle adjustments to decrease your acid reflux symptoms. Exercising, eating smaller meals, and avoiding certain foods may decrease the times you experience acid reflux.
If your symptoms persist, you should talk with your doctor. They can assess your current treatment plan and determine the best course of action for you. Your doctor can discuss ways for you to reduce chronic symptoms and may suggest medication or surgery to repair any damage to your esophagus.