Magnesium and Interstitial Cystitis: How This Mineral May Help Relieve Your Symptoms
Updated: May 3
What exactly is magnesium? Is it beneficial to consume to help pelvic pain symptoms? What food items should I consume to get in the daily recommended amount? Are magnesium supplements safe to consume?
Have these questions come to mind? In this post I’m going to discuss what magnesium is, the different forms of magnesium, food sources of magnesium, magnesium consumption helping with pelvic pain and Interstitial Cystitis (IC), and magnesium supplements.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body that is naturally present in foods. Magnesium is available as a supplement and is often an ingredient found in laxatives and antacids. It acts as a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body such as protein synthesis, blood glucose control, energy production, and blood pressure regulation (1).
Magnesium is known to have many health benefits and specific benefits that can help those with interstitial cystitis (IC). Magnesium supports overall muscle and nerve function, reduces inflammation, improves mental health, and relieves constipation.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 300-400mg/day for women 19 years and older. It is unlikely one would consume too much magnesium from food, however, magnesium toxicity can occur if you consume high doses of magnesium from supplements (1).
Different Forms of Magnesium:
Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms. This can be confusing! The different forms can help alleviate your specific symptoms and other health conditions you are experiencing. Below are the different supplement forms of magnesium that you can find on the market:
This form is best used for general health purposes and cell function for the general replacement of magnesium. It has better gastrointestinal tolerance compared to other forms as well it may help with reducing anxiety, stress, depression, and insomnia (7). This form is recommended to be taken at night as it has been shown to improve your quality of sleep (6).
This is one of the most common forms of magnesium and is bound to citric acid. Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits and is well known to be a bladder irritant. Magnesium Citrate helps to relieve constipation due to its natural laxative effects (7). You will find a loosening of your stool because not all of the magnesium will be absorbed (4).
A low-grade form of magnesium is the least absorbed and not recommended for the general replacement of magnesium. Although often cheaper, you might want to avoid this form as some individuals experience gastrointestinal issues (3).
This form is commonly referred to as Epsom salt. It can be used as a soaking solution added into water to relieve and soothe muscle aches, soreness, and discomfort, and relieve stress. As well it can be consumed to help with constipation (7).
This form of magnesium can help with digestion and constipation. It aids in digestion by assisting in nutrient absorption. If you experience constipation or diarrhea, your pelvic floor may be dysfunctional. Magnesium lactate can also contribute to reduced muscle elasticity (the ability to stretch your muscles), tension, and recovery.
This is formed from mixing magnesium and threonic acid and is the product of the breakdown of vitamin C. It is shown to raise magnesium levels in the brain which is shown to have potential brain benefits. It appears to help with the function of neurons working effectively and manages brain disorders such as memory loss and depression (7).
This form of magnesium combines magnesium and malic acid, known for boosting energy levels and improving nerve and muscle function, which can help reduce pain. It also can relax smooth muscle tissue and even reduce the frequency and intensity of bladder urges/contractions. In addition, it can help relax tight pelvic floor muscles, which could result in a reduction in pelvic pain.
What Food Items Contain Magnesium?
Magnesium is available in many animal and plant forms. In addition, magnesium is added and fortified into different foods such as cereals.
IC-friendly sources of magnesium:
Bladder-friendly foods containing magnesium include pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, potato, rice, oatmeal, kidney beans, salmon, and avocado (2).
Can Magnesium help with Pelvic Pain and IC?
Pelvic pain is caused by many factors that include neurological, musculoskeletal, gynecology, urologic, and gastrointestinal sources. Research shows that a sufficient amount of magnesium is important for optimal nerve transmission and neuromuscular coordination (5). This is because of magnesium's particular role in our bodies.
Magnesium is involved in the process of the active transport of calcium and potassium ions crossing cell membranes. This process is important to nerves and muscle contraction (1).
There is very limited research specifically on the use of magnesium for IC. However, due to magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties, support in muscle relaxation, support in essential muscle and nerve functions, and bone health, it has been shown to help individuals with pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic pain (3).
A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation in 2020 found that Magnesium L-Threonate (L-TAMS) supplementation can be used to treat pain, comorbid depression, and memory deficits in bladder pain syndrome and interstitial cystitis. Researchers found that magnesium deficiency in rats was correlated with mechanical allodynia (painful sensation caused by stimuli like a light touch) and comorbid depressive-like behaviors and memory deficits. Magnesium L-Threonate as a therapeutic agent was found to reverse the magnesium deficiency in the rats with cystitis and reduced mechanical allodynia and comorbid depressive-like behaviors and memory deficits (8).
It can be difficult to get in the recommended amount of magnesium per day. This is when supplementing magnesium into your daily diet can be beneficial.
National Dietary surveys in the United States show that most individuals are not consuming the recommended amount per day. However, there are few observable symptoms that are noticed when you have a low to moderate magnesium deficiency. This is because of the kidney's job of limiting magnesium excretion from the body.
When an individual has severe magnesium deficiency symptoms occur such as poor appetite, weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and numbness or tingling of the skin. Severe magnesium deficiency occurs when there has been a consistently low consumption of magnesium in the diet for long periods of time, excessive loss of magnesium due to a health condition, malabsorption, alcoholism, and use of medications (ex: PPI, antibiotics, diuretics) (2).
A blood test is performed to measure your magnesium levels. Talk to your doctor about getting this checked if you are worried you may have a deficiency.
It is important to note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness. A company can put any claim on its supplement without getting in trouble for it. It is important to be a safe and informed consumer! Do your own research on the brand prior to buying a supplement.
Look at the ingredients list for the magnesium supplement brand you choose. Often some brands contain citric acid in the ingredient list which has been found to be an irritant for some individuals with IC.
It can be incredibly overwhelming how many supplement brands there are sold in stores and online!
We recommend the following Supplement brands:
Desert Harvest - Use code CKNUTR22 for 10% off your first order
Garden of Life
West Coast Mint - Use code CKN15 for 15% off
Magnesium supports overall muscle and nerve function, reduces inflammation, improves mental health, and relieves constipation. Magnesium supplementation has been found to alleviate symptoms related to pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic pain, and improve mood disorders. There are many forms of magnesium that you can supplement with to help with your particular symptoms. Magnesium Glycinate form is the recommended form for supplementation use for general health purposes.
Contact your doctor before starting a magnesium supplement. The magnesium in supplements can interact with types of medications such as bisphosphonates, antibiotics, diuretics, and Proton pump inhibitors. (1).
Everyone with IC is different and therefore has an individual treatment plan. This means what may work for one person may not work for another. Dietary supplements are just one piece of the puzzle.
You will likely need a variety of modifications to produce results. Diet modification, pelvic floor physical therapy, stress management, and medications may be a few other pieces of the puzzle.
Feeling like you need individualized guidance with your diet? Callie K Nutrition offers a variety of programs that can help you reach your nutrition goals AND get relief from interstitial cystitis. Learn more here.
Written by: Liesel Abraham, Dietetic Intern
Edited by: Callie Krajcir, RD, Owner of Callie K Nutrition
National Institute of Health. “Magnesium: Fact sheet for professionals”. (June 1, 2022). Retrieved on March 30, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
Harvard T.H. CHan School of Public Health. “Magnesium”. (March 2023). Retrieved on March 30, 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/#:~:text=RDA%3A%20The%20Recommended%20Dietary%20Allowance,cause%20harmful%20effects%20on%20health.
7 types of magnesium & their benefits. (2022). Retrieved March 30th, 2023 from https://www.naturemade.com/blogs/health-articles/7-types-of-magnesium-their-benefits
The nutrition Supplement Dietitian. Retrieved March 30th, 2023 from https://mysupplementrd.com/product/magnesium-glycinate-cardiometabolic-neurocognitive-musculoskeletal-health/
Kirkland, A. E., Sarlo, G. L., & Holton, K. F. (2018). The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients, 10(6), 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060730).
Cleveland Clinic. (2021). “Does magnesium help you sleep” Retrieved March 30th, 2023 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/does-magnesium-help-you-sleep/
Hill, Ansley. (July 12, 2022). 10 Interesting Types of Magnesium (and what to use for each). Retrieved April 3rd, 2023 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-types
Chen, J. L., Zhou, X., Liu, B. L., Wei, X. H., Ding, H. L., Lin, Z. J., Zhan, H. L., Yang, F., Li, W. B., Xie, J. C., Su, M. Z., Liu, X. G., & Zhou, X. F. (2020). Normalization of magnesium deficiency attenuated mechanical allodynia, depressive-like behaviors, and memory deficits associated with cyclophosphamide-induced cystitis by inhibiting TNF-α/NF-κB signaling in female rats. Journal of neuroinflammation, 17(1), 99. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-020-01786-5