Ask the doctor: What's the benefit of taking magnesium supplements?

Q. A friend told me she takes magnesium pills every day. Does this improve your health?

A. Most people get all the magnesium they need from a normal diet. However, there are several diseases and treatments that can cause magnesium deficiency: Crohn's disease (an inflammatory condition of the intestine), celiac disease, inadequately treated diabetes, alcohol abuse, gastric bypass surgery, and diuretic medicines. People with these conditions or treatments should have their blood levels of magnesium checked periodically. If those levels are low, they should consider taking magnesium pills or eating lots of foods rich in magnesium: nuts, fish, certain fruits, many vegetables, and whole grains.

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