Is magnesium good for hangovers? If you’re asking this question, chances are you’ve tried other minerals and vitamins for a hangover and are wondering whether magnesium works as well.
People have been looking for a natural hangover cure since the discovery of alcohol. However, there are so many health fads out there that it’s hard to separate the facts from the myths.
In this article, we aim to take a closer look at the relationship between magnesium and alcohol to answer the question: Is magnesium actually good for hangovers?
Does drinking alcohol affect magnesium levels?
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals found in your body and is essential for life. It’s involved in the normal functioning of your metabolism, nervous system and muscles to mention a few.
Alcohol is well-known to disrupt magnesium levels by several different mechanisms. Firstly, alcohol has a diuretic effect on water and various minerals. What does this mean?
Well, it increases the amount of water that is lost from your kidneys as well as flushing out additional minerals with it too.(3)
It does this by blocking a hormone in the brain called antidiuretic hormone or ADH.
Secondly, magnesium is used up during the metabolism of alcohol and during the inflammatory process that occurs after heavy alcohol consumption.(4)
With that said, it’s important to mention that the effect of alcohol on magnesium has mainly been studied in chronic alcohol abuse.
Causes of a hangover
Before we get into whether magnesium works as a hangover remedy, we first need to go over how alcohol affects your body.
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you produce more urine, and therefore, lose more water. For every glass of wine you drink, you lose an extra 120ml of water. If you’ve had a few glasses of wine, this quickly adds up which causes dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of a hangover and is responsible for symptoms including dry mouth, feeling light-headed and lacking energy.
Inflammation is another major cause of a hangover. Alcohol is metabolized (broken down) in your liver to produce acetaldehyde. This is then broken down further into acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is toxic as it’s a highly unstable molecule that reacts with your cells causing inflammation. Your body has a system of antioxidants that neutralizes toxic by-products before they cause damage. However, during periods of overindulgence, this system is quickly depleted.
Alcohol also significantly disrupts your sleep quality and is an often overlooked cause of a hangover. Alcohol blocks you from reaching the REM stage of sleep which is crucial for resting your mind. Without getting to this stage, you won’t be fully rested.
In summary: Hangovers are caused by many different damaging effects of hangovers. It’s not a simple cause and effect relationshop.
So, does magnesium help hangovers in any way?
With the science of the way, let’s get straight into whether magnesium is good for hangovers or not
Is Magnesium good for hangovers?
So how can magnesium help with a hangover?
Well, there are studies that have shown minerals like magnesium, selenium, zinc, and copper could improve hangover symptoms by supporting your body’s antioxidant systems.(5)
However, at the time of writing, magnesium hasn’t been researched as a hangover remedy yet.
We also mentioned earlier that magnesium levels can be affected by drinking alcohol. Whether this contributes to hangover symptoms is also up for debate.
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When to take magnesium for hangovers
Despite the fact that it’s unclear whether magnesium works for a hangover not, you still may want to try it anyway.
By the time you’ve woken up with a hangover in the morning, most of the damage from alcohol has been done. The only thing that’ll help at this stage is time, sleep and water.
If magnesium is going to have any benefit for a hangover, it’s probably more useful to take during or straight after your last drink. This way, it’s available for your cells to use if required.
In summary, magnesium could support your body’s natural antioxidant defenses and replenish depleted stores. However, there isn’t any research available that has proven this.
AfterDrink contains 50mg of magnesium per serving
If you’re considering taking magnesium supplements for hangovers, it’s important to realize that they are not all the same.
Generally speaking, magnesium supplements arent absorbed very well from your gut. People often chose a supplement with the highest magnesium content in the belief that this will deliver the highest amount.
However, the type of magnesium is much more important as the way the supplement dissolves in your gut determines how much is absorbed.
For example, studies have shown that magnesium citrate is better absorbed than magnesium oxide.(6)
The food you eat also has an impact on magnesium absorption. High protein and fatty foods tend to increase the absorption of magnesium.(7)
It’s important to be aware of some side effects of taking magnesium. In most cases, magnesium is very well tolerated and the majority of people will have no side effects.
One of the most common side effects of taking magnesium is diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. These are also common hangover symptoms so it’s something to be aware of.
Is magnesium a hangover cure?
One thing’s for sure, magnesium will not cure your hangover. Therefore, sticking to the basics by drinking within your limits, keeping well hydrated and eating before going out is key to preventing the worst hangovers.
Food for thought
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve had too much alcohol for your liver to handle. Trying to “cure” a hangover with magnesium or any other supplement is the wrong approach.
The best way to cure a hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Drinking less at a slower pace, eating before going out and making sure you drink plenty of water is all that’s required to prevent the worst hangovers.
Sticking to lighter colored drinks such as gin and white wine may also help. This is because darker drinks like red wine and whiskey contain much higher concentrations of congeners. These are by-products produced during the aging process of alcohol which has been shown in studies to make hangovers a lot more severe. You can read more about this in our article about congeners.
Magnesium for hangovers – Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look into whether taking magnesium for hangovers has any benefit.
Magnesium levels can be decreased by drinking alcohol and it’s particularly a problem with chronic alcohol use. It’s unlikely that casual drinking in moderation is going to have any effect on magnesium.
Whether magnesium is good for reducing hangover symptoms is currently unknown. It could potentially support your body’s antioxidant defense systems.
If you’re interested in other natural remedies which could potentially help with hangovers, check out our article on the best vitamins for a hangover.