When pigs fly. That’s when you’ll see the FDA recommend use of a dietary supplement to offset health risks created by a drug.
Well…look out above because today’s the day.
Seriously–here’s the actual FDA statement: “Treatment of hypomagnesemia generally requires magnesium supplements.”
Hypomagnesemia is a deficiency of magnesium. That’s serious business because low magnesium contributes to a variety of severe health problems.
But here’s why the FDA recommendation is such a shocker: Millions of people at risk of hypomagnesemia are getting that way by taking one of the most popular drugs on the market.
Starting to get the idea…
The FDA magnesium recommendation appears in a safety announcement released just a few days ago. Agency officials warn that prescription strength proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) may deplete your magnesium levels.
Well over 20 million people in the U.S. alone use PPIs to relieve heartburn and acid reflux. You know this class of dangerous drugs by the familiar brand names: Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, etc.
In most of the cases reviewed by the FDA, magnesium deficiency occurred after one year of starting the drug, but some were deficient within just three months.
And here’s the real kicker to the FDA warning: “In approximately one-quarter of the cases reviewed, magnesium supplementation alone did not improve low serum magnesium levels and the PPI had to be discontinued.” That’s how severe the magnesium deficiency can become.
Unfortunately, patients can’t count on their doctors to stay current with every FDA announcement, so this warning could easily go unheeded–with dire consequences.
Here’s how the FDA tells it: “Low serum magnesium levels can result in serious adverse events including muscle spasm (tetany), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias), and convulsions (seizures).”
Think that sounds bad? That’s just getting started! But still, that’s as far as the official warning goes. The agency doesn’t mention that when your magnesium level is sufficient it helps reduce risk of cognitive decline and plays a key role in DNA production.
And it still gets even worse…
Magnesium is also essential for keeping your blood sugar in check. Last year I told you about nine different diabetes studies, and each one showed a clear link between high magnesium levels and significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Healthy bones rely on magnesium too. So I’m sure it’s no coincidence that last year, the FDA issued a PPI warning about “possible increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine with high doses or long-term use.”
Gee, FDA…are you starting to get the idea that this drug is maybe not good for people to take every day?
Of course, if you suffer from regular heartburn or acid reflux, you’re looking for immediate relief and hoping it won’t come back to haunt you. Now you don’t have to choose. You can find details about a safe, effective, and inexpensive alternative treatment here.
“FDA Drug Safety Communication: Low magnesium levels can be associated with long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs (PPIs)” FDA Safety Announcement, 3/2/11, fda.gov