Using Magnesium Supplements: A Syngap Community Discussion

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Barbara Gaillard is a retired engineering/IT professional and is the grandmother of Syngapian Naya. This article is based on anecdotal information, casually gathered through shared personal experiences in the SYNGAP1 community. Scientific information is alluded to via hyperlinks to other articles, but their accuracy is not guaranteed. Please consult a medical professional before beginning any type of supplement to ensure their safe use within a patient’s existing medication regimen.

Why write an article about magnesium supplements?

Recently a discussion made its way through the Syngap community on social media: Have you used CALM (brand name of a popular magnesium supplement)? What has your experience been? Has it helped with sleep, mood, constipation? Are there worrisome side effects or unexpected outcomes? The discussion prompted this article.

What is magnesium? 

  • Magnesium is a mineral, an essential macronutrient that plays important roles in the body, such as supporting muscle and nerve function and energy production. The multiple benefits of magnesium are outlined in articles like this from Healthline, which tells us it “helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous systems.” An important nutrient for sure.
  • Magnesium is obtained mainly by eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods. Some magnesium-rich foods include nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, dairy products, whole grains, and veggies/ leafy greens. (And dark chocolate!) But if diet alone isn’t providing an adequate amount, some look to supplements.
  • There are at least 11 types of magnesium. Different types regulate different bodily systems and reactions. What stood out for me were the first two items listed in the article: synthesizing protein and nerve function. Both of these areas are directly impacted by the SYNGAP1 gene and the SynGAP protein, primary roots of the symptoms in Syngapian children and adults. 
  • So, one can see how an adequate amount of magnesium is important for someone with SYNGAP1 and why caregivers are talking about magnesium supplements to help with this.

A note on the laxative properties of magnesium

Milk of Magnesia, a common over-the-counter laxative, is a compound of magnesium. Magnesium compounds should be used respecting a specific dosage. This is required for relief of constipation without “cleaning you out pretty radically” (says a Syngap parent). The strength of the laxative property is demonstrated by the use of magnesium citrate to evacuate the contents of the bowel prior to a colonoscopy.

Highlights of the discussion

This is a general description of magnesium and the experiences of SRF parents. I begin with the brand CALM  because it opened the discussion and is being used successfully by a number of parents. CALM is only one choice and this is not an exhaustive study of the available compounds and products, nor does this encompass everything magnesium is credited with. 

What is CALM?

CALM is the brand name of a magnesium supplement sold by the company Natural Vitality. They offer multiple variations of CALM products, mostly flavored drink mixes and gummies. There is a special formulation for children. As the name implies, one of the advertised benefits of the product is to alleviate anxiety and stress: to calm. This is important in aiding a restful sleep. It has been found to be effective by some Syngapian parents. Another commonly discussed benefit has been the laxative effects achieved by CALM and other magnesium compounds. 

SRF Community Discussion

A Facebook thread sprung up on the SRF family support group because a regimen of CALM was recommended by a neurologist for relief of constipation. (Day 1: ¼ tsp first day; Day 2: ¼ tsp am & pm; Day 3: ½ tsp am & pm to start, and then a daily dose on an ongoing basis.) After a couple of days, the child had a bowel movement. But the “really amazing part of all this is that he slept through the night!” 

As the name implies, CALM is used for relaxation and seemed to work well in this case. At the end of a two-week experiment, the parent was “totally amazed and excited to have found CALM to be not only helpful for his digestion when he needed relief, but even better, his rest at night is hardly interrupted. And, seizure activity has decreased tremendously.”

Some of the discussion that followed:

  • Many parents agreed that magnesium, both CALM and other formulations, has been quite useful in relieving constipation. Some have given up other products in exchange for CALM. The gummies have worked well for some, and the liquid has been recommended by others. 
  • There are different CALM products, some for adults and some for kids. Some have melatonin for sleep, others don’t. Always read the labels and suggested dosing per age/population.
  • CALM may or may not be the right magnesium formula for those on a ketogenic diet, as some Syngapians are for seizure control. As with anything on something as specific as keto, please discuss with your healthcare professionals before adding or changing anything.
  • One mom who gives her child ¼ tsp magnesium oxide each morning said it was a “game changer for pooping on the toilet.” (The toilet!)
  • However, another mom found CALM produced foamy looking stools. Eventually it was discovered that her child was magnesium deficient and they began using a liquid ionic magnesium supplement. They have noted good results.
  • Whether the CALM brand is used or another magnesium supplement, the benefits for both sleep and regularity have been experienced by many Syngapians. We hope those in the SRF FaceBook group will continue to share their experiences via the page.

Other over the counter options

Some families who have found Magnesium to be too effective, have seen Aloe Vera Juice being gentler, but still achieving the desired results.

Wrap Up

This information and the SRF comments are not solutions nor recommendations, but points for discussion. For those of you with sleep or constipation issues, this may give you another avenue to explore. Please give your feedback in the various SYNGAP1 social media channels, because we are interested in all the information we can gather. You can follow SRF on all Social Media with the handle @cureSYNGAP1.

A final note is that my adult sister and brother-in-law use CALM. My brother-in-law uses it for the relaxing effect. My sister had extreme hand cramping from gardening. She was pleased that after taking CALM, the pain was relieved almost immediately.