Dear Pharmacist,

Dr. Oz said magnesium was the number one thing for exhaustion. Do you agree? What are the best supplements?

--C.T., Charlotte, North Carolina

Answer: I adore him and know it's impossible to state everything about fatigue in a 20 minute segment, or for that matter, a 500 word column (which is what I'm given) so this week's column isn't about what else you need to know to overcome fatigue.

Magnesium or "mag" as I call it, is definitely needed for energy production, and I've written about the benefits of this mineral in prior columns because deficiency is epidemic. But no, I don't agree it's the "number one" thing you need. Symptoms of mag deficiency include sugar and chocolate cravings (I'm not making this up), cardiac arrhythmias, irritability, panic attacks, anxiety, muscle weakness or spasms, tearfulness, depression, personality changes, constipation, leg cramps and fatigue.

Your body needs mag all day long, some of it's used to fuel biochemical reactions, you urinate some out and require some to make dopamine (a happy brain chemical). Here's what Dr. Oz didn't say on that segment: Magnesium is leached by medications, something I've termed the "drug mugging" effect. Over 200 medications deplete mag, among them antacids, antibiotics, digoxin, heartburn/reflux medications, birth control, methylphenidate, corticosteroids, almost all blood pressure medications and diuretics. See chapter 12 of "Drug Muggers" for more drug names and how to supplement. Surprise, there are other muggers too, including coffee, black and green tea, green coffee bean extract and white refined sugar. Just having Celiac disease, Crohn's, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic diarrhea can reduce magnesium.

Eating nutrient-dense foods is always my first choice to restore minerals, but in this case, eating magnesium-rich foods may not be enough to correct a serious deficiency. The best supplements are "chelated magnesium" or "magnesium glycinate" or my favorite "magnesium taurate." That last one provides your body with both magnesium and taurine, and taurine is imperative for your heart cells! That's a lot of bang for your buck right there. I buy Cardiovascular Research's brand of magnesium taurate at because it's a specialty product, and I can't usually find it at health food stores.

My point is that fatigue is not usually due to low mag. There's more involved, , such as iron deficiency anemia, or poor B vitamin status. You could have mitochondrial dysfunction, meaning your cells have trouble generating energy. That equals fatigue. Mitochondria suffer at the hands of heavy metals like mercury or cadmium (from cigarette smoke). Mitochondria can die from chronic undiagnosed background infections (we all have germs hiding in us). In this case, you might benefit from transfer factor supplements such as "NT Factor Energy." See where I'm going with this yet? It's not all about mag. Your thyroid may be sluggish, so ashwagandha or iodine may help. Adrenal fatigue responds to herbs like ginseng or licorice, or prescribed hydrocortisone. My column "Stressed Out?" can truly help you.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)