Antacid causes magnesium deficiency: Tip of the Iceberg?

Millions of people use antacids daily. Some patients do develop a serious hypomagnesaemia resulting in muscle cramps, diabetes and even cardiovascular diseases. Anke Lameris, PhD investigated the molecular mechanism responsible for the side effect of drugs like omeprazole. She successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled "Divalent Digestion: Insight in Intestinal Iontransport" on Feb 4th 2014 at the Radboud University, in the Netherlands. Lameris investigated the molecular mechanism underlying this deficit and came up with a possible solution to the problem. Magnesium is essential for our body. It plays a role in the contraction of muscles, heart rhythm, the nervous system, glucose balance and allows for strong bones and teeth.

Cause found

The antacid omeprazole has been available for several years ‘over the counter’. In the U.S., it is in the top ten most commonly used medications. But every year some users end up in the hospital with cardiac arrhythmias and muscle spasms caused by magnesium deficiency. Lameris researched this and claims that omeprazole inhibits the transport of magnesium through the so called ion channel TRPM6. Lameris presumes that there’s also a genetic component involved.

Severe deficiency

Currently it is academically proved that a hundred patients have severe magnesium deficiency caused by omeprazole. However, this research has only started recently and given the huge number of users worldwide, this might be the tip of the iceberg. Magnesium deficiency should be detected in its early stages, because a magnesium deficiency plays an important role in the development of disorders such as diabetes and cardio vascular diseases.


Omeprazole belongs to the family of medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPI), that slow or prevent the production of acid within the stomach.

It is used for instance to heal gastric and duodenal ulcers. In addition, it is widely used to prevent and treat ulcers, heartburn, and gastroesophageal reflux disease associated with medications known as NSAIDs. The most prominent members in this group of drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, which are all available over the counter in most countries.


The results of Laméris’ research can help to develop new treatments for patients with impaired magnesium metabolism caused by omeprazole. Currently, researchers of the Radboud University are testing a group of patients on a dietary supplement.


Magnesium Health Institute comments: Many other medicines cause magnesium deficiency.