Magnesium Deficiency: 7 Signs & Symptoms
You might not think that you need to worry about magnesium. After all, it’s a mineral that’s found in abundance in the world and your body only needs a small amount of it to function properly.
However, magnesium is actually quite important for your health and a deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms.
According to one estimate, nearly 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium and sadly, this health concern is steadily on the rise.
Might you also be one of those rising statistics? How would you know if you aren’t sure what you should be looking for?
Keep reading so you know just what are the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency and whether or not you should be considering magnesium supplements.
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies require for many different functions. Magnesium is involved in energy production, maintains healthy bones and teeth, and supports the proper functioning of nerves and muscles.
Are you aware that the body needs magnesium to regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease Perhaps you’re wondering why magnesium deficiency is on the rise?
The reality is, our lifestyle can be one of the biggest challenges for keeping our magnesium levels balanced.
Poor diets, stress, and excessive alcohol are three of the main reasons for the rising cases of magnesium deficiency.
People with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease or gastrointestinal problems, and on certain medications may also be at risk for magnesium deficiency.
Older adults are often magnesium-deficient because they are not able to absorb the mineral as well as younger people.
Taking magnesium supplements can help prevent magnesium levels from dropping so low, not only preventing magnesium deficiency but also improving overall health.
What is Magnesium Deficiency?
When magnesium levels become so low that our body no longer has enough of this vital mineral for the many roles it plays in biochemical reactions of the body, it is called magnesium deficiency (or hypomagnesemia).
When the body has a low amount of magnesium, our bodies experience many physical and psychological symptoms.
If you think that you might be suffering from magnesium deficiency, then it’s important to keep an eye out for the main symptoms.
Did you know that certain medical conditions can increase the risk of becoming deficient in magnesium? Take Celiac Disease, for example. Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions, including gut health.
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people with celiac disease were more likely to be deficient in magnesium than people without the condition.
It’s not clear why this is the case, but it’s possible that the damage to the small intestine caused by celiac disease interferes with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
Additionally, people with celiac disease may be more likely to have other health conditions that can lead to magnesium deficiency.
For example, those with celiac disease are at increased risk for intestinal infections, which can deplete magnesium stores.
You should also be aware that taking a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) for heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion can lead to magnesium deficiency? When you take a PPI, it reduces the amount of acid in your stomach.
This might sound like a good thing, but acid is actually important for helping your body absorb magnesium.
So, if you’re taking a proton pump inhibitor regularly, you might not be getting enough magnesium. Be sure to talk with your doctor, as there are ways to get the same benefits from the medication without causing a deficiency.
7 Signs and Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
The trouble with diagnosing magnesium deficiency is that it’s not always so clear-cut. Some of the main signs that could lead to a diagnosis of low magnesium, could also be results of other health factors or concerns.
Knowing what symptoms to look for may help you direct a conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider whether a blood test for your magnesium levels should be considered.
1. Muscle Twitches and Cramps
When you think of magnesium, you might not immediately think of muscle twitches or cramps. But it turns out that this mineral plays an important role in muscle function.
Magnesium helps to regulate calcium levels in the body, and it is also involved in nerve signaling. When levels of magnesium are insufficient, it can lead to muscle twitches, muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms. In severe cases, magnesium deficiency symptoms can even lead to paralysis.
Fortunately, symptoms can be alleviated by increasing magnesium intake through diet or supplements. So, if you’ve been dealing with muscle twitches or cramps, it might be worth looking into whether magnesium could be the culprit.
2. Mental Health Conditions
Recent studies have proven that mental health conditions may be connected to magnesium levels and very much a symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium plays a vital role in brain function and mood regulation. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to a decrease in serotonin levels, which can lead to feelings of depression.
It’s also involved in the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate anxiety. Therefore, it’s not surprising that low levels of magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of mental health conditions.
There are a few reasons why osteoporosis is thought to be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. For one, magnesium is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which is necessary for strong bones.
Magnesium deficiency disrupts the balance of these minerals in the body, leading to decreased bone density and increased risk of fractures. Studies have shown that severe magnesium deficiency can lead to marked skeletal deformities.
Additionally, magnesium helps to maintain normal levels of vitamin D in the body, which is also critical for bone health.
Finally, magnesium plays a role in regulating hormones and a lack of magnesium can lead to imbalances that can contribute to osteoporosis.
4. Fatigue and Muscle Weakness
Did you know that fatigue and muscle weakness are often thought to be caused by magnesium deficiency? Magnesium helps to regulate many important functions.
Unfortunately, magnesium levels can drop due to a variety of factors, including stress, poor diet, and certain medications.
When this happens, it can result in a host of symptoms, including fatigue and muscle weakness. Since magnesium plays a role in energy production, a deficiency can lead to fatigue.
Magnesium is needed for proper muscle function, so a deficiency can lead to weakness. There are simple blood tests that can verify your magnesium levels and let you know whether or not magnesium supplements could combat these symptoms.
5. High Blood Pressure
If you’ve ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may have been prescribed medication to help lower your numbers. But did you know that high blood pressure can actually be a symptom of magnesium deficiency?
Magnesium is needed to help regulate blood pressure, and when levels are low, it can lead to hypertension.
You might not think that these two things, asthma and magnesium deficiency, are related, but magnesium is actually essential for keeping the airways open.
When levels drop off, the muscles surrounding the airways can constrict, making it difficult to breathe, causing chest tightness and wheezing.
Magnesium is also needed for proper immune function, and some studies suggest that asthmatics are more likely to have lower levels of magnesium.
Studies are proving that magnesium is needed to protect the lungs from pollution and other irritants, so magnesium deficiency may in fact increase the risk of asthma.
7. Irregular Heartbeat
Magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart. A lack of this vital mineral can lead to arrhythmia.
Have you ever been lying in bed, minding your own business, when suddenly your heart starts racing? Or you’re out for a run and your heart feels like it’s about to beat out of your chest? While these feelings can be alarming, they may not be a result of heart health.
Sometimes, an irregular heartbeat is simply a sign that you’re magnesium deficient. Because magnesium is involved in energy production, muscle contraction and nerve functions, it shouldn’t be surprising that a deficiency can lead to an irregular heartbeat.
That being said, never take chances with your heart. Always be sure to have any symptom concerning your heart checked out immediately. Heart issues can be life-threatening.
How is Magnesium Deficiency Treated?
Believe it or not, magnesium is actually the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. Magnesium deficiency has become surprisingly common, affecting an estimated one in three adults.
If you suspect that you may be deficient in magnesium, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to get a diagnosis.
Once magnesium deficiency has been confirmed, treatment typically involves increasing magnesium intake through diet and supplements.
Luckily, magnesium deficiency is easily treated with supplements. Magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride are both commonly used to replenish magnesium levels and these supplements are readily available and easy to acquire. Many multivitamins also contain magnesium.
For mild deficiencies, this may be all that is necessary. For more severe cases, IV magnesium therapy or intramuscular injections may be needed. With treatment, most people are able to increase their magnesium levels and improve their overall health.
Magnesium supplements are a convenient way to boost magnesium levels and ensure that you have enough of this essential nutrient.
There are many forms of magnesium supplements available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most popular forms are magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate.
Magnesium oxide is the most concentrated form of magnesium, but it’s also the least bioavailable, meaning your body can’t absorb and use it as effectively.
Magnesium citrate is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide, but it’s also more expensive. Other forms of magnesium include magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and magnesium gluconate.
Ultimately, the best form of magnesium supplement for you depends on your specific needs and preferences.
So if you think you might be deficient in this important nutrient, there’s no need to worry—just talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to get your levels back up to where they should be.
How Do You Prevent Magnesium Deficiency?
Now that you have a better understanding of magnesium and the concerns that low magnesium levels can lead to, you are probably wondering what is the best way to prevent a deficiency of this indispensable and much needed mineral?
Thankfully, it’s easy to prevent magnesium deficiency, beginning with a few simple lifestyle changes.
Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, cutting back on alcohol consumption and reducing stress are all excellent ways to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium.
The next course of action would be to ensure your diet includes magnesium-rich foods and begin supplementation with a high-quality magnesium supplement.
When it comes to magnesium rich foods, it’s important to do your homework. Not all food sources are grown in healthy conditions.
Experts believe that one of the reasons for the rise in magnesium deficiency could be depleted soils.
Not all farmers take the time to replenish the soil of the nutrients taken out by the growing produce. Know where your food is coming from.
What are magnesium-rich foods? Foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans are considered magnesium-rich.
Another line of defense would be to take a daily vitamin D supplement, as vitamin D helps the body’s magnesium absorption.
Last but not least, reduce your intake of processed foods and refined sugars, as these can deplete the body’s stores of magnesium.
By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your body gets enough magnesium to function optimally and prevent becoming deficient of this mighty mineral.
The Bottom Line
This article has given you a lot of information to consider when it comes to magnesium and magnesium supplementation.
The importance of this mineral to our overall health makes it worth asking your healthcare provider for a blood test to determine your magnesium status.
Be sure to understand what are the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency and reasons why you might in fact be low or deficient in magnesium. Consider your lifestyle, your stress levels and your diet.
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