Are you getting enough elemental Magnesium? While it may seem tricky to know whether you’re deficient in the mineral, it’s actually quite common; more than 50% of the U.S. is deficient! Soil depletion of modern food crops and the consumption of processed foods and demineralized water has made it difficult for many to get the recommended Magnesium intake.
This essential mineral and electrolyte plays a crucial role in hundreds of bodily functions, from muscle and nerve function to energy production to bone health. If you’re curious whether a trip to get bloodwork is in order, here are 11 warning signs of Magnesium deficiency to look out for.
Risk Factors for Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency can be influenced by a number of factors, including a diet that’s lacking, chronic stress, gastro disorders, alcohol consumption, certain medications, and life changes like aging, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
A diet low in foods that offer this mineral, like spinach, nuts, seeds, legumes, avocados, bananas, broccoli, and whole grains, is the most common cause of Magnesium deficiency, so it’s vital that you consume plenty of whole, plant-based foods throughout the day.
But even if you eat a plant-rich diet, it’s still hard to get all of your essential nutrients through food alone. Fruits, veggies, and grains contain fewer nutrients than they did 70 years ago—like Zinc, Vitamin C, and B2.
Modern agricultural practices deplete the soil and disturb the delicate relationship between crops and soil fungi, causing plants—and us—to absorb fewer nutrients.
Gastrointestinal disorders like celiac or inflammatory bowel disease can cause malabsorption in your digestive tract. Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with your dietary Magnesium absorption because it causes you to pee out the metal, as can other diuretics. Taking meds like antibiotics or cortisone can further put you at risk of becoming depleted.
As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing and retaining Magnesium. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding have higher dietary Magnesium requirements, and chronic stress is highly associated with lower Magnesium levels in your body.
11 Signs & Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
As you’ll see, some of this goes both ways, creating a loop. For instance, gastrointestinal conditions could put you at greater risk of lower Magnesium levels, while lower Magnesium levels could also cause you stomach issues like constipation. Chronic stress is the same: high levels of ongoing stress can increase Magnesium loss in your body, while low Magnesium levels can in turn make you more susceptible to stress, and the two conditions share many overlapping symptoms. We call these the stress-Magnesium loop and the constipation-Magnesium loop.
Whether you have these risk factors or are just unsure whether your diet is truly giving you adequate levels of Magnesium, here are several warning signs of Magnesium deficiency.
1. Muscle cramps and tension
One of the most common symptoms of Magnesium deficiency is muscle cramps and tension. Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle function, and a lack of this mineral can cause muscles to contract and spasm, leading to painful cramps.
Magnesium levels actually fluctuate throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle and drop during the luteal phase (when PMS kicks in). Taking Magnesium regularly could help soothe specific PMS symptoms like bloating, cramping, tenderness, and moodiness.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia, since Magnesium is involved in the body’s sleep-wake cycle and stress response. Low levels can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to sleep, and this can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. If you’re noticing this sign, you might want to consider taking Magnesium for sleep. Because Magnesium is used for relaxation, it can be a great supplement to take before your bedtime routine.
Magnesium deficiency can cause digestive issues such as constipation, as Magnesium helps relax muscles in your stomach and intestines and can aid in bowel movement through the digestive tract. Magnesium is often used as an osmotic laxative to support regularity. But by the same token, excessive Magnesium intake could cause diarrhea, so make sure you’re taking the recommended dosage.
5. Low mood
Magnesium plays a critical role in regulating your nervous system, and a dearth can cause symptoms of stress and low mood. However, many people don't realize that magnesium also provides numerous Magnesium brain benefits. Studies have shown that Magnesium supplementation can improve mood in people who have low Magnesium levels.
6. Decreased bone density
Magnesium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, helping regulate the absorption and metabolism of Calcium, a key mineral for bone formation. Magnesium facilitates the conversion of Vitamin D into its active form. And when Vitamin D is active, Calcium can be absorbed into the body.
A Magnesium deficiency can lead to decreased bone density, which makes bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures.
7. Headaches and migraines
Magnesium plays a role in the regulation of blood vessel function and neurotransmitter release in the brain. For this reason, you might notice more headaches and migraines if you’ve got a deficiency.
8. Brain fog
Some mental issues that might arise as a result of a Magnesium deficiency include memory loss and difficulty concentrating. That’s because Magnesium is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain, and a lack of the mineral can disrupt these processes.
9. High blood pressure
Magnesium is involved in the balance of your blood pressure, so if you’re not getting enough, you might experience high blood pressure levels. Essentially, Magnesium helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, reducing the workload on your heart.
Low Magnesium levels can be an energy suck, causing fatigue and generally low energy. Magnesium is involved in the production of ATP, or your cellular currency of energy, so it’s pretty important for powering through your day.
11. Blood sugar imbalance
Magnesium plays a vital role in insulin secretion and blood glucose metabolism, so if you’re low, this could cause blood sugar issues like insulin resistance and high blood sugar spikes. Studies have shown that Magnesium supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in people with low Magnesium levels.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with your holistic healthcare provider to see if you could be deficient. They might recommend a blood test that could help clarify any micronutrient issues you might be having.
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Common Health Conditions Associated With Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is associated with a variety of health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic migraines, and anxiety or depression. In addition, Magnesium plays a critical role in your muscle and nerve function, so a deficiency could lead to muscle weakness, tremors, and even seizures. Luckily though, you can be preventative in ways like eating a healthy diet and taking a bioavailable oral supplement.
How to Test for Magnesium Deficiency
You could have Magnesium deficiency and not show any symptoms, so don’t skip your yearly bloodwork and other tests. A simple blood test can determine your micronutrient levels and indicate to your doctor if you have Hypomagnesemia, or low levels of Magnesium in your blood. However, it’s important to know that your charts don’t always show the whole picture. Only a small fraction of Magnesium in the body is present in the blood. For that reason, other tests like an intracellular Magnesium test might be a better bet for accuracy if you’re showing symptoms.
Additionally, your doctor might ask about your symptoms and medical history to help diagnose you properly, so let them know if you have any of those risk factors and warning signs we talked about earlier.
How to Increase Magnesium Intake
Most people aren’t getting enough Magnesium in their diets, so it’s important to supplement if you’re showing signs of low Magnesium. But not only is Magnesium sold by many different brands on the market, it also comes in a variety of forms, some of which aren’t bioavailable, meaning they can’t be easily assimilated by the body.
Look for chelated forms of Magnesium to get maximum Magnesium absorption and potency. Moon Juice’s Magnesi-Om®, for instance, is a Magnesium powder supplement with 3 bioavailable forms of Magnesium plus L-Theanine to help restore cellular balance for relaxation, sleep, brain health, and regularity.*
Chelated Magnesium Gluconate and Acetyl taurine help support muscle relaxation and cognitive function, while Magnesium Citrate helps support regular bowel movements.*
This natural Magnesium supplement instantly dissolves in water, tastes like berries, and is sugar-free. Take 1 teaspoon nightly for a 310-milligram dose.
In addition to Magnesium supplements, there are many Magnesium-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet to help maintain an even keel. Look for those dark, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains as some of the best dietary sources.
It’s also important to note that excessive Magnesium intake can be harmful, causing symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Again, always follow the recommended dosage on your Magnesium supplement bottle.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to a range of problems if left untreated. The warning signs are numerous and can often be mistaken for other conditions. Some of the most common symptoms include muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, and low mood.
If you suspect that you have low levels of Magnesium are low, reach out to a health professional to help you determine whether your Magnesium is at level.
The good news is, there are easy ways to increase your intake if you’re experiencing Magnesium deficiency signs, including dietary changes and supplements. Ultimately, taking care of your Magnesium levels is an indispensable part of maintaining good health. By paying attention to the warning signs of Magnesium deficiency and taking steps to meet the recommended dosage, you can proactively protect yourself from a range of imbalances and support your mental and physical well-being.
- Rivlin RS. Magnesium deficiency and alcohol intake: mechanisms, clinical significance and possible relation to cancer development (a review). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7836619/#:~:text=First%2C%20alcohol%20acts%20acutely%20as,stores%20of%20Mg%20become%20depleted.
- Cleveland Clinic, Hypomagnesemia https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23264-hypomagnesemia#:~:text=Deficiencies%20due%20to%20poor%20absorption,disease%20and%20inflammatory%20bowel%20disease.
- Cleveland Clinic, Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency https://health.clevelandclinic.org/feeling-fatigued-could-it-be-magnesium-deficiency-and-if-so-what-to-do-about-it/
- Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, Bienkowski P, Yaltsewa N, Amessou M, Noah L, Pouteau https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7761127/
- E. Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7761127/