You need magnesium to survive. Without it, the body won’t be able to function properly. Over 300 cellular reactions depend on this mineral, proving how vital it is. Therefore, knowing how to recognize and treat magnesium deficiency is key.
Magnesium is needed for processes like energy production, DNA synthesis, nerve function, and blood glucose control. Even normal heart rhythm depends on magnesium. As you can see, it’s one important nutrient.1
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency is uncommon, as the kidneys prevent urinary excretion. However, even then, a low intake can cause problems. Some medications may also lower magnesium levels.
Gastrointestinal diseases, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, interfere with magnesium absorption. Meanwhile, alcoholics and older adults tend to get very little magnesium. In the case of alcoholism, kidney problems may also lead to increased excretion. The same goes for type 2 diabetes.2
Early Signs Of Magnesium Deficiency
Feeling nauseous is an early sign of magnesium deficiency. It might get so bad that it causes vomiting. But since it’s a general symptom, nausea may be mixed up with other conditions.3
Fatigue and weakness are common. But like nausea, they are easy to brush off. Exhaustion might come and go.4
3. Numbness And Tingling
As deficiency progresses, it causes nerve issues. Remember, magnesium is needed for nerve function. When there’s not enough magnesium, neurotransmitters aren’t properly released, causing numbness and tingling.5
4. Muscle Cramps
The effect on nerves may also lead to muscle cramps. This can be really uncomfortable, as it happens unexpectedly. Muscle contractions might also crop up.6
5. Behavior Changes
Low magnesium levels can cause excessive electrical brain activity. This translates into sudden behavior and personality changes. They come out of the blue, so it can be stressful to deal with.7
6. Abnormal Heart Beat
Magnesium is needed for a steady, constant heartbeat. If deficiency worsens, abnormal heart rhythm is likely.8 It can feel scary if you don’t know what’s up.
Long-Term Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. It is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths, killing more men than women.9 High blood pressure is a major factor, but a few studies have found that magnesium slightly lowers it.
A 2017 Japanese study in the journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at this link. High magnesium intake lowered the risk of heart disease, thus suggesting that deficiency increases the risk.10
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones. In the United States, it affects about 10.2 million older adults. The risk increases with age and is more common in women. However, bone loss can be slowed down through exercise and diet.11
Don’t just focus on calcium though. You also need magnesium! In fact, about 60 percent of your body’s stores is in the bone. Magnesium is needed by both osteoblasts and osteoclasts, which are cells that repair bones.12
3. Type 2 Diabetes
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, magnesium is a hot topic. Low intakes may worsen insulin resistance, increasing the risk for diabetes.13 The disease, which affects about 29 million Americans, is the seventh leading cause of death.14
It’s important to note that low magnesium can also be caused by type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance increases urinary loss, leading to magnesium excretion.15
For some, magnesium deficiency causes migraines, a painful headache disorder. This stems from magnesium’s role on nerve function. Without enough, neurotransmitters aren’t properly released. Platelets can also build up, a process that’s linked to migraines.16
Over 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraines, and every 3 out 4 people are women.17 But before magnesium can be used for prevention, more research is needed.
Food Sources Of Magnesium
If you suffer from magnesium deficiency or would like to prevent the possibility of it, here are a few all natural sources of magnesium: almonds, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter, spinach, edamame, soy milk, avocado, brown rice, banana, black beans, salmon, raisins, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Magnesium deficiency is rare but still a possibility. If you have any of the above symptoms, it might be a good idea to get a blood test done. By increasing your consumption of magnesium-rich foods, or taking doctor-approved supplements, you can prevent the deficiency.
|↑1||Magnesium. US Department Of Health And Human Services|
|↑2||Barbagallo, Mario, and Ligia J. Dominguez. “Magnesium and type 2 diabetes.” World journal of diabetes 6, no. 10 (2015): 1152.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑5, ↑6, ↑7, ↑8||Jahnen-Dechent, Wilhelm, and Markus Ketteler. “Magnesium basics.” Clinical kidney journal 5, no. Suppl_1 (2012): i3-i14.|
|↑9||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑10||Kokubo, Yoshihiro, Isao Saito, Hiroyasu Iso, Kazumasa Yamagishi, Hiroshi Yatsuya, Junko Ishihara, Koutatsu Maruyama et al. “Dietary magnesium intake and risk of incident coronary heart disease in men: A prospective cohort study.” Clinical Nutrition (2017).|
|↑11||Wright, Nicole C., Anne C. Looker, Kenneth G. Saag, Jeffrey R. Curtis, Elizabeth S. Delzell, Susan Randall, and Bess Dawson‐Hughes. “The recent prevalence of osteoporosis and low bone mass in the United States based on bone mineral density at the femoral neck or lumbar spine.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 29, no. 11 (2014): 2520-2526.|
|↑12||Castiglioni, Sara, Alessandra Cazzaniga, Walter Albisetti, and Jeanette AM Maier. “Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions.” Nutrients 5, no. 8 (2013): 3022-3033.|
|↑13, ↑15||Magnesium. US Department Of Health And Human Services.|
|↑14||Statistics About Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑16||Sun-Edelstein, Christina, and Alexander Mauskop. “Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine.” Expert review of neurotherapeutics 9, no. 3 (2009): 369-379.|
|↑17||Migraine. WomensHealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health.|