Magnesium may very well be the most important mineral in our body, yet a surprising number of people don’t get enough. And because deficiency causes symptoms that look like other issues, this condition is often overlooked. Read on to learn the signs of magnesium deficiency and how to fix it.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral found all over the body. We need it for lots of different things, like assisting with vital muscle and nerve functions. Magnesium is also found in our bones, and it’s critical for keeping them strong and dense. Additionally, we need this mineral to maintain a healthy heart and immune system.
In other words, we need magnesium for our body to function correctly. It’s a key player in over 300 enzyme reactions, so you could say that magnesium’s health benefits are many. And when we have too little of it, the effects can be quite harmful.
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
Here are some reasons that otherwise healthy adults may suffer from magnesium deficiency.
The most common way that people become deficient is because of inadequate dietary intake. Most of the magnesium we get comes from food, and eating a varied diet is the best way to get enough of this mineral.
But more and more people are eating increasing amounts of processed food, which causes them to get less of this mineral than they need.
Certain medical conditions affect the body’s ability to absorb magnesium. The most common ones are type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease.
Some medications deplete magnesium stores. Antacids, antibiotics, birth control pills, and blood pressure medications are a few that can have this effect.
Excessive alcohol consumption drains the body’s mineral stores, magnesium in particular.
Magnesium deficiency is more likely in older adults, who typically need a bit more of this mineral to stay healthy.
How Much Magnesium Do Adults Need?
To avoid the many health complications that come with magnesium deficiency, it’s vital to meet your daily-recommended levels. The amount of magnesium adults need depends on age and gender.
Men need around 400-420 mg daily, while women should aim for about 310-320 mg. Eating magnesium-rich foods or taking magnesium supplements, such as Magnesium Ultra, are the best ways to make sure you’re getting enough.
Some Common Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Because magnesium is involved in so many seemingly unrelated functions in your body, it’s often challenging to diagnose. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency tend to trick doctors because they look like other conditions. And to make matters worse, individuals that appear healthy often don’t have symptoms until their levels are very low.
Diagnosing magnesium deficiency on any one symptom alone is almost impossible. However, if you’re experiencing several of them, your magnesium intake is likely too low.
Fatigue and Muscle Weakness
Fatigue (along with loss of appetite) is one of the first signs of magnesium deficiency. To be clear, we’re talking about more than just feeling tired every now and then, which is normal. We’re talking about a lack of energy that persists.
Because fatigue is non-specific, a doctor can’t diagnose you based on this symptom alone. But if it’s accompanied by muscle weakness, this is a clearer indicator. Muscle weakness may be caused by low potassium levels in cells, which is an issue associated with magnesium deficiency.
Depression and Anxiety
More research is needed in this area, but early studies show that low levels of magnesium may increase the risk of depression. There’s also some speculation that the condition encourages anxiety, though there’s no conclusive evidence so far.
The reason magnesium deficiency may play a role here is that certain neurotransmitters need magnesium to work correctly. And when there’s an imbalance, it affects our emotional state.
High Blood Pressure
Magnesium appears to lower blood pressure. A lack of this mineral may lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.
If you’re experiencing more headaches or migraines than usual, low magnesium levels might be to blame. According to the American Migraine Foundation, having less magnesium in the body affects the neurotransmitters that control or block pain.
Additionally, some studies indicate that magnesium supplements can help prevent and treat migraines. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a magnesium regimen for this purpose.
Things like muscle spasms and muscle contractions may point to magnesium deficiency. The reason may be because nerve cells are receiving too much calcium, which causes overstimulation—especially in the legs or feet.
A lack of magnesium is also associated with sleep issues such as insomnia and restless sleep. Magnesium is thought to support deep, restorative sleep. So if you’re having more trouble than usual sleeping, coupled with other symptoms on this list, magnesium deficiency might be the culprit.
Lastly, magnesium supports proper muscle functioning in the colon wall, which is vital for regular bowel movements.
Testing for Magnesium Deficiency
What should you do if you’re experiencing these symptoms? First, remember that true deficiency is rare. What’s more common is having low levels without realizing it.
But if you suspect you need more of this nutrient, the best thing to do is speak with your healthcare professional. Your doctor may order a blood test, known as a serum magnesium test, to check your levels. This is also something they may order if they suspect your calcium and potassium levels are low.
In most cases, getting enough of this nutrient is as simple as eating whole, nutritious foods and supplementing when your diet falls short. Are you taking a magnesium supplement now? We’d love to hear about your experience with it in the comments below.
Even though we should try to get as much magnesium as possible through foods, sometimes our diet falls short. A supplement, like Magnesium Ultra, is a great way to support our magnesium needs.