Magnesium plays an important role in many body processes, including energy production, muscle function, and heart health; so when a deficiency appears, it can lead to all kinds of problems - including fatigue and muscle cramps.
If you're concerned that your magnesium levels could be low (as they also tend to decline with age), keep reading for the most common signs of a deficiency, and what you can do about it.
Signs & Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Despite the fact that magnesium is a vital nutrient in the body, an estimated 30% of adults aren’t meeting the recommended intake. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, so a deficiency can have a wide range of noticeable effects. If you think you may be deficient, it's important to be informed of the common signs and symptoms.
Muscle Cramps or Tremors
Magnesium plays a key role in muscle contraction. If you find that you are constantly rubbing the tension from your legs or lower back, your magnesium and calcium balance may be off. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and ease muscle tension. When levels are low, muscles can’t properly relax and release themselves, leading to muscle pain and cramps.
Fatigue and Weakness
We all get tired from time to time, but persistent fatigue may mean something more. This is because magnesium plays a key role in energy production for the body. There are 1,000s of mitochondria in each cell that convert the food you consume into usable energy. This energy is stored in ATP, an energy-carrying molecule that requires magnesium to transform into its active form. When magnesium levels fall, so does energy production, leading to feelings of fatigue.
Stress & Magnesium Deficiency
Research has shown that our magnesium stores become depleted when under stress. This can have negative effects in the body and alter the way we react to stressors. If we're not replacing our magnesium, it can cause a vicious cycle where we continue to lose more and more each day, which in turn increases the incidence of stress.
Abnormal Heart Function
Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium are electrolytes that help regulate muscle movements all throughout the body, including your heart. Studies show that when magnesium levels fall severely low, some may experience an irregular and faster than normal heart rate.
High Blood Pressure
When it comes to blood pressure, magnesium is an important player. Magnesium helps relax the arteries and veins, which in turn lowers the resistance to blood flow and helps keep blood pressure regulated. Research shows that diets with adequate magnesium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), a condition associated with many factors.
What Factors Can Cause A Magnesium Deficiency?
A poor diet is one of the most common causes of low magnesium levels. Processed foods contain little nutrient value and not only strip essential minerals from the body, but also impact the body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
Highly-processed diets contain:
High-saturated fatReduces the absorption of magnesium in the intestines.
High sugarIncreases the amount of magnesium excreted by the kidneys.
Soft drinksPhosphates from dark-colored carbonated beverages bind magnesium, making it unusable by the body.
Excessive alcohol useEthanol, the main ingredient in alcohol, works as a diuretic, pulling magnesium and other electrolytes out of the body through the kidneys.
The effects of food processing and farming practices have had a huge impact on the nutrient value of our food. Foods naturally high in magnesium have become increasingly rare in the modern diet. This means that even with a balanced diet, you can experience a deficiency.
Additional factors that can develop into a magnesium deficiency overtime include:
- Excessive sweating
- Kidney conditions
- Long-lasting digestion issues
- Certain medications
- Soft water
- The elderly
- Those with chronic illnesses
- Anyone under increased stress
How Do You Test For Low Magnesium?
Even if you notice symptoms of low magnesium sound familiar, you may not be sure how to identify if you have a deficiency. You can start with this short survey and deficiency risk tool. Take the survey and find out why you should start paying more attention to this core nutrient to stay balanced.
Measuring your nutrient status regularly is the only way to know if your current intake levels are helping. Grassroots Health offers multiple-nutrient test measures and reports on the most common nutrient deficiencies while providing personalized data. Learn more here.
If you think you may be deficient in magnesium, it's important to consult with your doctor. Once a deficiency is diagnosed, there are a few ways to correct it.
What To Do If Magnesium Levels Are Low
To no surprise, one way to begin correcting a magnesium deficiency is through diet. Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, dark leafy greens, fish, nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Legumes, avocados, oatmeal and brown rice are also great options to add.
A balanced diet can be combined with supplementation to help prevent a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids. While there are several forms available, magnesium chloride supplements are among one of the best absorbed forms by the body. Unlike other brands, high-quality magnesium chloride formulas travel directly into the cell, preventing laxative issues. In addition, liquid formulas also make it easier to adjust dosing.
If there was an all-star award, it might go to magnesium.
Magnesium can be considered an unsung hero in the supplement world. This mineral is one of the most important, and it's essential for many key body functions. Many find that once they improve their magnesium intake through a healthy diet and supplementation, they experience better energy levels, mood, and general wellness.