Signs of Magnesium Deficiency in the Body
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for a healthy body. Every single cell in our body needs it, making a deficiency potentially devistating to ones health.
Unfortunately, a magnesium deficiency is difficult to test for as blood levels only reflect a small amount of total body magnesium. Blood levels may appear to be completely normal, despite extreme deficiencies at the cellular level.
A leading driver of deficiency may be stress, as our bodies use up magnesium in stressful times to help our bodies cope. Lower levels of magnesium tend to make stressful situations harder to deal with, creating a difficult stressful cycle.
There are several well-documented symptoms that are related to a lack of magnesium in the body which include:
Muscle cramps are perhaps the most well-known symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Despite some studies showing that increasing magnesium levels has little or no effect due to the cramps being caused by things such as stress or high levels of caffeine there is, however a strong case for magnesium deficiency. Research has shown that in people who get cramps from a lack of magnesium have an increased flow of calcium to the nerves in the body. The increased levels of calcium cause the nerves to overexcite and thus twitches and cramps occur.
Because Magnesium is such a vital mineral for the growth and sustained strength and health of bones in the body, a magnesium deficiency is a contributory factor in Osteoporosis. Magnesium deficiency can weaken bones and reduce the levels of calcium needed for bones to thrive.
Early studies are beginning to show a link between certain mental conditions such as apathy and increased levels of anxiety however the evidence is still very much lacking in this area. It is known, however, that Magnesium is required for parts of the nervous system to function fully.
High Blood Pressure
Recent studies into magnesium deficiency are providing a link between it and high blood pressure. Controlled tests, mainly on rats, have shown that a lack of magnesium does reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common stress related problem in the world today and a balanced diet, with good levels of magnesium, is a well known way to combat stress.
Tiredness and fatigue
While tiredness and fatigue affect us all and there is no one reason for it, magnesium deficiency can be a reason for sustained tiredness. Too little potassium in the blood cells, often caused by a lack of magnesium is a well-documented symptom. However, if there if suffering from sustained tiredness Magnesium may not be the issue and medical advice is recommended.
Irregular Heart Beat
Magnesium is well-known to support healthy heart muscles and magnesium deficiency can cause an imbalance of potassium in the heart muscles. This imbalance can lead to an irregular heart beat or light headedness in some people. In people with known heart issues this can be cause for concern but in most people is almost unnoticed.
Asthmatic people have often been noted to have low levels of magnesium. Some research has shown that low levels of magnesium cause a calcium build up in the lung muscles causing airways to contract and make breathing a challenge. Asthma medication with magnesium is often used to relax the lung muscles to open up the airways. However, research into the effects of magnesium and magnesium deficiency in asthma sufferers is inconclusive.
The World Health Organisation have published reports that estimate around 75% of Americans do not meet the minimum recommended daily intake of magnesium which sits at 320-420mg per day. However, according to experts this currently recommended daily intake is inadequate to prevent magnesium deficiency and is nowhere near the optimal daily intake which sits around 500mg for females and 750mg for males on average. This realisation would push true deficiency rates in the US towards 90%.
In the year 1900 the average magnesium intake was 500mg per day and now it is around 200mg per day. This huge reduction in magnesium levels is largely due to the modern day diet of processed foods, the slow depletion of minerals from soil, and the stressful lives we live.
If you want to see how much magnesium you should be getting check out our magnesium calculator.
For more everything you need to know about magnesium and magnesium supplements, check out our comprehensive information page here.
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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM
Dr Ron Goedeke, specialises in alternative and functional medicine. He is a foundation member of the New Zealand college of Appearance medicine and has been a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine since 1999. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.