It’s not uncommon to have a magnesium deficiency. In fact, it’s far more widespread than you might think. This blog is here to let you know what signs to look out for so you’re aware if you have a magnesium deficiency, but first, to answer a question that might be on your mind…
Why is magnesium deficiency a widespread occurrence?
- Depleted soil conditions mean that plants (and animals that are fed from those plants) are lower in magnesium.
- The use of chemicals, such as fluoride and chlorine, bind to magnesium, making the water supply low in the mineral, as well.
- Common substances — such as sugar and caffeine — deplete the body’s magnesium levels.
- Stress also taxes the endocrine system, depleting levels of magnesium
How do you know if you’re magnesium deficient?
- You’re addicted to sugar
- You take calcium supplements
- Often, you drink soda and other sugar-filled drinks
- You suspect or have been diagnosed with celiac disease or other digestive disorders (like Crohn’s disease)
- You consume a lot of processed food and conventional dairy
- At home, you have a water softener or drink city water
- You have Type 2 diabetes
- Most of the time, you avoid green vegetables, leafy greens, and raw, unprocessed nuts and seeds
- You are an older adult or take prescription medications
- You eat food grown in depleted soils (the majority of the population)
Signs and symptoms
Here are some of the most common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:
Calcification of the arteries
Unfortunately, this is one of the first symptoms to appear from a magnesium deficiency, as well as one of the most serious. Calcification of the arteries can occur from low magnesium levels. As a result, one’s preposition to develop coronary problems, like heart attacks, heart failure, and heart disease, is increased.
Magnesium’s ability to prevent over-calcification is one reason why the Framingham Health Study found that consuming enough magnesium lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. Believe it or not, half of all heart attack patients received injections of magnesium chloride to help stop the blood clotting and calcification.
Muscle Spasming & Cramping
This is one of the most notable symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. Just as calcification can cause stiffening of the arteries, it can cause stiffening of muscle tissue, as well. This can result in awful cramps and spasms. Fortunately, consuming enough magnesium (or supplementing the nutrient) can reduce the incidence of this symptom.
Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression affect millions of people. Could something as simple as magnesium help to reduce the blues? Research suggests “yes.” Psychology Today explains one possible reason:
“Magnesium hangs out in the synapse between two neurons along with calcium and glutamate. If you recall, calcium and glutamate are excitatory, and in excess, toxic (link is external). They activate the NMDA receptor. Magnesium can sit on the NMDA receptor without activating it, like a guard at the gate. Therefore, if we are deficient in magnesium, there’s no guard. Calcium and glutamate can activate the receptor like there is no tomorrow. In the long term, this damages the neurons, eventually leading to cell death. In the brain, that is not an easy situation to reverse or remedy.”
If you experience crazy “ups” and “downs” before or after your period, it’s likely your body is deficient in magnesium. The higher the estrogen or progesterone levels in a woman’s body, the lower the magnesium. This is also why pregnant women experience more leg cramps.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the book The Magnesium Miracle, muscle cramps related to the menstrual cycle can also be related to magnesium levels. She recommends women with bad PMS and cramps take magnesium early in their cycles before the symptoms begin.
High Blood Pressure / Hypertension
A Harvard study with over 70,000 people found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the healthiest blood pressure numbers. A follow-up meta-analysis of available studies showed a dose-dependent reduction of blood pressure with magnesium supplementation.
That’s not all — a University of Minnesota study found that the risk for hypertension was 70 percent lower in women with adequate/high magnesium levels.
Similar to hormone problems, low magnesium levels can adversely affect pregnancy health and mood. Some women report less morning sickness during pregnancy when supplementing with transdermal magnesium.
Magnesium can also reduce hypertension and muscle cramps during pregnancy. Supplementation can also help to ward off preterm labor and alleviate headaches.
You may remember from biology class that magnesium is required in the reactions that create ATP energy in cells. As Wellness Mama summarizes, ATP or adenosine triphosphate is the main source of energy in the cells. To be active, it must bind to a magnesium ion.
In other words, without magnesium, you literally won’t have energy on a cellular level. This can show up as fatigue, low energy, lack of drive, and other problems.
Vitamin D Absorption
Magnesium is essential for vitamin D to turn on calcium absorption. That’s why magnesium supplementation may be necessary when taking vitamin D (or else levels may become even more depleted).
Proper Calcium Use
Magnesium is required to stimulate the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the muscles and tissues and into the bones. This helps explain why magnesium helps lower the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, kidney stones, and heart attack.
Melatonin, chamomile, and lavender are all helpful aids to snooze peacefully. However, magnesium is the ultimate relaxation mineral, as Dr. Mark Hyman says. Magnesium helps to relax the body and the mind, which both contribute to restful sleep. Furthermore, magnesium is required for proper function of the GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is the neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful state.
A number of vitamins and minerals work synergistically and magnesium tops the list. It is needed for the proper utilization of calcium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin D, and other nutrients. By using magnesium externally or transdermally (“across the skin”), the body can absorb what it needs without absorbing too much.
Magnesium is essential to your health. If you’re feeling these symptoms, see a doctor and consider taking a magnesium supplement such as this one. Do you know of any other magnesium deficiency symptoms not mentioned here? Any strange ones that have affected you?
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working towards finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.