You may have a magnesium deficiency and not even know it. And unfortunately, it can affect almost every aspect of your life.
Magnesium is involved with over 300 everyday reactions in the body.
Many adults are magnesium deficient. In fact, magnesium deficiency is a growing problem in the modern world.
Here’s why it’s becoming worse, why it goes undiagnosed, common signs and symptoms, and how to increase your magnesium intake.
Magnesium is an incredibly important nutrient in the human body.
In fact, magnesium is a mineral involved in energy production, blood sugar regulation, bone health, sleep cycles, immune system and more (1).
And, while it largely goes undiagnosed, many individuals are at risk of deficient magnesium in the modern world.
Here are the signs of magnesium deficient, why it’s a modern problem, and what you can do.
There are many reasons why magnesium deficiency is becoming more common.
The reasons include:
Unfortunately, some serious health issues can result from magnesium deficiency. These include diabetes, poor absorption, chronic diarrhea, celiac disease, and bone issues.
People with alcoholism, or who follow a strict diet that eliminates high-magnesium foods are at an increased risk (3).
When magnesium levels are tested, the amount in the serum plasma and red blood is tested. Unfortunately, this only accounts for about 1% of the total magnesium in the human body. Most of it is found in cells and tissues.
It is entirely possible, and even likely, to have adequate serum magnesium and still be deficient (4).
How can you tell? Start by reading our 7 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency.
If you often feel low in energy despite adequate sleep, you may be deficient in magnesium.
Of course, there are other reasons for fatigue. Stress, a busy schedule, a physically demanding job and more can cause fatigue. But, if you are unable to improve energy with adequate sleep or it’s unexplained fatigue, magnesium may be the culprit.
Another sign of magnesium deficiency is fatigue or weakness in your muscles themselves. This may be due to low magnesium directly, or a loss of potassium in the muscles, which is also associated with magnesium deficiency (5).
There are 3 ways adequate magnesium affects sleep. It:
Together, these attributes of magnesium make it easier to get good-quality sleep.
Do you suffer cramps or twitches in your legs, feet, or other muscles while you’re awake or sleeping?
Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency (9). When magnesium is low, there can be an imbalance of calcium that enters cells (including nerve cells), and this may be the cause of the convulsing muscles.
Oftentimes, this condition can be effectively alleviated with magnesium supplementation
Is it possible for low magnesium to cause a rise in blood pressure?
Animal studies suggest it is (10). What’s more, human studies with magnesium supplementation have shown a reduction in blood pressure, especially when it’s already elevated (11).
In addition, heart arrhythmias are linked to magnesium deficiency. Some people actually experience health palpitations and noticeable changes in heartbeat and rate. (12).
Other potential symptoms of arrhythmia include lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting.
Again, the issue is likely an imbalance of electrolyte minerals, which magnesium deficiency being a central cause (13).
While it’s not entirely clear whether a lack of magnesium causes constipation or whether it just alleviates it, magnesium is one tried-and-true constipation remedy.
If you experience constipation, and especially if you have other signs of magnesium deficiency, it’s worth increasing magnesium to see if it helps.
If you’ve been diagnosed with low bone density, you may be low in magnesium. In fact, magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Low magnesium may weaken bones directly, or it may cause issues with the absorption of calcium into the bones (14).
Animal studies have shown that low magnesium results in low bone mass. Human studies are needed to provide further confirmation (15).
Interestingly, low magnesium is often seen in individuals with asthma compared to healthy people (16).
Since magnesium and calcium balance affects muscles, it stands to reasons that muscles around the lungs could be affected.
In fact, many experts believe low magnesium causes a buildup of calcium in the muscles lining the airways of the lungs. They over-constrict, which causes breathing difficulties (17).
Like most nutrients, you can increase magnesium via supplement or food. Interestingly, magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin. To increase your intake:
Eat High-Magnesium Keto Zone Foods:
*Nuts, seeds, and grains contain phytic acid. Phytic acids bind magnesium and make it more difficult to absorb, rendering some foods as low bioavailability for magnesium even though they contain the mineral.
Use Epsom Salts and Magnesium Sprays: Traditionally, magnesium soaks, oils, and lotions have claimed therapeutics increases in magnesium levels. However, most of these therapies must be used consistently, and any actual increase in magnesium in studies has been inconclusive (18).
Still, anecdotally, many people claim better sleep, energy, muscle strength, and more with Epsom salt soaks. If you want to use Epsom salts or footbaths, try 2 cups Epsom salt in a standard bathtub or 1 cup in a foot soaking pan, and apply for at least 15 minutes. If using another type of magnesium salt, lotion, or oil, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Magnesium Supplementation: Using a high-quality magnesium supplement is the most effective way to increase levels. Most adults need 200-400 mg per day to maintain healthy amounts of magnesium in the body. The best absorbed and most effective magnesium supplements are chelated and use magnesium citrate, malate or other well-absorbed forms. Magnesium oxide is generally the least-tolerated and absorbed form.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral in human health. You, like many other modern adults, may have a magnesium deficiency and not even know. If you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency, takes steps to correct it and monitors your signs and symptoms. Magnesium supplementation, along with a healthy diet, is the most effective therapy.
When is the optimal time to take a magnesium supplement – AM or PM ?
Actually, either time is fine. Most people do well to split the dose into 2, one at AM and one at PM if taking more than 200 mg. For example, if taking 400 mg per day, split into 2, 200 mg each doses (this will lessen any incidence of loose stools). Thank you for your question!
These articles you are sending are so valuable. My husband, hypertensive for over 30 years, has suddenly developed uncontrolled hypertension that his doctors cannot understand. With pressures as high as 266 / 160 he is certainly in a danger zone. I appreciate your articles that may help us uncover the cause of this sudden sustained rise in his BP. God bless you. diane johnson
Thank you for your comment and for reading, Diane! I am hoping your husband finds the answers you both need. Take care.
For what it is worth, I wanted to share this: My wife had run-away high blood pressure. As high as what you cite your husband had. We endured countless emergency room visits and Dr. visits, where they repeatedly, indiscriminately, kept throwing dangerous high blood pressure medicines at my wife hoping one would stick. (none worked, but had lots of nasty side effects…)
L-O-N-G story short, she found that she had sleep apnea, and the cessation of breathing at night was causing the meteoric rise in her blood pressure. As soon as she got a C-Pap machine for sleep apnea, her blood pressure normalized to 120 over 75 WITH NO MEDS.