Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms: What Are They?

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    Magnesium deficiency can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. By understanding how to prevent or treat deficiencies, we can live fuller and healthier lives.

    Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly. It's also one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in adults, although many people are unaware of its symptoms or simply do not present with any symptoms. In this article, we'll explore what a magnesium deficiency may look like, and how to make sure your levels are sufficient for optimal health.

    We'll also discuss natural ways to increase your magnesium intake and help you get back on track with your health. With this information in hand, you can start feeling your best again!

    Why we need magnesium

    Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies, and we need it in order to function properly. It plays a crucial role in the body’s muscle and nerve functions, providing energy and enabling cells to communicate with each other. Without adequate magnesium, muscles can't contract and nerves can't send signals throughout the body as they should.

    It also plays a particularly important role in cardiovascular and bone health. Not only does it act as a cofactor and help synthesize vitamin D which is essential for bone growth, but it's also important for maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can impact magnesium levels, some of which include alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, and taking certain medications. Without adequate magnesium in the body, muscle,and nerve function, as well as cardiovascular and bone health, can be compromised.

    What is magnesium deficiency?

    Magnesium deficiency, sometimes referred to as hypomagnesemia, is when the body does not have enough magnesium. Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays an important role in many bodily functions, including maintaining healthy muscle and nerve function, healthy blood sugar levels already within normal limits, and helping maintain strong bones. Adequate levels of magnesium can support an individual’s overall health. Let’s explore who is at higher risk for developing a magnesium deficiency and what signs and symptoms we should look for.

    Who is at risk for a magnesium deficiency?

    Magnesium is vital for our bodies, and a deficiency of it can lead to various health issues. The chances of developing a magnesium deficiency increase when certain factors are present. Medications, such as diuretics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), inhibit the body’s ability to absorb magnesium. This also applies to those who have any digestion or absorption issues.

    Athletes who train intensely over long periods of time may also be at risk for magnesium deficiencies due to increased losses through sweat. This study found that most athletes may not consume enough magnesium in their diets.

    Those in older age brackets may also be more likely to develop this type of deficiency since their kidneys can become less efficient at conserving minerals as they age. Digestive enzymes also decrease with age, which has an effect on how much magnesium is available for metabolic processes in the body.

    What causes a magnesium deficiency?

    It is estimated that around 50% of adults don't get enough magnesium from their diet alone. This means that taking additional supplements may be necessary to help ensure optimal levels of this vital mineral are achieved.

    The main cause of magnesium deficiency is inadequate dietary intake and inadequate absorption of the mineral. Poor diet choices, such as consuming processed foods with limited nutrients, can contribute to low levels of magnesium in the body. Other factors associated with decreased dietary intake include reduced appetite or malabsorption e, which can decrease the number and amount of minerals absorbed from food.

    Taking certain medicines may also lead to depleted magnesium levels in the body. For instance, one study reported increased excretion of magnesium and lower blood levels of magnesium in participants who were taking diuretics. The results prompted additional research and suggested that those on certain medications such as diuretics should have their doctors measure their magnesium levels periodically.

    Other potential contributors to magnesium deficiency include alcohol intake and long-term use of antibiotics. Symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, nausea, and loss of appetite amongst others. These symptoms are not exclusive to magnesium deficiencies so be sure to talk to your doctor about new symptoms and health concerns.

    Since there are so many elements that can affect our magnesium levels – from lifestyle choices to medications – we need to take extra care when ensuring we're getting the right amount for our individual needs.

    Signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency

    Those who are deficient in magnesium may experience a range of signs and symptoms. In some cases, individuals may be magnesium deficient but have no noticeable symptoms. However, common signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include fatigue, muscle cramps/weakness, and muscle twitches.

    More severe deficiencies can cause additional issues such as nausea, vomiting, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, or heart rhythm changes. It’s important to note that these potential presentations are not exclusive to magnesium deficiency, so always share any concerns with your doctor to identify underlying issues.

    How is magnesium deficiency treated?

    Fortunately, there are several ways to manage magnesium deficiency. The most common way to address deficiencies is through supplementation with either oral or intravenous forms of magnesium. Care/of magnesium supplements contain 200 mg of magnesium per capsule, derived from Irish seawater with high solubility.

    Additionally, certain dietary modifications can help increase magnesium intake by increasing magnesium-rich foods in the diet.

    Finally, monitoring blood levels is key. Talk to your doctor about checking your levels, so that together you can determine the right course of supplementation.

    How can you prevent a magnesium deficiency?

    Magnesium deficiencies can be prevented by ensuring you are receiving adequate amounts of this vital mineral through your diet. Consuming a balanced, nutrient-rich diet will likely prevent you from developing any sort of deficiencies. Deficiencies may also be prevented by consistently taking a high-quality magnesium supplement. Let’s discuss these two recommendations in a bit more detail.


    The best way to ensure your body has enough of this essential nutrient is to get it through your diet. Eating foods that are high in magnesium – such as nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale, legumes like beans and lentils and whole grains like brown rice or oats – can help keep levels balanced.

    Magnesium supplementation

    Thankfully, it's relatively easy to maintain healthy magnesium levels with the right supplements and lifestyle changes. When looking for a supplement to boost magnesium levels, it's best to opt for forms of magnesium with high solubility in order to avoid potential digestive discomfort.

    It’s important to note that consulting a doctor before starting any supplement regimen is suggested in order to ensure proper dosing.

    How to supplement magnesium for a magnesium deficiency

    The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adults is 320-420 mg per day – from diet or from supplements. As always, you should talk to your doctor before adding a supplement to your routine. Your doctor can help you come up with a dosage and treatment strategy that’s right for you. Furthermore, it is important to take the supplement daily and with consistency so that you can properly raise serum levels.

    Final takeaways

    Magnesium deficiency is an often overlooked health issue that can present as a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, and muscle twitches.

    Eating a balanced diet with plenty of dark leafy greens, nuts, and legumes, as well as taking a high-quality supplement if needed, are all great ways to ensure your body is getting the magnesium it needs. By understanding the importance of magnesium and maintaining adequate magnesium levels, we can help our bodies function at optimal levels!

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.