Magnesium Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms & Supplements
When you think about the minerals in your diet, magnesium may not be the first one you think of, but it is definitely one of the most important minerals to focus on in your diet. This is because every one of your organs require it for everyday function. If you develop a magnesium deficiency, you will suffer from a number of symptoms, including fatigue, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, and many other unpleasant symptoms.
The difficulty faced in diagnosing a magnesium deficiency surrounds the way magnesium is distributed in the body. Only 1% of all magnesium is transported through the blood. This means that blood tests are useless in diagnosing a magnesium deficiency.
The majority of the magnesium your body possesses can be found in organs and bone tissue. In these locations, it is utilized in various ways and assists in carrying out a large number of biological functions. Since a deficiency cannot be diagnosed though blood tests, it is possible for someone to suffer from a magnesium deficiency and not know the problem exists. This is why many medical professionals refer to the condition as “the invisible deficiency.”
In America, it is currently estimated that at least 80% of the population suffers from some degree of magnesium deficiency. Studies have also shown that only 25% of adults are taking in the recommended daily value of magnesium, which is between 310 – 320 mg for women, and 400 to 420 mg for men. To make matters worse, the recommended daily intake is barely enough to prevent deficiency.
What is Magnesium and Why is it Important
Most of the population considers magnesium a mineral that helps assist the heart and bones preform their function. However, recent scientific studies show that its role in maintaining health and preventing disease has been underestimated. These studies have shown that proteins in the human body contain more than 3,700 magnesium-binding sites. This means it is extremely essential that people exceed the daily recommended value, because it is likely to change when research concludes.
Currently, doctors examining lab reports for magnesium levels in the blood hope for a level between 1.7 and 2.2 mg/dL. This is the normal range, but it can vary depending on the laboratory that is used. There is some sway in these findings caused by lab testing procedures and the materials used to test the blood.
It may also surprise you to find out that magnesium plays a part in over 300 enzymes that your body uses daily, including the enzymes used for naturally detoxifying your body. This means that it is necessary to help your body flush out environmental hazards, toxins and heavy metals that build up in your body by coming into contact with your everyday world. Magnesium is also essential for the body to carry out the following actions:
- Keeping nerves and muscles active
- Creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- Assisting the digestive process and breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
- Helping synthesize DNA and RNA
- Sits in as a precursor to various neurotransmitters
The scientific research connected to magnesium and the human body shows that a deficiency is the cause a host of medical conditions. Each one has been scientifically proven:
- Anxiety disorders
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Bowel diseases
- Unsuccessful detoxification
- Kidney disease
- Blood clots
- Obstetric difficulties, including infertility
- Rapid tooth decay
- Nerve disorders
Causes of Magnesium Deficiencies
There are many causes for the development of a magnesium deficiency. However, there are some causes that have been scientifically tied to the development of this specific deficiency.
The processes involved in large quantity industrial agriculture can pull a lot of minerals from the soil, magnesium being one of them. Instead of fertilizing with natural compost based products, many have resorted to using synthetic versions. While these fertilizers help to grow the plants, increase the size of produce, and breakdown the left-over plant waste, taking minerals with it. They also require more water, leaving irrigation as the best option to water the plants. The constant water contact also helps to wash away important minerals, like magnesium. Unfortunately, when it comes to produce, if the minerals are not in the soil, they cannot make their way into the food.
City Water Supplies
In 2007, Life Extension Magazine published an extremely informative piece about magnesium deficiency. The magazine pointed the finger at city water supplies, which was later backed up by scientific research. By drinking water that is located in springs, lakes and rivers, humans take in a lot of minerals from their drinking water.
Unfortunately, this water has been filtered, treated with chemicals, and it may potentially come into contact with pesticides along the way. Because of their desire to filter the water and treat it with chemicals, which depletes minerals like calcium and magnesium, leaving many people short on their daily mineral intake.
Taking in Too Much Calcium
Just like many other minerals, magnesium requires a helper in order to properly absorb. The primary assistant for magnesium is calcium, which is also a helper for many other minerals. However, the two must be carefully balanced for the magnesium to be usable in the body. If too much calcium is taken in, the absorption of magnesium can be impaired.
Scientific studies have proven that if a person takes a calcium supplement without taking in a balanced amount of magnesium, the magnesium will not be absorbed. One should always take in only twice as much calcium as they do magnesium.
Other Possible Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Other possible causes for the development of a magnesium deficiency can range widely. The most common triggers in this category are:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Medical treatment to filter waste from the blood
- Cirrhosis of the liver, or scaring of the liver
- Excess production of aldosterone, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland
- Lack of parathyroid hormones
- Pancreatic inflammation
- Over production of insulin
Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Since magnesium is so imperative to healthy function of organ and bone function, as well as various biochemical reactions in the body. The symptoms of deficiency fall into two categories.
Physical Symptoms of Mild Deficiency
The physical symptoms of a mild magnesium deficiency include:
- Decreased appetite
- Varying degrees of headaches
- Physical weakness
- Weight loss
Physical Symptoms of Serious Deficiency
The physical symptoms of a serious magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness and tingling of extremities
- Changes in personality
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Symptoms of Long-Term Deficiency
Symptoms of long-term magnesium deficiency can vary greatly. However, at this point, the deficiency can cause the development of disorders and diseases that will need to be managed for the rest of the affected person’s life. The symptoms of long-term deficiency are:
- Development of potassium deficiency
- Development of diabetes
- Development of severe calcium deficiency
- Development of eating disorders
- Development of seizure disorder
- Sudden or gradual behavioral changes
- Anxiety with associated irritability
- Sudden, unexplained memory impairment
- Sudden, unexplained cognitive impairment
Heart Related Symptoms
- Artery spasms
- Development of irregular heartbeat
Symptoms Affecting Youth
- Varying degrees of growth restriction
- Mild to severe muscle cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Difficulty swallowing
Treating A Magnesium Deficiency
The exact treatment for a magnesium deficiency will depend on the cause, and the symptoms associated with a patient’s particular situation. Once the condition is treated, patients can expect an excellent prognosis, at least when it comes to the primary condition. Secondary conditions that developed due to the deficiency.
Increasing the intake of green vegetables, like spinach, cabbage, and similar vegetables is a great way to increase your magnesium intake. The reason this is successful is because the high number of chlorophyll molecules contained in green vegetables contain magnesium. Foods like nuts, seeds, and whole grains have also proven to be a great source.
If the magnesium deficiency has increased to the point where secondary conditions have developed, medication therapy may be necessary to control both conditions.
For the mineral deficiency, many patients only require a 24-hour IV regimen. This IV transfusion provides essential vitamins and minerals. Many patients say they feel like a new person who is full of energy when they leave the hospital.
Patients who developed the deficiency as a result of taking diuretics to treat another medical condition may require a medication change, or supplementation. If the patient has to remain on the diuretic, supplement, changing diets, and possible prescription medications may be needed.
Best Supplements for Magnesium Deficiency
There are countless supplements on the market to help reverse magnesium deficiencies. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of supplement companies out there looking to take advantage of people in need of help. This is why it is so important that every supplement you evaluate, whether it is 100% natural or not, every single ingredient in it. You should also make sure that you have a thorough understanding of any side effects they can pose, any interactions with medications you are currently taking, and what adverse reactions you should keep an eye out for. Even though a supplement is not a prescription medication, it is still capable of causing side effects that are just as scary, and just as harsh as prescription medication.
The first mistake that people make is believing everything they read on a label. The second mistake is assuming that the FDA regulates over-the-counter supplements. The FDA does not regulate a supplement unless there are numerous complaints that lead to the conclusion that the product may not be safe. Before purchasing a supplement, do your own research on it. Find out what other customers through about it. Did they have any reactions? Did they suffer from uncomfortable side effects? Did the supplement make them feel sick? If there are multiple reports of the same side effect, find a different supplement.
Doctor’s Best High Absorption Chelated Magnesium
Doctor’s Best creates their magnesium supplements using chelated magnesium glycinate. They are acclaimed for having one of the highest absorption rates, helps reduce the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. A serving size of this product is two tablets in the morning, which is equivalent to 200 mg of magnesium.
Source Naturals Magnesium Malate
Source Naturals makes this magnesium supplement with magnesium malate. A serving size of this product is three tablets, which is equivalent to 425 mg. They also contain 2.5 grams of malic acid. While it is not as effective as Doctor’s Best, it has two purposes. It treats magnesium deficiency as well as muscle soreness.
Natural Vitality – Natural Calm
This magnesium supplement is a powder based formula. Simply put two teaspoons of the powder into an 8-ounce glass of water. A single serving provides 325 mg of magnesium citrate. Unlike the others, it makes a nice fizzy drink that is more comforting than swallowing tablets. The two perks of this form of magnesium delivery is that:
- The powder makes it easy for anyone to take
- The powder comes in a lot of flavors
Before you start taking a magnesium supplement, you should talk to your doctor to ensure that it will not interfere, or react negatively, with any medications or herbal supplements that you are currently taking.
Eating Foods Rich in Magnesium
Foods that are rich in magnesium can be essential for cellular health. Consuming these foods can also assist in over 300 body functions on a biochemical level. We have compiled the top ten magnesium rich foods, along with the amount of magnesium they offer per serving size.
Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods
Here are the top 10 vegetables that provide high amounts of magnesium. While they are not the only foods that contain a high level of magnesium, they provide a great natural dosage of it. They also contain a nice amount of chlorophyll. By adding just a few of these veggies to your diet can save you a lot of money in supplements and medications over time.
Keep in mind, the average daily recommended value of magnesium is 400 mg for men, and 320 mg for women.
- Spinach – 1 cup of raw spinach provides 157 mg, which is 40% of the daily recommended value.
- Chard – 1 cup of chard provides 154 mg, which is 38% of the daily recommended value.
- Pumpkin Seeds – 1/8 cup of pumpkin seeds make a great snack. They also provide 92 mg, 23% of your daily recommended value.
- Kefir or Yogurt – 1 cup of either provides 50 mg, which is 13% of the daily recommended value.
- Almonds – 1 ounce of almonds provides 560 mg, which is 20% of the daily recommended value.
- Black Beans – ½ cup of black beans has 60 mg of magnesium, which is 15% of the daily recommended value.
- Avocado – 1 medium avocado, even if it is made into a spread, contains 58 mg of magnesium, which is 15% of the daily recommended value.
- Figs – ½ cup of figs, even if they are prepared, provides 50 mg, which is 13% of the daily recommended value.
- Dark Chocolate – 1 square of dark chocolate contains 95 mg of magnesium, which is 24% of the daily recommended value.
- Bananas – 1 medium banana contains 32 mg of magnesium, which is 8% of the daily recommended value.
- Bananas – 1 medium banana contains 32 mg of magnesium, which is 8% of the daily recommended value.
Other foods that are rich in magnesium are salmon, cashews, goat cheese, and artichokes.