Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth and the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. It is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body and is present in every cell type.
About 50 to 60 percent of all magnesium in the body is stored in the bones and only a small amount is present in the blood.
This nutrient is especially important for healthy bones, regulation of blood pressure, restful sleep, good blood circulation, proper nerve functioning, a strong immune system, heart health, muscle health, proper elimination, absorption of vitamin D and proper digestion of carbohydrates.
Some early signs of magnesium deficiency include numbness and tingling, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Plus, it is associated with conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, insomnia, migraine, anxiety and panic attacks, and musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, etc.
Studies have indicated that most people are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. A few causes of magnesium deficiency are an unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol intake, poorly controlled diabetes, excessive or chronic vomiting, and long-term diarrhea.
The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium varies based on age, gender and whether a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Here are the top 10 signs that you are magnesium deficient.
1. Muscle Spasms and Cramps
Regular muscle spasms and cramps are also noticeable symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is important for muscle health. It stimulates calcium re-uptake that can help maintain strong muscles and prevent cramps.
It also increases the absorption of potassium, which is critical for proper muscle functioning. In addition, it helps reduce muscle pain by blocking pain receptors in the brain and nervous system.
If you often experience muscle cramps, make sure to check the magnesium level in your body. Frequent muscle twitching, especially eye twitching, may also be caused by magnesium deficiency.
2. Frequent Migraines
If you are prone to frequent migraine attacks, you may be deficient in magnesium . In fact, a 1989 study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain concluded that low brain magnesium is an important factor in the mechanism of migraine attacks.
Treatment of migraines during pregnancy requires great care. Magnesium may be a safer choice than powerful prescription medications.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission suggests that all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. It may be helpful for treating menstrual migraines, too.
3. Abnormal Heart Rhythms
Irregular and abnormal heart rhythms are one of the classic symptoms of low magnesium in the body. This mineral is important for proper heart functioning and supports the rhythmic heart activity. It even helps ensure proper blood circulation in the body.
In addition, magnesium helps in the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important for normal heart rhythm.
4. Anxiety, Depression and Restlessness
If you suddenly feel depressed, lethargic, restless and irritable without any known cause, it can be due to a nutritional deficiency, such as magnesium. This mineral helps keep us feeling calm and relaxed and its deficiency is often linked to these problems.
A 2006 study published in the Medical Hypotheses journal reports that magnesium deficiency could cause depression, behavioral disturbances and irritability – all reversible with magnesium repletion.
Increasing your magnesium level can help alleviate nervousness and reduce anxiety, restlessness and general irritation. In addition, it induces sleep, which can help when depression is preventing you from getting proper sleep.
5. Loss of Appetite
Low magnesium in the body can also cause loss of appetite. Magnesium helps the body digest, absorb and utilize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Without proper absorption of minerals, your internal system does not work properly, leading to loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
6. Unexplained Fatigue and Weakness
Even a mild deficiency of magnesium can cause fatigue and general weakness. You may experience lack of physical or muscle strength and find that you need to put a little extra effort into performing your regular daily activities.
Magnesium plays a key role in breaking down glucose into energy, which boosts your metabolism and helps fight fatigue and weakness.
In addition, this important nutrient regulates the metabolism of other minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C and zinc, which help provide energy to your body.
7. Rise in Blood Pressure
Studies show that magnesium affects blood pressure and low levels contribute to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
A 1999 study published in the Hypertension journal states that magnesium deficiency induces elevation of blood pressure.
Magnesium works as a smooth muscle vasodilator, which helps keep blood vessels soft and pliable. In addition, this mineral promotes sound sleep and aids in relaxation.
A low magnesium level can lead to low potassium in the body. Potassium is another important nutrient for keeping your blood pressure under control.
8. Struggling for Sound Sleep
If you have difficulty falling asleep or you do not feel rested after several hours of sleep, there is a good chance that your body is not getting enough magnesium.
Magnesium is the ultimate relaxation mineral that helps relax the body and mind, which in turn contribute to restful sleep.
Its deficiency affects the proper functioning of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. GABA is the neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful state to enjoy sound sleep.
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, researchers found the effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly people to be highly effective.
Magnesium supplements helped improve subjective measures of insomnia, such as the ISI score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, and early morning awakening.
9. Difficulty Concentrating and Loss of Memory
Learning and memory are fundamental brain functions affected by your magnesium level. In fact, magnesium is vital to the functioning of the nervous system and has a direct impact on your learning abilities, working memory, and short- and long-term memory. It also increases attention span and lessens mental confusion.
A 2010 study published in the Neuron journal suggests that an increase in brain magnesium improves learning and memory functions.
A low magnesium level might contribute to the heavy metal deposition in the brain, which in turn increases the risk of Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
10. Unpleasant Body Odor
If you are suddenly sweating a lot and have an unpleasant body odor, a low magnesium level in your body may be the reason.
Magnesium helps control sweat gland activity and neutralizes odor-producing chemicals. It even helps treat excessive night sweating.
A dietary imbalance of magnesium could contribute to excessive sweating in general, but research is lacking in this field.
To fight unpleasant body odor, eat more foods rich in magnesium or take a supplement after consulting your doctor. Also, maintain good hygiene.
Tips to Increase Your Magnesium Level
- The best way to get your daily dose of magnesium is through a healthy diet. Some magnesium-rich foods are almonds, avocado, bananas, beans, pumpkin seeds, tofu, soy milk, cashews, pecans, walnuts, potatoes with skin, yogurt, blackstrap molasses, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
- Enjoying an Epsom salt bath 2 times a week can also help maintain a normal magnesium level in the body.
- You can also take supplements, but only after consulting a doctor. A doctor’s supervision is particularly important for people suffering from heart or kidney disease, or people on medication.
- Plus, limit your intake of caffeine, soda drinks, salt, sugar and alcoholic beverages. Birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin and certain antibiotics can also reduce magnesium levels. Excessive sweating from exercise or other causes can also deplete this mineral.