Signs of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium Deficiency Signs And Symptoms

Magnesium deficiency is common today. Many people don’t know that they are deficient in magnesium. There are some signs and symptoms that your body sends and tells you that you need to increase your magnesium intake.

In this article, we will try to show some signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency and how to increase the levels of this vital mineral by food.

As the fourth most abundant mineral in your body and the second most common intracellular positively charged ion (after potassium), magnesium is required for the healthy function of most cells in your body, especially your heart, kidneys, and muscles.

A lack of magnesium will impede your cellular metabolic function and deteriorate mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more serious health problems.

Unfortunately, magnesium insufficiency or deficiency is extremely common around the world. According to 2011 data, 45 percent of American adults do not get the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) amount of magnesium from their diet, and teen statistics published in 2014 suggests nearly 92 percent of teenagers between 14 to 18 do not meet the estimated average requirement for magnesium from food alone.

The most likely reason for this is because they do not eat fresh vegetables regularly.

Magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule. So, if you rarely eat leafy greens, you’re probably getting very little magnesium from your diet.

Moreover, some researchers insist the RDA is inadequate, warning that many suffer from subclinical magnesium deficiency that can compromise their cardiovascular health.

 Adding to the problem is that regular serum magnesium is a poor test, as only 1 percent of the magnesium in your body is found in your bloodstream.

Your best bet is to have an RBC magnesium test done, which measures the amount of magnesium in your red blood cells.

You can also evaluate and track signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and to make sure you eat magnesium-rich foods and/or take a magnesium supplement, balanced with vitamins D3, K2, and calcium.

Related: Without Additional Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Be Ineffective

Alternatively, keep an eye on your potassium and calcium levels, as low potassium and calcium are common laboratory signs of magnesium deficiency.

Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Common signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency include the following.

  • Seizures; muscle spasms, especially “Charley horses” or spasms in your calf muscle that happen when you stretch your leg and/or eye twitches
  • Numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and/or coronary spasms

Common Pathologies Associated With Magnesium Deficiency

Considering the influence of magnesium, it’s no great surprise that deficiency can snowball into significant health problems.

When magnesium intake is low, your body compensates, trying to maintain a normal serum magnesium level by pulling the mineral from your bones, muscles and internal organs.

Common pathologies associated with magnesium deficiency include but are not limited to:

  • Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death
  • Conditions associated with peroxynitrite damage, such as migraines, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Impotence (also associated with low nitric oxide levels)
  • Increased risk of death from all causes
  • Premenstrual syndrome, mood swings, aggression, anxiety, and depression (as magnesium acts as a catalyst for mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin)
  • Osteoporosis

Even Subclinical Magnesium Deficiency May Place Your Cardiovascular Health at Risk

Magnesium is particularly important for heart health, helping you maintain normal blood pressure and protect against stroke, and even subclinical deficiency can lead to cardiovascular problems.

“… ‘Various studies have shown that at least 300 mg of magnesium must be supplemented to establish a significantly increased serum magnesium concentrations …’ In other words, most people need an additional 300 mg of magnesium per day to lower their risk of developing numerous chronic diseases.

So while the recommended … (RDA) for magnesium (between 300 and 420 mg /day for most people) may prevent frank magnesium deficiency, it is unlikely to provide optimal health and longevity, which should be the ultimate goal.”

A scientific analysis of 40 studies published between 1999 and 2016, involving more than 1 million participants in nine countries, also found that compared to those with the lowest intakes, those with the highest magnesium intakes had:

A 10 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease
-12 percent lower risk of stroke
-26 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes

Increasing magnesium intake by 100 mg per day lowered participants’ risk for heart failure by 22 percent; stroke by 7 percent; diabetes by 19 percent and all-cause mortality by 10 percent. While the analysis was based on observational studies and did not prove a direct link, the researchers noted the results support the theory that increasing your magnesium intake may provide overall health benefits.

Magnesium-Rich Foods

While you may still need magnesium supplementation (due to denatured soils), it would certainly be wise to try to get as much magnesium from your diet as possible. Organic unprocessed foods would be your best bet, but if they’re grown in magnesium-depleted soil, even organics could be low in this vital mineral.

Dark green leafy vegetables lead the pack when it comes to magnesium content, and juicing your greens is an excellent way to boost your intake. Greens with the highest magnesium levels include:

  • Spinach; Swiss chard; Turnip greens; Beet greens; Collard greens
  • Broccoli; Brussels sprouts; Kale; Bok Choy; Romaine lettuce

Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include:

Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

One ounce (28.35 grams) or raw cacao nibs contain about 65 mg of magnesium.


One cup of avocado on average (values differ depending on whether they come from California or Florida) contains about 44 mg of magnesium.

Avocados are also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

Seeds and nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 191 mg, 129 mg and 41 mg of magnesium respectively.

Cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts are also good sources; one-fourth cup of cashews contains 89 mg of magnesium.

Fatty fish

Interestingly, fatty fish such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are also high in magnesium. A half-fillet (6 ounces) of salmon can provide about 52 mg of magnesium.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil, and cloves.

Fruits and berries

Ranking high for magnesium is papaya, dried peaches, and apricots, tomato, and watermelon. For example, 1 cup of papaya can provide nearly 30 mg of magnesium; 1 cup of tomato gives you 17.

Organic, raw grass-fed yogurt and natto

Yogurt made from raw organic grass-fed milk with no added sugars; 1 cup of natto yields 201 mg of magnesium.

Read More: Foods Rich With Magnesium

Conclusion: Magnesium deficiency is very serious for your health. If you have signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, consult with your doctor first, maybe you will need Mg supplementation.

Try to intake magnesium naturally by eating healthy foods mentioned above.


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