by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies among otherwise healthy adults. This mineral is critical to the proper function of your nervous system, muscles, heart, and metabolic system.
If you’re suffering from strange symptoms ranging from muscle tics to chronic fatigue, they may be caused by a simple mineral deficiency. Learn the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency and how to treat it effectively.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Without magnesium, your muscles would be in a constant state of contraction and your body could not regulate its cholesterol levels. You’d have virtually no energy because magnesium is also responsible for your body’s generation of ATP, the primary unit of energy within the body’s cells.
Possible Causes of Low Magnesium
Celiac disease or gluten intolerance can be one possible cause of magnesium deficiency. In people with gluten intolerance, the tiny hairs in the lower intestines become flattened due to chronic inflammation. This results in malabsorption of nutrients, including magnesium. This common mineral deficiency can also be caused by:
- Excessive Alcohol Use
- Chronic Use Of Antibiotics
- NSAID Pain Relievers
- Some Antidepressant Medications
- Not Consuming Enough Dietary Magnesium
- Chronic Use Of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Signs and Symptoms of Low Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency can be a tricky issue to pin down because it mimics the symptoms of so many other health problems. Do these symptoms of magnesium deficiency sound familiar to you?
- Behavioral Problems
- Extreme Fatigue
- Migraine Headache
- Muscle Tics
- Muscle Spasms and Cramps
- Ataxia (Uncoordinated Muscular Movements)
- Involuntary Eye Movements
- Trouble Swallowing
- Restless Legs
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Heart Palpitations
- Calcium Deficiency
- Potassium Deficiency
- Increased Intercellular Calcium
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Stomach Cramping
- Hair Loss
- Soft, Brittle Nails
- Cold Hands
As you can see, magnesium deficiency can cause many health problems. You may be treating your hypertension with blood pressure medication or your insomnia with over-the-counter sleeping aids. You might think your nausea, diarrhea, and intestinal cramping is a food allergy or irritable bowel syndrome. And if your hair isn’t already falling out due to magnesium deficiency, you may be pulling it out trying to figure out what’s causing your chronic fatigue. That’s why it’s always a good idea to start with the basics and find out if a simple mineral deficiency is the cause of your misery.
Why a Simple Blood Test Won’t Reveal Low Magnesium
With some vitamin and mineral deficiencies, a regular serum blood test is enough to detect low levels. Not so with magnesium deficiency! Your body works very hard at keeping the blood levels normal by taking it from your bone, brain, and muscles. The reason being is that only about one percent of your magnesium is circulating in your blood.
The other 99% is located in your bone, muscles, brain and other tissues. Your body looks at these organs as “savings accounts” and will quickly make a withdrawal from them to keep your blood levels normal. So your blood level can look great while the rest of your body has a depleted balance and suffers the effects!
To truly know if you are deficient in magnesium, there are two methods to use. One is to take the correct form of magnesium in the proper dose, which we will discuss later in this article. If your symptoms resolve, you were low in magnesium! That’s a very simple and inexpensive way to find out. Based on many studies, including what I have seen and treated in my 30 plus years of clinical practice, at least 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium. Most of the remaining 20% are probably taking the correct form and dose of magnesium.
For those who want to check their magnesium levels to know exactly where they are, Spectracell.com offers a blood test based on
white blood cell levels. White blood cells are some of the best markers of nutritional deficiencies, as they reflect actual tissue levels.
The first step to healing your symptoms and getting more magnesium in your diet is to start eating magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Black Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Cooked Spinach
- Rice Bran
- Dried Coriander
- Flax Seed
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Dark Chocolate
Why it’s Difficult to Get Enough Magnesium Through Diet Alone
In an ideal world, you could get all the complete nutrients you need from food alone. Unfortunately, modern soil isn’t as rich in essential vitamins and minerals as it was during your grandparent’s time. This means even if you eat a diet rich in greens, beans, and rice, with a hunk of dark chocolate for dessert, you may still suffer from a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Chelated Magnesium – Why it’s Superior to Other Forms of Magnesium
When it comes to supplements, good quality is everything. Resist the temptation to grab conventional multivitamins and minerals from your grocery store shelf to get the magnesium your body craves. There are several forms of magnesium supplements, and most are not well absorbed.
In my opinion, to quickly address a magnesium deficiency, chelated magnesium is the best form due to its superior absorption. Chelated means that the magnesium is bound to an amino acid for better absorption. This is what the human body naturally prefers.
Within the family of chelated magnesium products, there are several forms. I have found the one that gives superior tissue and cellular levels contains a balanced mixture of dimagnesium malate, magnesium citrate,and magnesium lysinate glycinate chelate. For most of my adult patients, I recommend 400-500 MG. daily of Diamond Nutritionals’ Chelated Magnesium. Two twice a day contains 470 MG.
Magnesium deficiency can cause a lot of troubling symptoms. If you’ve been visiting the doctor time and time again and the results are inconclusive and frustrating, try looking at it from another angle. Once you’ve addressed a magnesium mineral deficiency, you should find you sleep better, have more energy, and your mystery symptoms may even begin to disappear.
If you’re suffering, don’t give up! Always understand that getting to the root of the problem, instead of masking it with ineffective medications and treatments, is your best and most empowering way to feel better again.