It’s estimated that a whopping 80% of the population has a magnesium deficiency, and there’s no way to test for it to see if you have one too, which is why it’s important to look for the signs and symptoms associated with low levels of magnesium.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a vital part of life, and our bodies use this mineral for over 300 different biochemical reactions like sleep, blood pressure, immune function, metabolism, and more. Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which means our body needs large quantities of it for us to properly function.
It is crucial for enzyme function throughout our body, which is responsible for hundreds of functions such as cell regulation, metabolism, hormones, creation of DNA and RNA, cholesterol regulation, glucose and fat breakdown, and many more.
Why Are We Deficient?
Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in magnesium due to depleted soil conditions, or chemicals like fluoride and chlorine in the water, which can bind to magnesium making it less available to our bodies.
Other reasons why we have a magnesium deficiency is because many of our everyday activities can deplete our magnesium levels , like drinking caffeine, eating too much sugar, not getting enough sleep, or being overly stressed. All of these actions can sap the magnesium out of our bodies, which can cause fatigue, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, high blood pressure, and more.
The Calcium Culprit
Calcium and magnesium go hand in hand, but too much calcium and not enough magnesium can cause calcification of the body, which is definitely not good. Contrary to what we’ve been told, we actually get too much calcium in our daily diet, from calcium fortified milk, orange juice, processed foods, supplements, and more.
Magnesium helps regulate the amount of minerals that go into our cells, but when we are deficient in magnesium, our cells end up getting too much calcium, which can cause some pretty serious issues over time. That’s why the Framingham Health Study found that just by consuming more magnesium in our diets, our risk of coronary heart disease lowered.
9 Signs Of A Magnesium Deficiency
There are many different symptoms that a magnesium deficiency can cause, and while these are also common symptoms of many other ailments, you may find that some of your symptoms decrease just by increasing your magnesium intake. Here are some of the signs of a magnesium deficiency:
1. Anxiety and Depression
Everyone at some point in their life suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression but for some, it can be a debilitating part of their daily lives. Research has shown a link between magnesium deficiency and the impact it has on mental health.
Psychology Today explains this possible reasoning:
Magnesium hangs out in the synapse between two neurons along with calcium and glutamate. If you recall, calcium and glutamate are excitatory, and in excess, toxic (link is external). They activate the NMDA receptor. Magnesium can sit on the NMDA receptor without activating it, like a guard at the gate. Therefore, if we are deficient in magnesium, there’s no guard. Calcium and glutamate can activate the receptor like there is no tomorrow. In the long term, this damages the neurons, eventually leading to cell death. In the brain, that is not an easy situation to reverse or remedy.
It appears that magnesium plays an important role in our brains, which could very well be a solution to those suffering from anxiety, depression, and more.
2. Muscle Cramps and Spasms
Ever gotten a ‘Charlie Horse’ in your leg? Imagine that feeling, only all over your body. Many people suffer from chronic muscle pain, aches, cramping, and spasms on a daily basis, and a magnesium deficiency could very well be the cause.
When we are low on magnesium, are muscles begin to contract and stay contracted because there’s not enough energy to relax them. If you’ve ever suddenly felt a spasm in your leg, hip, arm, or any other body part, it may be because your body is depleted of magnesium. This is one of the reasons I keep a bottle of magnesium lotion close by, so if I feel a muscle cramp coming on, I just rub the lotion on the spasm and it starts to relax.
3. Insomnia and Sleep Problems
I’ve suffered from insomnia for years, but I always attributed it to things like a bad mattress, the wrong type of pillow, too much caffeine (which can cause sleep problems), or anything else that wasn’t an actual mineral deficiency. This is because I never even knew about magnesium back then, or that I was likely deficient in it, among other things.
Soon after taking a magnesium supplement regularly, I noticed that I was falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. Magnesium is responsible for the functioning of the GABA receptors in our brain, which help regulate our brain’s transition into a more restful state. If you suffer from insomnia, you may find these natural insomnia remedies helpful.
4. Low Energy and Fatigue
Along with a lack of sleep, being deficient in magnesium can also cause us to have low energy and fatigue throughout the day. Sleep and energy go hand in hand, so if we’re not sleeping properly at night, we’re definitely going to feel the after effects in the daytime.
The main source of energy in our cells is called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, but in order to be active, ATP must bind with magnesium. If you are deficient in magnesium, your cells literally won’t have the energy to keep your going throughout the day. So the next time you’re feeling fatigued, tired, or dragging along, try taking a magnesium supplement, or using magnesium oil on your skin, and you might be surprised at the boost of energy you get without caffeine.
5. Hormone Imbalances
Magnesium plays an important role in helping balance our hormones, thyroid function, and regulates stress which results in better hormone production and function. Studies have shown that taking magnesium can actually reduce hot flashes by up to 50%, and women who take magnesium during their menstrual cycles can experience less intense cramping and PMS.
6. Heart Disease
If you suffer from heart disease, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that low magnesium levels in patients is the greatest predictor of cardiovascular disease, not cholesterol or saturated fat. Magnesium deficiency can also cause the arteries to calcify, which usually leads to heart attacks.
Dr. Andrea Rosanoff states:
These numerous studies have found low magnesium to be associated with all known cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, arterial plaque build-up (atherogenesis), hardening of the arteries and the calcification of soft tissues. This means we have been chasing our tails all of these years going after cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet, when the true culprit was and still is low magnesium.
It’s no wonder why half of heart attack patients are administered a dose of magnesium chloride to help stop the calcification and blood clotting in their hearts.
7. Weak and Fragile Bones
Calcium has always been touted as the ‘miracle bone healing mineral’, and while calcium is very important to have in our daily diet, magnesium plays an even greater role. Without magnesium, calcium can’t function properly, which means that our bones don’t absorb the calcium as well as they should.
Here are just some of the ways magnesium plays a part in bone health:
- Production of Calcitonin: Magnesium helps stimulate the thyroid’s production of calcitonin, a hormone responsible for preserving bone health. It also regulates the parathyroid hormone, which helps prevent the breakdown of our bones, i.e. osteoporosis.
- Vitamin D Activation: Vitamin D is essential for bone health and without it, our body can’t properly utilize calcium to help strengthen and heal our bones. Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of calcium from our bodies into our bones, but without magnesium, vitamin D can’t convert into its active form. Low levels of magnesium can result in vitamin D resistance, which leads to weak bones and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
8. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
Multiple studies have shown a link between magnesium deficiency and high blood pressure noting that people who had higher levels of magnesium in their bodies exhibited lower blood pressure, while those deficient in magnesium had higher blood pressure, or hypertension. Could the solution to high blood pressure really be that simple?
Studies have shown that over 85% of people diagnosed with hypertension can normalize their blood pressure through lifestyle changes, including an increase in magnesium levels. While this is something you would want to discuss with your doctor first, if you’re currently on any type of medication, there is good science to back up these claims.
9. Other Mineral Deficiencies
Magnesium is vital to the absorption and function of many different minerals and vitamins our bodies need including vitamin D, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and many other important nutrients. Without magnesium, our bodies can’t utilize other minerals and vitamins efficiently, which can lead to additional deficiencies and so on. Magnesium should be taken in conjunction with other supplements in order for them to function properly and effectively.
How To Take Magnesium
Magnesium is extremely easy to supplement with, and one of the best ways to take it is transdermally, or through the skin. This way allows your skin to absorb the magnesium quickly and avoids some of the digestive issues that come with the oral supplement form. Always talk with your doctor before supplementing magnesium, as you want to ensure it doesn’t interfere with any current medications.
Here are the best ways to increase your magnesium intake:
- Supplements: If you want to take a magnesium supplement, there are several different kinds out there, but some of them can cause digestive issues, or even a laxative effect. The best type to take orally that causes the least digestive issues is Magnesium Glycinate (chelated magnesium). This specific type of magnesium provides the highest levels of absorption and bio-availability for those trying to correct a deficiency. It also has the least impact on your digestive tract, making it safer to take than other supplement forms.
- Topical: This is one of the best way to take a magnesium supplement, and is what I personally use at home. Not only is it quickly absorbed through your skin, but it’s also great for rubbing onto sore muscles or joint pain for instant relief. I use this high quality magnesium lotion, but you can also use a magnesium oil, which just happens to be great for making a natural spray deodorant.
- Magnesium Flakes: Another way to get a good dose of magnesium is by soaking in a warm tub with magnesium flakes. Combined with epsom salt, it’s a wonderful way to relax, soothe muscles, and get a good dose of magnesium. Just make sure you use warm water, not hot, as hot water will actually pull the minerals out of your body, and warm water will allow you to properly absorb them.
- Food & Diet: With our current state of agriculture, much of the soil has been depleted of magnesium, which means many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today don’t provide us with adequate amounts of minerals. We still want to eat mineral rich foods, but to do so we need to look for organic sources that come from high quality, mineral rich soil.
Here are some of the foods highest in magnesium:
Have you suffered from any of these symptoms? Do you take a magnesium supplement?