Magnesium is an essential mineral for human health and is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. The mineral plays a role in everything from energy production to protein synthesis and hormone regulation. While most people get enough magnesium from their diet, some do not. True magnesium deficiency can cause various acute and chronic health problems, including diabetes, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, and heart disease. Here are ten signs of how to know if you’re deficient —and what to do about it.
How to Know if You’re Deficient
- Mental Health Issues
Problems associated with a lack of magnesium in the diet can extend to your mental health. Numbness, lack of emotions, and in the worst-case scenario, coma or delirium are among the mental health disorders that possibly result from insufficient magnesium. Some studies also link an increased risk of depression to low magnesium in the body.
- Muscle Cramps and Twitches
Magnesium deficiency can cause your muscles to weaken, stiffen and twitch. Magnesium has a lot to do with your muscle fibers, such as synthesizing proteins and controlling their movements. Without it, spasms occur frequently, and workouts or other activities become laborious.
- Irregular Heart Rhythm
Magnesium helps transport potassium and calcium, among other electrolytes, into cells, which in turn aid with healthy heart muscle contractions. Lack of enough magnesium can throw your heartbeat all over the place. Irregular heartbeat is a severe consequence that can lead to stroke, and heart failure should not be taken lightly. It is a likely symptom of potassium imbalance caused by insufficient magnesium.
There are a thousand and one reasons to feel gassed out, such as a stressful job, but your diet is at the center of things. An important role that magnesium plays is to help convert the snacks and meals you take into energy that you need for your everyday living. Without magnesium, your body cannot synthesize enough energy for activities.
Weak bones are primarily associated with old age, but other contributory factors include poor diet and lack of exercise. A consistently low magnesium diet is a risk factor for weak and brittle bones. Lack of magnesium affects the amount of calcium in your blood, a vital ingredient in your bones. Animal studies have shown increased loss of bone mass following the depletion of dietary magnesium.
Low bowel movement can also mean that you’re not taking sufficient magnesium in your diet. Most of the high-magnesium foods are also fiber-rich. That means you may be skipping your veggies more than you should, which is why you’re having trouble with the digestive system.
Some scientists believe a strong link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety exists. More direct evidence is needed. One review has recommended magnesium supplements to a group of people with anxiety disorders. This means lack of magnesium can affect mental health.
- Difficulty Sleeping
Insufficient magnesium in your diet can leave you feeling tired; however, that doesn’t translate to a goodnight’s sleep. Many studies link magnesium intake with a long and enjoyable sleep, thanks to GABA, a neurotransmitter. GABA eases your mind into sleep by slowing down your thinking. The string of the racing thoughts you experience could be from the little magnesium you are getting.
People living with severe asthma have been seen to have one thing in common; magnesium deficiency. Research has shown that people with asthma tend to have lower magnesium levels than those without. The speculation is that low magnesium leads to calcium buildup in the lung’s airway muscular lining. This constricts the airways, which makes breathing more difficult. People with severe asthma are prescribed a magnesium sulfate inhaler to relax and expand the airways. Therefore, some scientists believe that asthma is a significant symptom of magnesium deficiency.
- High Blood Pressure
Your body needs magnesium to control blood pressure. Magnesium and cardiovascular health go hand in hand, helping regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and insulin levels. The mineral also helps fight against inflammation.
What to do About Low Magnesium in Your Body
There are a couple of ways to do this, including eating more magnesium-rich food or supplementation. There are various forms of dietary magnesium supplements that your body absorbs quickly, such as magnesium chloride, magnesium lactate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium aspartate.
Excellent sources of magnesium include:
- Chia seeds
- Cashew nuts
- Dark chocolate
If you experience any of these signs, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you need to increase your magnesium intake. Don’t self-diagnose and prescribe medication.