Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
agnesium is a very important mineral that plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzyme reactions that take place in your body including muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, etc. Not only does it support the immune system and in the production of cholesterol but it also helps the heart maintain a healthy rhythm. Dietary sources of magnesium include several plant and animal foods such as spinach, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, avocados, tofu, dark chocolate, fatty fish, and fortified cereals.
Health benefits of magnesium
It is an important mineral that plays a crucial role in several enzyme reactions, including the muscle and nerve function. Magnesium is also essential for bone and teeth structure.
Magnesium deficiency a.k.a. Hypomagnesemia
Magnesium deficiency occurs when an individual experiences an electrolyte disturbance during which there is a very low level of the mineral in the body. It can lead to multiple symptoms including tremor, poor coordination, loss of appetite, personality changes, etc.
What causes magnesium deficiency?
Low dietary intake of the mineral, alcohol consumption, diarrhea, increased loss of urine, diabetes mellitus, and poor absorption from the intestines could cause magnesium deficiency. Sometimes, it can also occur as a side effect of certain drugs like furosemide and proton pump inhibitors. Health conditions like celiac disease and hungry bone syndrome could also be at an increased risk of magnesium deficiency.
How is magnesium deficiency diagnosed?
It is typically based on low blood magnesium levels- less than 0.6 mmol/L. Sometimes, ECG changes might also indicate a magnesium deficiency.
Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency
- Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps
These are the typical signs that you have a magnesium deficiency. In the worst cases, it can also lead to convulsions or seizures in some people. A greater flow of calcium into the nerve cells will hyperstimulate the muscle nerves and cause twitching or tremor-like symptoms. But not all twitches might be due to magnesium deficiency. Involuntary muscle twitches can occur due to stress or increased caffeine intake also. Consult a doctor if your symptoms persist.
- Weakened Bones
Osteoporosis- characterized by weak bones and an elevated risk of bone fracture is a sign of magnesium deficiency. Although numerous factors like old age, lack of exercise, deficiencies of vitamin D and K can also cause osteoporosis, magnesium deficiency is a notable risk factor. Magnesium deficiency could weaken bones alongside lowering the blood calcium levels- which is the main building block of your bones. A 2009 study reported that a lower intake of magnesium resulted in lower bone mineral density.
Physical/mental exhaustion or weakness is another sign of magnesium deficiency. While it is very common for people to get fatigued from time to time, persistent fatigue might indicate a health condition. Since fatigue can be common to several health conditions, it is important to look for a few accompanying symptoms when it comes to magnesium deficiency. Experts believe that muscle weakness or myasthenia when experienced alongside fatigue could indicate a magnesium deficiency.
- Elevated Blood pressure levels
Magnesium deficiency could increase your blood pressure levels and lead to hypertension- a high-risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Several studies have reported that poor dietary intake or low magnesium levels in the blood could increase your blood pressure levels. Studies have also reported that magnesium supplements could lower blood pressure levels, especially in people diagnosed with hypertension.
- Severe asthma
In some cases, a magnesium deficiency could lead to severe asthma. Individuals suffering from asthma have recorded lower levels of magnesium compared to healthy people. Lack of magnesium might cause a buildup of calcium in the muscles lining the airways of your lungs and this could lead to constrictions that could result in breathing difficulties. Inhalers with magnesium sulfate have been prescribed for individuals suffering from asthma to help relax and expand their airways. Although there isn’t much direct evidence that dietary magnesium deficiency is associated with asthma, experts believe that severe asthma might be a symptom of magnesium deficiency in some people.
- Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat
This is one of the most serious symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Some people might experience heart palpitations or pauses between heartbeats. Experts believe that an imbalance of potassium levels, a condition associated with a magnesium deficiency might be blamed for this. In some cases, lower magnesium levels have been recorded in people with congestive heart failure and arrhythmia. Magnesium injections used to treat these people have significantly improved their heart function. Magnesium supplements can help reduce symptoms in arrhythmia patients.
- Mental health disorders
Magnesium deficiency could cause certain mental disorders including apathy (mental numbness or lack of emotion), delirium, and in worse cases, even coma. Low levels of magnesium have also been linked to an elevated risk of depression and anxiety. Studies have reported that magnesium supplements might help people suffering from anxiety disorders. Experts believe that magnesium deficiency could lead to nerve dysfunction and result in mental health issues in some individuals.
How is magnesium deficiency treated?
It can effectively be treated with oral or IV administration of the mineral. But it is very important to consume a well-balanced diet enriched with all necessary nutrients. People with underlying health conditions like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, etc should discuss with their healthcare providers to ensure that they do not develop magnesium deficiency because of their condition or the drugs that they have been taking.
Simple tips like adding nuts and seeds to your salads and yogurt, consuming fatty fish a couple of times every week, adding quinoa and spinach to your diet could help increase your magnesium intake.
How much magnesium should you consume?
For healthy adults, 320 mg to 420 mg of magnesium is required per day.
What should you not take alongside magnesium supplements?
Certain foods could block magnesium absorption. Dietary protein, carbohydrate, and fat can sometimes affect your magnesium balance. And some beverages containing phosphoric acid and aspartame could prevent magnesium absorption. Also, consuming large proportions of vitamin D, calcium and zinc could all lower magnesium absorption and lead to magnesium deficiency. That is why it is recommended that you take your vitamin D and/or calcium supplements a couple of hours apart from magnesium supplements.
Other ways to improve magnesium absorption include treating vitamin D deficiency, consuming raw vegetables (rather than cooked ones), and giving up smoking.