Do you know that many of your health issues are actually caused by magnesium deficiency?
Do you feel exhausted?
Or you have muscle cramps?
Are you experiencing migraine and headaches often? Magnesium deficiency is sometimes called “invisible deficiency”.
The reason is simple, magnesium deficiency is hard to spot and diagnose since the mineral is responsible for more than 300 processes in our body and is part of 300 enzymes.
Nearly every process in our body requires magnesium.
Additionally, regular blood serum tests are inaccurate in detecting magnesium deficiency.
So, how important is magnesium for our body and how can you detect magnesium deficiency?
And most importantly, can you do something to improve your magnesium levels?
Table of Contents
Why is magnesium important?
Magnesium is regarded as the primary mineral for your bones and heart health.
However, the premise is misleading, as there are actually 3,751 magnesium-binding spots on the human body, which suggests that we are underestimating the value of magnesium for our overall health.
The mineral is responsible for more than 300 processes in our body, as it can be found in 300 different enzymes, playing a huge role in the detoxification process, and many other important health processes.
Some of the major roles that magnesium plays for our body is activate our nerves and muscles, provides our body with energy by activating ATP, helps with digestion process for fats, carbs and proteins, and serves as a building block for DNA and RNA synthesis.
When you have a magnesium deficiency, more than 20 diseases activate in your body.
A magnesium deficiency can trigger 22 areas, and those are: anxiety and panic attacks, asthma, blood clots, cystitis, depression, bowel diseases, diabetes, fatigue, detoxification, hypertension, heart disease, hypoglycemia, kidney diseases, liver diseases, insomnia, migraine, nerve problems, musculoskeletal conditions like cramps and back pain, osteoporosis, PMS and similar obstetrics, tooth decay, and Raynaud’s syndrome.
How much magnesium you need?
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, this is the recommended daily intake:
- Healthy male adults should consume between 400 and 420mg of magnesium per day
- Healthy female adults should consume between 310 and 320mg of magnesium per day
- Pregnant women require higher dose of magnesium per day
- If you consume supplemental magnesium, you should not ingest more than 350mg per day
- You can take higher than 350mg dosage only with medical supervision for prevention of migraine headaches
In the same way you can experience magnesium deficiency, you can overdose with the mineral. While hypermagnesemia is a rare condition, it can happen. Our kidneys work to get rid of excess magnesium. However, when our kidneys are not working properly due to kidney failure or kidney disease, we can overdose with magnesium. That is why people with kidney disease are cautioned against taking magnesium supplements. Signs of magnesium overdose include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, urine retention, and cardiac arrest.
We talked about the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, but there are also certain conditions that might occur due to clinically low serum magnesium.
Here are some of the chronic conditions that you will be susceptible for:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cluster headaches
- Sleep problems
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary artery disease
- Chest pain, angina
- Cardiac arrhythmias
How to check if you have a magnesium deficiency?
Most people check for magnesium deficiency by requesting blood serum testing.
Magnesium testing is part of blood serum testing.
However, the problem is that the blood serum test can be misleading.
The reason is simple, merely 1% of the total magnesium in our body is found in the blood, with only 0.3% found in blood serum.
Therefore, a blood serum test might not identify magnesium deficiency.
Questions to ask yourself
There are several products that if you take them on a regular basis, reduce the level of magnesium in your body.
For example, carbonated beverages bind with magnesium, therefore making the mineral unavailable for your body.
So, here are some questions to ask yourself.
If you answer YES to more than half of them, you need to reconsider your daily habits and lifestyle.
- Do you drink carbonated beverages regularly?
- Do you drink tea, coffee and similar drinks with caffeine every day?
- Do you drink more than 7 alcoholic beverages during one week?
- Do you eat candies, cakes and pastries and similar sweet foods with refined sugar?
- Do you take diuretic, asthma medication, heart medication, birth control pills or estrogen therapy?
- Have you experienced a lot of stress recently?
Early Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
We mentioned that magnesium deficiency is dubbed as invisible deficiency since it is hard to diagnose.
However, there are several early symptoms that indicate your body needs more minerals, especially magnesium.
Here are the early symptoms to watch for:
- High blood pressure
- Muscle Pain
- Leg cramps
- Type II Diabetes
- Persistent migraines
Sometimes, people lacking magnesium will also experience overall weakness, as well as loss of appetite and nausea.
These are all early symptoms and warning signs that are not as dangerous.
However, there are severe symptoms that indicate magnesium deficiency, when you are actually reaching critically low levels.
- Coronary spasms
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Numbness and tingling
- Mood and personality swings
- Muscle contractions
Why is magnesium deficiency so widespread?
We all know magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our overall health. So, with all that knowledge, how is it possible that nearly half of the population in America is not getting enough magnesium?
There are many reasons why the deficiency is so widespread in modern times. One of the main reasons is depleted soil conditions. This means that plants, and meat coming from animals that feed on plants are lower in magnesium.
Use of chemicals, think fluoride and chlorine in the water supply make magnesium less available in water. These chemicals bind to magnesium, and we are left with less for us.
Another reason is we have become addictive to caffeine and sugar. These two substances deplete our body’s magnesium levels.
And finally, there is stress. Nowadays, almost every other condition is caused by stress, and if you cannot find a way to manage it, stress will deplete your magnesium levels.
That being said, if you consume enough magnesium-rich foods, you should be fine.
What can you do?
As always, the cure is in your diet and lifestyle.
If you are experiencing some of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should start making changes in your diet.
Your body requires magnesium, as the mineral kick starts 300 enzymes in the body.
There are several sources for magnesium.
Let’s start with leafy greens, mostly kale, and spinach.
If you have repulsiveness towards fresh leafy greens, you can always mix them in a smoothie.
Next on the list are the nuts and seeds, with pumpkin seeds among the best sources in the group.
Beans and lentils are additional sources of magnesium, and the best part is, they are also great protein alternatives.
Soybeans, kidney beans and chickpeas, all of them will work.
When it comes to fruits, look for dried fruits such as apricots and prunes.
Last, but not least, stick to whole grains such as quinoa seeds and brown rice.
If your diet doesn’t help, you can always take some magnesium supplements.
Bear in mind, the best way to take magnesium supplements is in 1:1 ratio with calcium.
Foods high in magnesium
When you need an excuse to grab some chocolate, go for dark chocolate and say you need magnesium. This delicious chocolate packs 64mg in 1 ounce of serving. That is almost one fifth of the daily magnesium you need. And you get other minerals like iron, manganese, and copper.
Called superfood recently, avocado is incredibly nutritious fruit. One medium avocado contains 58mg of magnesium, or 15% of the RDI. Bear in mind most of us eat half an avocado per dish, it is not much, but it is still a welcomed addition.
The best snack you can get is some nuts. Several of them are high in magnesium, like cashews, Brazil nuts, and almonds. They are also high in monounsaturated fat, which improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
A family of nutrient dense plants, you can include any of them in your daily menu. Be it lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, or soybeans, all legumes are high in magnesium and other minerals. Additionally, legumes pack a high amount of fiber, which vastly improves your digestion.
Nuts and seeds, you will read this in almost every healthy diet. Seeds are also healthy, and contain a high amount of minerals. If you want good magnesium source, go for pumpkin seeds. They pack 150mg in 1oz of serving. That is one third of the daily recommended intake.
When you want to up your magnesium consumption, switch to whole grains. These include buckwheat, quinoa, and others. These are also high in protein, making them great for vegetarians and vegans.
We all know fatty fish is incredibly nutritious. We consume fish due to omega-3 fatty acids. But they are also high in magnesium. For example, half a fillet of salmon packs 53mg of magnesium, and 39g of high-quality protein. Add in the potassium, selenium, and other vitamins and minerals, and you should eat a fish at least twice per week.
Best known for their potassium content, bananas also pack a healthy dose of magnesium. One large banana, for example, packs 37mg of magnesium. That is 10% of the RDI, which is quite enough. Eating two bananas per day is fairly easy and cheap, and will vastly improve your health.
Probably the healthiest vegetables out there, these are loaded with magnesium. You can choose any of the kale, spinach, turnip greens, or collard greens. Spinach is on the top of the list, as it packs 160mg of magnesium per one cup cooked.