Dr. Day is a cardiologist and Medical Director of Heart Rhythm Services at his practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at Stanford University. He is board certified in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology.
Do you have any of these 12 magnesium deficiency symptoms?
You probably have no idea that you are currently suffering from magnesium deficiency. Indeed, studies show that up to 89% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Read on to see if you have any of these 12 magnesium deficiency symptoms.
Jill was a 45-year-old woman suffering from a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation. It made no sense why someone so young should develop this heart condition as she didn’t have any of the usual atrial fibrillation risk factors.
The only tip-off as to the cause of her atrial fibrillation was that she was taking Prilosec for acid reflux, Lasix occasionally for leg swelling, and she was eating the “Standard American Diet.” Even though her magnesium levels came back normal on her blood test, I suspected a magnesium deficiency as the cause of her heart problem.
Interestingly, once I convinced her to replace all added sugars and processed foods with real foods which included a massive salad every day, she immediately lost 20 pounds without even trying. In no time at all her acid reflux was gone and she was off the Prilosec. Also, with no added sugars or processed foods, her legs no longer swelled so there was no further need of diuretics.
Best of all, she felt better than she had ever felt and her atrial fibrillation went away. As she made many lifestyle changes, it was impossible to know what exactly drove her atrial fibrillation into remission.
However, in my mind, I’m sure replacing her magnesium stores played a role. Continue reading to figure out how she boosted her magnesium stores.
Can you test for magnesium deficiency?
While you can test for magnesium deficiency, you probably don’t want the test your doctor orders. The reason for this is because the standard magnesium test only measures the magnesium in your blood.
As 99% of your magnesium is not freely floating around in your blood but rather is inside of your cells and bones, you need a better test for magnesium deficiency. Of the various ways to test for magnesium deficiency, probably the best is the RBC magnesium test. The RBC magnesium test measures the amount of magnesium inside of your red blood cells.
Who is at risk for magnesium deficiency?
Many things contribute to magnesium deficiency. For example, if you are under a lot of stress, you likely are not absorbing much magnesium from your food. Those who love drinking filtered or bottled water also aren’t getting much magnesium. And processed foods are notorious for being completely absent of magnesium.
Other conditions contributing to magnesium deficiency include being overweight, diabetic, or over age 60. Likewise, many prescription medications like diuretics or acid-blocking medications are also keeping your magnesium levels dangerously low.
Do you have any of these 12 magnesium deficiency symptoms?
1. Weight Gain/Diabetes
When you don’t get enough magnesium in your food and water, it can cause glucose and insulin levels to rise. When insulin levels are high, you may suffer from food cravings. Unfortunately, these food cravings are generally for sugar or processed carbohydrates which lead to further weight gain.
2. Fatigue and Muscle Weakness
Magnesium is a critical component of energy production in the body. In fact, the body’s energy molecule, ATP, is created through magnesium dependent chemical reactions.
If you are tired all the time, you are probably magnesium deficient. Likewise, if your muscles are weak, you may also not be getting enough magnesium.
People under high levels of mental or physical stress, poorly absorb magnesium from the gastrointestinal tract. Contributing to a downward spiral, magnesium deficiency is a significant cause of anxiety. Fortunately, studies show that restoring the magnesium may help in the treatment of anxiety.
Having enough magnesium balances out your stress hormones. Magnesium also helps the body maintain sufficient melatonin and other sleep hormones. Indeed, magnesium supplementation has been shown to help with sleep.
Magnesium deficiency and depression go hand in hand. Low magnesium stores lead to depression and people suffering from depression are more likely to eat a diet low in magnesium.
6. Dental Cavities or Osteoporosis
Dental cavities and osteoporosis are two more signs of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium affects vitamin D metabolism and osteocalcin which play a vital role in bone turnover and formation.
Ironically, if you are taking calcium supplements for osteoporosis, you may be making matters worse. Calcium supplementation can throw off your calcium/magnesium balance.
If you suffer from constipation you probably are magnesium deficient. Magnesium in any form is an excellent laxative.
8. Muscle Cramps or Migraine Headaches
Do you suffer from leg cramps, eye twitches, or muscle spasms? Do you get frequent headaches? These may all be magnesium deficiency symptoms.
9. Inflammation, Arthritis, or Autoimmune Diseases
If you suffer from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases, you may be magnesium deficient. Studies have linked magnesium deficiency to arthritis and elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) blood tests.
10. Palpitations, Heart Attacks, Heart Failure, or Cardiac Arrest
Most forms of heart disease are linked to magnesium deficiency. This mineral is critical to optimal cardiac function.
11. Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems are widespread in the U.S. Research suggests that many thyroid issues may be due to magnesium deficiency.
Cancer may be a wake-up call that magnesium levels are low. Magnesium is a critical nutrient for many DNA repair mechanisms. As new cancer cells are created every day in your body, you need your DNA repair mechanism functioning optimally.
Magnesium in Our Water
Our ancestors used to get large amounts of magnesium just from their drinking water. Mountain spring water is naturally high in magnesium. Unfortunately, many municipalities remove magnesium as part of their water treatment process.
If you want to see how much magnesium is in your drinking water, click here. In general, the “harder” your water, the more magnesium you are getting.
Interestingly, drinking hard water may lower your risk of heart disease. If you happen to live in a city with naturally hard water, you can get up to 30% of the magnesium you need each day from water.
Unfortunately, water softeners, water filters, reverse osmosis devices, and bottled water are generally all depleted of magnesium. If you drink any of these magnesium depleted water types, you have to get 100% of your magnesium from food.
Magnesium in Our Food
Once upon a time, our soil contained much more magnesium. Unfortunately, modern agriculture has stripped this essential mineral from the ground. Processed foods are even worse when it comes to magnesium content.
Fortunately, organically grown produce has been shown to have up to 29% more magnesium. To get enough magnesium in your diet, make sure you eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, nuts, seeds, and legumes every day. To see a breakdown of which foods contain the most magnesium click here.
Can you get too much magnesium?
In general, it is very tough to get too much magnesium from your food and water unless you have kidney disease. Certainly, it is possible to get too much magnesium if you are taking supplements.
How much magnesium do you need each day?
The recommended daily amount of magnesium varies depending on your gender and age. Assuming there are no problems with magnesium absorption, you need about 400 mg of magnesium each day. If you can get at least 400 mg of magnesium daily from your water and food, you can start to enjoy the health benefits of magnesium.
Magnesium in China’s Longevity Village
As you know, we have been studying the residents of China’s Longevity Village for many years. We have found that these people do not suffer from magnesium deficiency symptoms.
The mountain spring water they drink is extremely hard and packed full of essential minerals. Researchers suggest that these people get up to 50% of their magnesium just from the water.
Also, modern agriculture has yet to put a stake in the ground in this rural area of China. Thus, the soil is extremely high in magnesium and other minerals.
Their diet, which is very high in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans, only further augments the magnesium they are getting every day. We suspect that the magnesium in their food and water may be a major reason why heart disease is very uncommon, and people live to old ages free of chronic medical conditions.
To learn more about why China’s Longevity Village has the highest known concentration of centenarians in the world, please be sure to pick up a copy of our new book, The Longevity Plan.
How can you correct magnesium deficiency?
Let me give you five simple steps to correct magnesium deficiency.
1. Drink hard or mineral water.
2. Eat a heaping salad with spinach, nuts, seeds, and legumes daily.
3. Embrace the stress in your life.
4. Talk with your doctor about magnesium supplements.
5. Talk with your doctor about medications that may be contributing to your magnesium deficiency like diuretics, acid reducing medications, or calcium supplements.
As 89% of Americans are magnesium deficient, there is a high likelihood that you may be one of them. Fortunately, magnesium deficiency is easy to correct.
I know I used to be one of these people. Before my health transformation, I required Prilosec daily for acid reflux, ate the Standard American Diet, and was always stressed. These three things alone probably put me also into a state of magnesium deficiency.
Now, in addition to eating a diet very high in magnesium, I have found that taking a magnesium supplement before bed helps me to sleep. Indeed, medical studies show that magnesium supplementation is an effective treatment for insomnia.
If you suspect you may have a magnesium deficiency as well, correct anything that can be fixed to boost your magnesium stores. Also, speak with your physician about whether a magnesium supplement might be right for you.
If you enjoyed this article, please be sure to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and podcast. Also, to learn the secret to fantastic health at any age, please be sure to read our new book, The Longevity Plan.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.