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 these 12 magnesium deficiency symptoms?
Chances are that you suffer from magnesium deficiency symptoms. Indeed, up to 89% of Americans are magnesium deficient.
Most people have no idea they are missing this critical micronutrient. Read on to find out if you may be suffering from magnesium deficiency symptoms.
Early in my career as a cardiologist, I worked with a 48 year old nurse from Wyoming who suffered from palpitations, anxiety, and weight gain. She was tired during the day and couldn’t sleep at night. She had seen many doctors and nothing seemed to help.
As part of her work up for palpitations, I put her on a 24-hour heart monitor (Holter monitor). The heart monitor showed frequent premature ventricular contractions (PVCs).
I also checked her lab work. Everything was normal, including her serum magnesium level. Fortunately, her stress echocardiogram was also normal so we didn’t have to worry about any other heart issues.
To help with her palpitations, I prescribed a beta-blocker medication. Unfortunately, beta-blockers only caused more fatigue and only marginally decreased her palpitations. What followed were a series of different medications, all with intolerable side effects.
Finally, I encouraged her to eat a high magnesium diet. I also prescribed magnesium supplements. Even though her serum magnesium level was “normal”, I was running out of options.
Miraculously, all of her symptoms went away. Not only were her palpitations gone, but her anxiety resolved, she had more energy and she was now sleeping at night. She even lost 10 pounds in the process.
Can you test for magnesium deficiency?
Unfortunately, there is no good test for magnesium deficiency. This is why it is so important to recognize the magnesium deficiency symptoms.
While it is easy to test for magnesium in your blood (serum magnesium levels), less than 1% of the magnesium in your body can be found in your blood. Thus, serum magnesium levels are a poor indicator of magnesium deficiency. Most of your magnesium is stored in your bones or your cells.
Who is at highest risk for magnesium deficiency?
If you are under a lot of stress you likely are not absorbing much magnesium from your food. If you drink filtered or bottled water, you are getting minimal magnesium in your water. If spinach and other green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are not on your plate every day, you probably suffer from magnesium deficiency symptoms.
If you are overweight, diabetic, or over age 60, you are probably magnesium deficient. Likewise, if you take diuretics, calcium supplements, or stomach acid blocking medications you are also probably deficient in magnesium.
Do you have these 12 magnesium deficiency symptoms?
Below are 12 of the most common magnesium deficiency symptoms. Chances are that you probably suffer from one of these 12 conditions.
1. Weight Gain or 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 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. To make matters worse, magnesium deficiency is an important 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.
For over 100 years now, magnesium deficiency has been associated with depression. It is also well known, that people with depression are more likely to eat a diet low in magnesium.
6. Dental Cavities or Osteoporosis
If you’ve had a lot of cavities, or been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you probably have magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has long been associated with dental cavities. Magnesium deficiency may also affect vitamin D metabolism and osteocalcin which play a key 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 has long been used as a 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 have been linked with magnesium deficiency. This mineral is critical to optimal cardiac function.
11. Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems are very common in the U.S. Research suggests that many thyroid issues can be traced back to a magnesium deficiency.
An often overlooked cause of cancer is magnesium deficiency. 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.
To make matters worse, the foods most often eaten in the U.S, namely wheat, dairy, meat, sugar, and other processed foods, do not contain much magnesium.
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 difficult 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?
In general, adults need about 400 mg of magnesium each day. Rather than trying to calculate the magnesium content of your food, just eat a heaping green salad each day. If your heaping salad includes plenty of spinach, seeds, nuts, or beans you are there. A heaping salad with the right toppings will get you 100% of the magnesium you need for the day. This is especially true if the seeds on top are pumpkin seeds.
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 an important reason why heart disease is very uncommon and people live to old ages free of chronic medical conditions.
How can you correct magnesium deficiency?
Let me give you five simple steps to correct magnesium deficiency.
1. Drink hard water.
2. Eat a heaping salad with spinach, nuts, seeds, and legumes daily.
3. Reduce Stress.
4. Talk with your doctor about magnesium supplements.
5. Talk with your doctor about diuretics, acid reducing medications, or calcium supplements.
Up to 89% of Americans suffer from magnesium deficiency. Chances are that you may already be suffering from one of magnesium deficiency symptoms.
Fortunately, magnesium deficiency is easy to correct. Talk with your doctor if you suspect that you have any of the above magnesium deficiency symptoms.
If you have any thoughts or experiences with magnesium deficiency, please leave your comments below. Also, if you have any questions about what you have just read, leave your questions in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer every question.
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.