It is estimated that up to 80 percent of adults are not getting enough magnesium and therefore may have a magnesium deficiency. In this article, we will cover some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency as well as some simple ways to increase magnesium levels in your body.
Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth and the third most plentiful in seawater. In the human body, it is the fourth most abundant mineral and is involved in over 300 reactions.
Magnesium is important in so many of the body’s regulatory and biochemical systems that deficiencies can be extremely detrimental to overall health. Magnesium is used by every organ in our body, especially our heart, muscles, and kidneys.
Although there are blood tests available to assess for magnesium status, these can be notoriously unreliable. Serum blood can be used to measure magnesium status but the body has a mechanism to keep blood magnesium levels within normal ranges. If blood levels drop, our body removes magnesium from tissues to prop up levels in the blood. This makes it look like our levels are normal, but in fact, our tissues (e.g., heart, lungs, kidneys) may have insufficient levels.
The alternative is to consider signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency to predict your magnesium status.
Here are 10 signs of magnesium deficiency:
- Unexplained fatigue or weakness
- Abnormal heart rhythms, heart “flutters” or palpitations
- Muscle soreness or spasms
- Eye twitches
- Anxiety, depression, or restlessness
- Inability to sleep or insomnia
- Infertility or PMS
- Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
- Thyroid problems
Simple Ways to Increase Magnesium Levels:
- Eat foods high in magnesium. For example, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate.
- Limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol intake. These compounds can deplete magnesium levels.
- Learn ways to manage stress. High-stress levels are another way to deplete magnesium.
- Improve gut health. We absorb magnesium from the foods we eat so it is essential that you have good digestion to help break down and absorb magnesium from food. Probiotics and prebiotics are good ways to improve gut health. Interestingly, there is also research showing the importance of magnesium to gut health. Mice fed a diet low in magnesium had poorer gut flora than those on a diet high in magnesium. Click here to read a summary of the research and how it potentially affects mood.
- Supplement with a high-quality, well-absorbed form of magnesium. If you are low in magnesium, then taking a magnesium supplement is essential to help restore levels quickly. However, some forms of magnesium are poorly absorbed (e.g., magnesium oxide). It is best to use magnesium supplements containing magnesium glycinate, a highly bioavailable form of magnesium (plus other nutrients to reduce stress and support healthy sleep).