Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency – Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is an often-overlooked health problem. In some cases, the deficiency can go undiagnosed because obvious signs usually don’t appear until your levels become very low. The causes of magnesium deficiency vary. They range from insufficient dietary intake to loss of magnesium in the body. Health problems associated with magnesium loss include diabetes, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, celiac disease, and hungry bone syndrome. Alcoholics are also at increased risk.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Below is a list of 7 symptoms of magnesium deficiency and what foods are rich in magnesium.
- Muscle twitches and cramps
Twitching, tremors, and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency. In the worst case, the deficiency can even lead to seizures or convulsions.
Scientists believe these symptoms are caused by a flood of calcium influx into nerve cells, which can over-excite or over-stimulate muscle nerves.
While supplements may help relieve muscle twitching and cramping in people with a deficiency, magnesium supplements are not an effective treatment for muscle spasms in older adults.
Keep in mind that involuntary muscle twitches can have many other causes. For example, stress or too much caffeine can cause them.
They can also be a side effect of certain medications or symptoms of neurological disorders, such as neuromuscular rigidity or motor neuron disease.
While occasional twitching is normal, you should see your doctor if your symptoms persist.
Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitching, tremors, and cramps. However, supplements are unlikely to alleviate these symptoms in older adults or people who are not nutritionally deficient.
- Mental health disorders
Mental health disorders are another possible consequence of magnesium deficiency. These include apathy, which is characterized by mental numbness or lack of emotion. Severe deficiency may even lead to delirium and coma.
Additionally, observational studies suggest that low magnesium levels increase the risk of depression. All in all, it appears that magnesium deficiency may lead to neurological dysfunction and promote mental health conditions in some people.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weak bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Many factors affect the risk of developing osteoporosis. These include:
lack of exercise
Insufficient dietary intake of vitamins D and K.
Interestingly, magnesium deficiency is also a risk factor for osteoporosis. Deficiencies may directly weaken bones, but also lower blood levels of calcium, a major component of bones. Dietary magnesium consumption can lead to decreased bone mass. Although there have been no such experiments involving humans, studies have shown that insufficient magnesium intake is associated with lower bone mineral density.
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
Fatigue, a disorder characterized by physical or mental exhaustion or weakness, is another symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Remember, everyone gets tired from time to time. Usually, it just means you need a break. However, severe or persistent fatigue can be a sign of a health problem.
Because fatigue is a nonspecific symptom, its cause cannot be determined unless it is accompanied by other symptoms.
Another more specific sign of magnesium deficiency is muscle weakness, also known as myasthenia. This weakness is caused by a loss of potassium in muscle cells, a condition linked to magnesium deficiency. Therefore, magnesium deficiency is one of the possible causes of fatigue or weakness.
Magnesium deficiency may cause fatigue or muscle weakness. However, these are not specific signs of deficiency unless they are accompanied by other symptoms.
Magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure and promote high blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease. Research suggests that low magnesium levels or poor dietary intake may lead to increased blood pressure. Magnesium supplements might lower blood pressure, especially in adults with high blood pressure.
In short, magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
There is some evidence that magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure. Additionally, supplements may benefit people with high blood pressure.
Magnesium deficiency sometimes occurs in people with severe asthma. Also, people with asthma tend to have lower magnesium levels than people without asthma.
A lack of magnesium may lead to the accumulation of calcium in the muscles lining the airways of the lungs. This causes the airways to constrict, making breathing more difficult.
Interestingly, inhalers containing magnesium sulfate are sometimes given to people with severe asthma to help relax and dilate the airways. For those with life-threatening symptoms, injections are the preferred method. However, the evidence that dietary magnesium supplements are effective in people with asthma is inconsistent.
In short, scientists believe severe asthma may be a symptom of magnesium deficiency in some people, but further research is needed to investigate its role.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to severe asthma. However, its role in asthma development is not fully understood.
- Irregular heartbeat
Arrhythmia is one of the most severe symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In most cases, the symptoms of arrhythmia are mild. Usually, it has no symptoms at all. However, in some people, it can cause palpitations and pauses between heartbeats.
Other possible arrhythmia symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
In the most severe cases, cardiac arrhythmias may increase the risk of stroke or heart failure.
An imbalance in potassium levels inside and outside the heart muscle cells may be the culprit, a condition associated with magnesium deficiency.
Some people with congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias have been shown to have lower magnesium levels than those without the condition.
People treated with magnesium injections significantly improved their heart function.
Magnesium supplements may also help reduce symptoms in some people with cardiac arrhythmias.
One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, which may increase the risk of more serious complications, such as stroke or heart failure.
How to Get Enough Magnesium
The table below shows the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI) for men and women.
|Birth to 6 months||30 mg*||30 mg*|
|7-12 months||75 mg*||75 mg*|
|1-3 years||80 mg||80 mg|
|4-8 years||130 mg||130 mg|
|9-13 years||240 mg||240 mg|
|14-18 years||410 mg||360 mg||400 mg||360 mg|
|19-30 years||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|31-50 years||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
|Over 51||420 mg||320 mg|
While many people don’t meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium, there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods to choose from.
It is widely found in foods of plant and animal origin. The richest sources are seeds and nuts, but whole grains, legumes, and green leafy vegetables are also relatively rich sources.
Here are 100 grams of magnesium in some of the best sources:
Almonds: 286 mg
Pumpkin seeds: 535 mg
Dark Chocolate: 152 mg
Peanuts: 168 mg
Popcorn: 144 mg
For example, 28.4 grams of almonds provide 20% of the RDA for magnesium.
Other great sources of magnesium include:
Magnesium is also added to many breakfast bowls of cereal and other processed foods.
If you have a medical condition that causes your body to lose magnesium, such as diabetes, it’s essential to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods or take supplements.
10 Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral. It’s involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body that help keep you healthy, but many people don’t meet the 400 mg Reference Daily Intake (RDI). However, you can easily meet your daily needs by eating foods rich in magnesium.
Here are 10 healthy foods rich in magnesium.
- Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is delicious and healthy. It’s very rich in magnesium, with 64 mg per 28-gram serving—16 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Dark chocolate is also rich in iron, copper, and manganese, and contains prebiotic fiber, which provides nutrients to your healthy gut bacteria. What’s more, it’s rich in beneficial antioxidants. These are nutrients that neutralize free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage your cells and cause disease.
Dark chocolate is especially good for heart health because it contains flavanols, powerful antioxidant compounds that prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to cells lining arteries.
To get the most out of dark chocolate, choose a product with at least 70% cocoa solids.
Summary A 28-gram serving of dark chocolate provides 16% of the RDA for magnesium. It also benefits gut and heart health and is rich in antioxidants.
Related: What Foods To Eat With Magnesium Deficiency
Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit and a delicious source of magnesium. A medium-sized avocado provides 58 mg of magnesium, which is 15 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Avocados are also rich in potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin K. Unlike most fruits, they’re high in fat — especially heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Additionally, avocados are an excellent source of fiber. 13 grams of the 17 grams of carbohydrates in avocados come from fiber, so they are very low in digestible carbohydrates.
Studies have shown that eating avocados can reduce inflammation, raise cholesterol levels, and increase feelings of fullness after meals.
Summary A medium avocado provides 15% of the RDA for magnesium. Avocados fight inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, increase satiety, and are rich in several other nutrients.
Nuts are nutritious and delicious.
Types of nuts that are particularly high in magnesium include almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts.
For example, a 28-gram serving of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, or 20 percent of the recommended daily value.
Most nuts are also a good source of fiber and monounsaturated fat and have been shown to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.
Brazil nuts are also very high in selenium. Just two Brazil nuts provide over 100% of the RDA for this mineral.
In addition, nuts are anti-inflammatory, good for heart health, and can reduce appetite when eaten as a snack.
Summary Cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts are high in magnesium. One serving of cashews provides 20% of the recommended daily intake.
Legumes are a nutrient-dense plant family that includes lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans. They are rich in many different nutrients, including magnesium.
For example, a 1-cup serving of cooked black beans contains an impressive 120 mg of magnesium, or 30 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Beans are also high in potassium and iron and are a major source of protein for vegetarians.
Because beans are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index (GI), they can lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar control, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A fermented soy product called natto is thought to be an excellent source of vitamin K2, which is important for bone health.
Tofu is a staple for vegetarians because of its high protein content. It is made by pressing soy milk into a soft white curd, also known as tofu.
A 100-gram serving contains 53 mg of magnesium, which is 13% of the recommended daily intake. One serving also provides 10 grams of protein and 10% or more of the RDA for calcium, iron, manganese, and selenium. In addition, studies have shown that eating tofu can protect the cells in the arteries and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
Summary One serving of tofu provides 13% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. It is also a good source of protein and several other nutrients.
Seeds are very healthy. Many — including flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds — contain high amounts of magnesium.
Pumpkin seeds are an especially good source, with 150 mg per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. This is equivalent to 37% of the recommended daily intake.
In addition, seeds are rich in iron, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, they are extremely high in fiber. Almost all carbohydrates in seeds come from fiber. They also contain antioxidants that protect your cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolism. Flaxseed has also been shown to lower cholesterol and may be beneficial for breast cancer.
Summary Most seeds are rich in magnesium. A 28-gram serving of pumpkin seeds contains a staggering 37% of the RDA.
- Whole grains
Grains include wheat, oats, and barley, as well as pseudo-grains such as buckwheat and quinoa. Whole grains are an excellent source of many nutrients, including magnesium.
A 28-gram serving of dried buckwheat contains 65 mg of magnesium, which is 16% of the RDA. Many whole grains are also high in B vitamins, selenium, manganese, and fiber. Whole grains have been shown to reduce inflammation and reduce heart disease risk.
Pseudograins like buckwheat and quinoa are higher in protein and antioxidants than traditional grains like corn and wheat. What’s more, they’re gluten-free, so people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can also enjoy them.
Summary Whole grains are rich in a variety of nutrients. A 28-gram serving of dried buckwheat provides 16% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.
- Fatty fish
Fish, especially fatty fish, are rich in nutrients. Many types of fish are rich in magnesium, including salmon, mackerel, and halibut.
Half a salmon fillet (178 grams) contains 53 mg of magnesium, which is 13% of the RDA. It also provides an impressive 39 grams of high-quality protein. In addition, fish is also rich in potassium, selenium, B vitamins, and other nutrients. High-fat fish intake has been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, especially heart disease. These benefits are attributed to high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Summary Fatty fish is nutrient-dense and a great source of magnesium and other nutrients. Half a salmon fillet provides 13% of the RDA for magnesium.
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits. They are known for being high in potassium, which can lower blood pressure and has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
But they’re also high in magnesium — a large banana has 37 milligrams or 9 percent of the recommended daily value.
In addition, bananas provide vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber. Ripe bananas are higher in sugar and carbohydrates than most other fruits, so they may not be suitable for people with diabetes.
However, most of the carbohydrates in unripe bananas are resistant to starch and are not digested and absorbed. Resistant starch can lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
Summary Bananas are a good source of many nutrients. One large banana contains 9% of the RDA for magnesium.
- Leafy greens
Green leafy vegetables are very healthy and many are rich in magnesium. Vegetables high in magnesium include kale, spinach, t
For example, a 1-cup serving of cooked spinach contains 157 mg of magnesium, or 39 percent of the recommended daily value. Plus, they’re an excellent source of many nutrients, including iron, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K. Leafy greens also contain many beneficial plant compounds that help protect your cells from damage and may reduce your risk of cancer.
Magnesium deficiency is a common health problem. Research shows that 75% of people do not meet their dietary needs for magnesium. However, there are far fewer real defects—less than 2 percent, according to one estimate. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually subtle unless your levels become very low.
Deficiency can lead to:
If you think you may have a magnesium deficiency, your suspicion can be confirmed with a simple blood test. You should speak with your doctor to rule out other possible health problems. Regardless of the outcome, try to eat plenty of magnesium-rich whole foods regularly, such as nuts, seeds, grains, or legumes. These foods are also rich in other healthy nutrients. Including them in your diet can not only reduce the risk of magnesium deficiency but also support your overall health.