If you’re like most Americans, your diet may not be magnesium-rich, and your lifestyle, genetics, and other factors may leave you with a low amount of magnesium — a mineral that’s crucial to our health. Why is that so important? Well, magnesium serves a myriad of purposes throughout the body. It’s an electrolyte, which keeps cells operating on a minute scale. Your body requires electrolytes to operate, and magnesium-based electrolytes play a crucial role in brain, nerve, eye, muscle, and immune system operation.
Beyond that, magnesium is a building block for various tissues throughout the body. Take the human bone, for example: Here, magnesium and calcium serve to make bones rigid and strong. Those suffering from low magnesium levels may weaken their bones to the point that they have osteoporosis.
Magnesium also aids in a number of other functions throughout the body, from assisting with acidity balancing in the stomach, to moderating blood pressure. In short, this element is one of many that cannot go overlooked in our diets. And it’s often the first thing you should check if you suspect if you’re suffering from one of any number of ailments. Let’s delve into maladies that a magnesium deficiency (or hypomagnesemia) can cause.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
While not all of the following signs may not be caused due to a magnesium deficiency, a deficiency may be the cause of the problem. If so, suitable levels of magnesium intake may help to mitigate or reverse the symptoms. Take note, you should seek advice from a doctor before changing your magnesium intake. It is possible to consume too much magnesium, and magnesium supplements may interact with certain medicines. Now, let’s take a look at some common signs of a magnesium deficiency…
- Osteoporosis: As I mentioned, magnesium is a building block for our bones, and it works alongside calcium to create strong bone tissue. A long-term deficit of magnesium can deplete bone strength, leading to issues like osteoporosis, while sufficient magnesium intake can improve bone strength or slow bone deterioration.
- Adrenal Fatigue: Your adrenal glands are tasked with releasing adrenaline when appropriate. However, without enough magnesium, which helps to calm the mind and slow adrenaline production, your adrenals may work overtime. Long-term adrenal fatigue can damage the adrenals while disrupting your body’s hormone balance.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Those with chronic fatigue syndrome may have insufficient magnesium levels. Upping your intake of magnesium may help to mitigate chronic fatigue and its symptoms.
- Asthma: Those who suffer from asthma often lack enough magnesium or a magnesium-rich diet, which can support respiratory health.
- Inflammation: Inflammation can occur more easily in those who are magnesium deficient. In this way, magnesium can have some anti-inflammatory properties.
- Headaches and Migraines: Those deficient in magnesium may suffer more headaches than others, since magnesium helps the body to relax seized blood vessels which can cause headaches and migraines. Sufficient magnesium levels help to keep blood flowing through the brain.
- Depression and Anxiety: Without enough magnesium, certain receptors in the brain may be over-excited, which can cause depression or anxiety. Magnesium helps to calm these receptors, which can diminish depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Memory Problems: Magnesium is a crucial proponent of proper brain function, and low magnesium levels in the body can result in poor memory, since new neural connections are less likely to form. The right amount of magnesium can aid neural growth and learning, while slowing cognitive decline.
- Poor Sleep: Those with insomnia may benefit from an increase in magnesium intake, which can calm the brain by aiding neural transmitters that trigger sleep.
- High Blood Pressure: A balanced diet with plenty of magnesium can help to lower blood pressure.
- Muscle Problems: Cramping, spasms, and numbness can occur if you are magnesium deficient. Since muscles rely on magnesium electrolytes, low magnesium can lead to cramps, spasms, and numbness, especially in women who may have menstruation-related cramps.
- Heart Issues: Those at risk of heart problems should take note that magnesium deficiency can cause the risk of heart disease to spike. Those with low magnesium levels contract heart disease 50 to 80 percent more often.
- Poor Thyroid Health: Those suffering from thyroid problems may have low magnesium levels, which can hinder the function of the thyroid gland.
Insulin Resistance: About half of Americans have a degree of insulin resistance, and those with diabetes have high insulin resistance which may be mitigated by proper magnesium intake. Magnesium helps the body to properly metabolize.
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Now that we know some of the indicators and signs of magnesium deficiency, we can better recognize deficiency symptoms to remedy poor levels of magnesium in the body, before long-term effects can occur. But, that begs the question, why are many Americans magnesium deficient in the first place? What causes magnesium deficiency? That are a number of factors that can lead to a deficiency, outlined below.
- Poor diet: If you aren’t consuming the right foods, you could be putting yourself at risk of a deficiency. Like any other mineral that the body relies on, you should seek out specific foods to ensure that you get your daily recommended intake. Seek out leafy greens, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, black beans, salmon, kefir, figs, and bananas to increase your intake of magnesium. You can also take a supplement if necessary.
- Gut problems: Problems like leaky gut can reduce the natural uptake of magnesium into the body, even if you’re consuming sufficient magnesium in your diet. Be wary that gut problems can reduce your magnesium levels to the point that you are deficient.
- Medications: Certain medications can flush magnesium out of the body. Ask your doctor about the medications you are taking if you’re concerned about low magnesium levels.
- Diuretics: Similarly, diuretics flush magnesium out of the body. If you drink lots of tea or coffee, for instance, then you may need to replenish your magnesium levels more often.
- Soil depletion: Our produce comes from soil that may be magnesium deficient to begin with. Consider increasing the variety of magnesium-rich foods in your diet to ensure that you get magnesium from various sources.
Create a Nutritional Plan for Your Health
If you suffer from any maladies or diseases that may be related to magnesium deficiency, then it may be time to address your diet and lifestyle. As a nutritionist, I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss your situation, and to create a healthy regimen to boost your magnesium intake. If you’d like to learn more about a personalized nutrition regimen for your health and wellness goals, I’d be ecstatic to talk with you — please reach out to me to learn more! Schedule a nutritional consultation today!