Magnesium Deficiency – Symptoms, Supplements & Foods

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Magnesium is a vital mineral that mediates several reactions in the cell. It is the fourth most common mineral in the body.

In this article, we will cover the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, then switch gears to a few types of magnesium. At the end, we will list magnesium-rich foods.

Magnesium Deficiency – Symptoms, Supplements & Foods

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

The diagnosis of magnesium requires two things:

  • A clinical presentation that suggests hypomagnesemia
  • Serum levels of magnesium below physiological levels

When you present to the doctor’s office with signs and symptoms that suggest magnesium deficiency, he/she will take your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and order a few blood tests.

What are these signs and symptoms? Here are a few:

1. Muscle twitching

A classic sign of magnesium deficiency is muscle twitching. Since magnesium plays a crucial role in the contraction of muscles, its deficiency messes things up. Tremors and cramps are also common. In severe cases, you may experience seizures.

According to researchers, when magnesium levels drop, calcium takes over and enters the neurons in great quantities. As a result, the cells get overstimulated, leading to muscle twitching.

Note that these signs are not exclusive to magnesium deficiency. Other situations, such as excessive consumption of caffeine or severe stress, may also cause muscle spasms. Additionally, certain medications can lead to muscle twitches, including those that treat neuromuscular diseases.

Typically, muscle twitches are self-limited. However, if your symptoms persist, you may want to see your general practitioner.

2. Mental disorders

The lack of emotions or apathy is one of the side effects caused by magnesium deficiency. If left untreated, magnesium deficiency can cause delirium and coma.

Moreover, some studies linked low levels of magnesium with depression. Researchers also found a connection between this condition and anxiety. However, the evidence for the latter is lacking.

In one review, researchers concluded that magnesium supplements can help people with anxiety.

In summary, magnesium deficiency causes nerve dysfunction and increases the risk of mental disorders.

3. Fragile bones

Osteoporosis is a condition that describes weak bones and an unusually high risk of bone fractures. There are numerous factors that promote osteoporosis, including:

  • Advanced age
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Deficiencies in vitamins D and K

Besides these factors, magnesium deficiency also plays a role in osteoporosis. Low levels of magnesium weaken the bones directly. This condition also depletes the blood from calcium, which is an indispensable mineral for the bones.

In one study conducted on rats, scientists found that low levels of magnesium reduce bone mass. Despite the lack of similar studies on humans, there is evidence that poor dietary intake of magnesium decreases bone mineral density.

4. Fatigue and muscle weakness

Feeling mentally and physically exhausted can be another symptom of magnesium deficiency.

While everyone feels tired occasionally, persistent feelings of fatigue may indicate a health problem. Also, if you feel severe fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest, you may want to consult with your doctor.

It’s important to remember that fatigue is quite nonspecific. In other words, it can be the result of a variety of conditions. For this reason, your doctor will take into consideration several factors before suggesting that you have magnesium deficiency. Clearly, the only way to confirm this diagnosis is by running blood tests.

Muscle weakness is another symptom of low magnesium levels. Once again, this symptom could result from other disorders.

5. High blood pressure

In a few animal studies, scientists demonstrated that magnesium deficiency can increase blood pressure. Of course, the latter is a risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, and other debilitating diseases.

Despite the lack of human research in this matter, a number of observational studies connected low magnesium levels with high blood pressure.

Note that observational studies provide weaker evidence compared to controlled clinical trials.

With that said, reviews concluded that magnesium supplementation can lower blood pressure. This shows that magnesium actually plays a role in blood pressure control.

In summary, having low levels of magnesium may lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of several diseases.

The different types of magnesium

1. Magnesium citrate

As the name suggests, this type of magnesium is bound to citric acid. You may have heard of this molecule before as it’s an integral part of citrus fruits.

This type of magnesium is one of the most common forms of supplement out there. The reason behind this is its high bioavailability. In other words, magnesium citrate is easily absorbed in the digestive tract.

2. Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is the result of magnesium combined with oxygen.

Naturally, you will find this type of magnesium in a white, powder substance. In the supplement form, however, you may also find it as a capsule.

Typically, magnesium oxide does not prevent nor treat magnesium deficiency. This is because it has very low bioavailability.

Therefore, you will see magnesium oxide as part of a remedy to treat digestive symptoms, including:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation

It may be also useful in preventing migraines.

3. Magnesium malate

Magnesium malate includes malic acid. The latter is abundant in wine and fruits. Malic acid tends to have a sour taste and is often used as a food additive.

According to a study, magnesium malate has a very high bioavailability, making it an attractive choice to treat magnesium deficiency.

Because it is relatively gentler on the digestive tract, many people prefer this type of magnesium.

In some cases of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, magnesium malate can be beneficial. However, the evidence to support these uses is still lacking.

4. Magnesium taurate

Magnesium taurate has the amino acid taurine. This combination is great at regulating blood sugar levels, which may help patients with diabetes and prediabetes. It also aids in the management of blood pressure.

In one study, researchers found that magnesium taurate lowers blood pressure in rats, which could mean that this form of magnesium has cardioprotective properties.

Which type of magnesium is the best?

As you can see from the list above, each type of magnesium has its own characteristics and benefits. For instance, magnesium taurate is good at helping with blood sugar, whereas magnesium citrate may be better at replenishing your stores.

But the most important aspect when choosing a magnesium supplement is to opt for the types with high bioavailability.

Fortunately, instead of choosing one specific type of magnesium, BiOptimizers conducted extensive research to come up with one formula that has 7 of the best types of magnesium!

Magnesium Breakthrough
Magnesium Breakthrough | 60 CAPS

Make sure to check out this product by clicking on this link.

On the following page, you’ll also discover the best way to take Magnesium and at what times during the day is optimal for proper absorption.

Foods Rich in Magnesium

There are several foods that contain decent amounts of magnesium. These include dark veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

Speak with your doctor about your risk of magnesium deficiency and whether you need to take dietary supplements to reverse it.

The table below will cover the best sources of magnesium:

SourcePer servingDaily value
Low-fat yogurt (8 oz)42 mg11%
Fortified breakfast cereals40 mg10%
Oatmeal, instant,
1 packet
36 mg9%
Peanut butter
(2 tablespoons)
49 mg12%
Whole wheat bread
(2 slices)
46 mg12%
Avocado (1 cup)44 mg11%
Oil roasted peanuts
(one-quarter cup)
63 mg16%
Soy milk (1 cup)61 mg15%
Cooked black beans
(half a cup)
60 mg15%
Canned kidney beans
(half a cup)
35 mg9%
Banana (1 medium)32 mg8%

Including some of these foods in your diet should replenish your magnesium stores. However, you may still need to get supplements, especially if you are severely deficient.

What are the benefits of taking magnesium?

1. Boosts physical performance

Magnesium is vital for muscle contraction and physical performance. When you are exercising, you will use 10–20% more magnesium relative to rest.

Additionally, magnesium improves the process of moving glucose in and outside the cell. Magnesium also gets rid of lactic acid, which may help in preventing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Several studies found that magnesium supplements optimize performance in elderly adults, people with health issues, and athletes.

Another study concluded that athletes who take magnesium supplements had better times during marathons and triathlons. The authors of the study analyzed the blood of participants and found that they had low levels of cortisol and insulin.

2. Optimizes mood

Magnesium is crucial for mood regulation and cognitive function.

According to research, magnesium deficiency increases the risk of depression. In one particular analysis, participants over the age of 65 were at great risk of mental disorders when they had low magnesium levels.

A few experts believe that the depression epidemic may be the result of low levels of magnesium in our modern diet.

The good news is that magnesium supplements can improve the symptoms of depression and help patients get back to their usual lifestyles.

In one randomized controlled trial, scientists gave participants 450 milligrams of magnesium every day. By the end of the study, the authors concluded that the effects of magnesium were similar to antidepressants.

3. Improves blood sugar levels

Magnesium helps in controlling blood glucose in diabetic patients.

Reports found that 48% of people with diabetes are deficient in magnesium. Consequently, they have even worse processing of glucose. Additionally, scientists showed that low magnesium boosts the risk of diabetes in otherwise healthy individuals.

According to one study, getting enough magnesium reduces the risk of diabetes by 47%. Another study concluded that magnesium optimizes blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels.

These findings are simply staggering! However, more research is necessary on human subjects before drawing any conclusions.

4. Reduces blood pressure

Aside from blood sugar, magnesium also regulates blood pressure.

Chronic blood hypertension is a very prevalent condition that damages all organ systems, including the cardiovascular systems. It is a complex disease with various risk factors and intertwined pathophysiology.

Magnesium can significantly improve blood pressure levels, which lowers the risk of complications. A 2009 study found that 450 mg of magnesium per day is enough to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

However, these benefits were only observed in hypertensive patients. Therefore, we still don’t understand the effects of magnesium on healthy individuals with normal blood pressure.

5. Dampens inflammation

Low-grade chronic inflammation is the hallmark of most debilitating diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Low levels of magnesium seem to contribute to chronic inflammation. In one study, scientists analyzed the serum of children who are deficient in magnesium. They found high levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), prostaglandins, and cytokines. Furthermore, the children had high insulin, blood glucose, and triglycerides.

Luckily, magnesium supplementation is effective at reversing these issues and lowering CRP and other inflammatory markers.

Note that magnesium-rich foods also dampen inflammation and lower the risk of disease (more on that next).

Takeaway message

Magnesium is an indispensable mineral that allows your cells to function properly. Low levels of magnesium lead to a variety of symptoms that could negatively impact your quality of life.

We hope that this article managed to highlight the significance of magnesium deficiency, as well as some of the foods that help with correcting this condition.

Before you take magnesium supplements, speak with your general practitioner or nutritionist about whether you actually need them.


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