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12 Symptoms & Signs of Low Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency might be common than you expect. Recognizing the symptoms caused by low magnesium can alert you to an improved diet or other health measures.

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Magnesium deficiency is much more common than you might expect. A deficiency may be the underlying cause of some unexpected signs and symptoms.

Learning to recognize the symptoms caused by low magnesium can alert you to an improved diet or other health measures.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an important mineral required for normal daily function of your body's systems. Some of the few functions magnesium is used for involve:

• Protein synthesis

• Muscle and nerve function

• Blood glucose control

• Blood pressure regulation

• Balance and transport of calcium and potassium

Magnesium is naturally sourced from a wide variety of foods, including:

• Leafy greens

• Avocados

• Whole grains

• Dark chocolate

• Almonds

• Black beans

• Yogurt

• Bananas

• Pumpkin seeds

Causes of Low Magnesium

Although magnesium is abundant in various foods, a deficiency can be seen in people who rarely consume these foods.

In addition, low levels of magnesium may be secondary to:

• Malabsorption disorders, including Crohn's and celiac diseases

• Excessive alcohol intake, especially coupled with poor dietary intake

• Chronic diuretic use, which increases urinary magnesium loss; parathyroid diseases, subsequently altering magnesium excretion

• Burns, which causes excessive dermal loss of the mineral

No matter the cause of low magnesium, people are likely to symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

12 Symptoms and Signs of Low Magnesium

From fatigue to high blood pressure, a lack of magnesium can lead to a number of signs and symptoms.

1. Fatigue

Magnesium is involved in at least 300 chemical reactions in the body, including energy production.

So, it makes sense that people with low magnesium can feel an overall sense of fatigue with low energy. Loss of appetite may be present as well.

2. Headaches

Headaches and migraines, in particular, are common complaints in people with low magnesium.

What's more, evidence shows that magnesium supplementation may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.

3. Muscle Cramps & Twitches

Magnesium plays a significant role in muscle and nerve function.

Low magnesium levels may lead to frequently experienced symptoms including muscle weakness, twitches, tremors, pain, and cramps.

4. Seizures

Seizures occur when nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness.

Magnesium depletion causes irritability of the central nervous system and can result in epileptic seizures in severe cases.

5. Changes in Mental Status

People with low magnesium levels may exhibit depressive symptoms, mental confusion, irritability, personality changes, and even hallucinations.

Magnesium supplementation can be used to treat major depression in select patients. It is associated with a subjective decrease in anxiety, too.

6. High Blood Pressure

Magnesium has direct and indirect effects on the regulation of blood pressure. And a magnesium deficiency can result in high blood pressure, medically known as hypertension.

It may ironically worsen with some medications used to treat hypertension, such as thiazide diuretics, which deplete magnesium.

Supplementing with magnesium can be used to treat some patients with hypertension.

7. Irregular Heartbeats

Also known as arrhythmia, irregular heartbeats are among the most serious sequelae of a magnesium deficiency. Patients with an abnormal heart rhythm may experience lightheadedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fainting.

Cardiac arrhythmias may increase the risk of stroke or heart failure. Therefore, patients diagnosed with this condition are frequently placed on medication.

However, magnesium may be helpful for preventing and treating certain heart conditions.

8. Coronary Artery Spasm

Decreased magnesium is one of the most recognized causes of coronary artery spasm, a sudden tightening of an artery. When this occurs, the arteries narrow and prevent blood from flowing to the heart.

If experiencing chest pain, head to the ER as soon as possible. Besides, a potential heart attack or other catastrophic health condition is at risk.

But, if diagnostic testing concludes your diagnosis is coronary artery spasm, inquire about a blood test to measure magnesium levels.

9. Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is when the body is unable to use glucose as energy following carb intake. This is mostly related to the absence or resistance of insulin.

There are two types of diabetes, including types 1 and 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s own immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin. Blood sugars rise mostly related to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 90 percent of all cases.

Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes can be delayed in progression and delayed. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and managed with lifestyle factors such as diet.

Low serum magnesium is a strong, independent predictor of type 2 diabetes. The connection is likely related to magnesium's role in carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar regulation. Magnesium deficiency is likewise associated with insulin resistance in obese children.

10. Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of concurrent conditions, including excess body fat around the waist, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. The syndrome is a serious condition that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is mostly the result of lifestyle choices, especially physical activity and a poor diet. Evidence shows that magnesium deficiency, paired with increased high-fructose intake, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome by causing inflammation.

11. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle and increasing the risk of fractures and falls.

A low intake of calcium and vitamin D, physical inactivity, smoking, and heavy drinking increase the risk of osteoporosis. However, chronic magnesium deficiency is also a risk factor for osteoporosis.

The decreased serum concentration of magnesium can cause both direct effects on the bone. It can also lead to indirect effects on bone mineral density by altering calcium homeostasis and affecting parathyroid hormone regulation.

12. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the lungs' airways of the lungs. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Magnesium levels tend to be lower in individuals with asthma than in healthy people. Research shows that people with mild to moderate asthma may benefit from magnesium supplementation.

Reducing Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

Restoring magnesium levels is key for preventing chronic diseases and related symptoms.

And reducing the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency mostly comes down to treating the underlying cause. This may include eating more foods rich in the mineral or changing medications.

Seeking out medical advice is also helpful for measuring the amount of magnesium in the blood. A dietitian can likewise assist in designing a well-balanced diet with magnesium-rich foods to meet personal needs. A safe and effective supplement may be recommended as well.

Reference:

Magnesium. National Institutes of Health.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Medically reviewed By Rob Brown, MD. Published on May 17, 2018. Updated on September 05, 2019.

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