September 19, 2020

18 magnesium deficiency signs

Trying to make sure you’re getting enough of every single beneficial vitamin and mineral is a tricky task. Even if you think you eat from a variety of different food groups, it’s still easy to become deficient in a particular nutrient that you’ve managed to miss out on. 

Magnesium in particular is sometimes hard to get enough of in the average daily diet, which can lead to a number of health problems over time.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral that’s important for maintaining good bone structure. It’s found in more than 300 enzymes in the body, which help with the processes that regulate a number of different functions, including the production of energy, body protein, and muscle contractions. Magnesium also plays a role in maintaining good heart health.

It’s thought that most of us don’t get anywhere near the magnesium we need, with some experts suggesting that it’s the biggest widespread general health issue of the current time. The amount of magnesium a person generally needs varies – some people need more than others, depending on factors like age and gender. Getting your magnesium from foods is the best way to ensure you’re taking in enough of the mineral, but you can also supplement additionally if you need to.

18 Signs of magnesium deficiency

1. Constipation

If you’re unable to go to the toilet as frequently as usual, or you can’t go at all, you’re dealing with constipation. Constipation is usually a it’s taken regularly. This is because it has the ability to draw it increases the water level in the bowels and helps to relax muscles within the intestinal wall, making it easier to move foods through your system.

2. Increased stress levels

Low levels of GABA can lead to increased stress levels

Magnesium helps to regulate cortisol levels, helping your body respond better to stress or danger and allowing for more balanced hormone production. Magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep. Without enough magnesium, we’re at risk of having low levels of GABA in the body, which can lead to increased stress levels.

3. Anxiety and depression

Magnesium has been proven in studies to improve both anxiety and depression. The mineral plays an important role in regulating neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout the brain and body. 

When these neurotransmitters aren’t regulated, you’re more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and depression. Many people today use magnesium solely to treat an anxiety disorder.

4. Weakened bones

dietary magnesium can increase bone mineral density

Magnesium is key for the absorption and metabolism of calcium, which we all know is essential for strong and healthy bones. A number of studies have found that not enough can lower the levels of bone minerals, while getting enough dietary magnesium can increase bone mineral density, helping to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, weakened bones and bone fractures.

5. Poor sleep quality

We’ve already mentioned the neurotransmitter GABA and its role in helping the body to regulate its sleep system. GABA receptors in the brain need magnesium to function properly – and without a good supply of the mineral, you’ll struggle to sleep deeply and for the right amount of time. It’s possible that increasing your magnesium intake alone will help to naturally improve your sleep cycle.

6. Unhealthy skin

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body, and a combination of factors affect how healthy it is. If you’re lacking in magnesium, you might experience an increase in acne and skin disorders like psoriasis. 

This is because magnesium helps to improve your skin's overall appearance, reducing a number of skin disorders by lowering your levels of cortisol and helping to stabilize hormonal imbalances. Magnesium can also improve the processes carried out by your skin cells to ensure skin health is at a maximum.
Acne and other skin diseases can be caused by lack in magnesium

7. Poor cognitive function

Research has found that magnesium is essential for regulating the brain receptors that help us to learn and retain memory, and supplementing with magnesium has been proven to help clear brain fog. Magnesium also helps the brain to adapt and heal over a person’s lifespan. It’s thought that if you get enough magnesium, you might be able to slow down and even reverse cognitive decline.

8. Early ageing        

A lack of magnesium in your body can lead to the rapid death of endothelial cells and fibroblasts, which help to produce collagen needed to keep our skin supple, youthful and wrinkle-free. A lack of magnesium may also contribute to a number of skin diseases that are related to age, like benign growths or roughened, dry skin. 

Because magnesium acts as an antioxidant against free radical damage of the mitochondria, increasing your intake will help prevent signs of ageing.

18 signs you're magnesium deficient

9. Muscle cramping and spasms

We need magnesium for normal muscle contraction, so it makes sense that a magnesium deficiency causes increased muscle cramping and spasms. Specifically, magnesium helps to transport calcium and potassium ions across our cells, which we need for healthy nerve impulses and muscle contraction. 

Several studies have found magnesium to be effective at treating leg cramping, especially in pregnant women, who are likely to experience the issue more frequently.

Increased muscle cramps from magnesium deficiency

10. Enlarged thyroid gland

A deficiency in magnesium has been linked to an enlarged thyroid gland, which can cause a persistent cough, and make it difficult to gulp or swallow foods. You might also experience a tight throat or difficulty breathing. While an enlarged thyroid gland is rarely dangerous, it can be annoying to live with. Increasing your magnesium intake should bring your thyroid back down to normal size.

11. Insulin resistance

Increasing magnesium intake can improve insulin sensitivity

It’s estimated that up to half of the US population has some kind of insulin resistance that’s been linked to metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. One study found that people who had higher levels of magnesium had a much lower decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, suggesting that increasing your intake of magnesium might be enough to improve insulin sensitivity. 

It’s also thought that a magnesium deficiency increases levels of triglycerides, fats in the blood which are linked to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

12. Frequent migraines

Magnesium oxide is frequently used in pill form to prevent migraines, thanks to its ability to prevent a wave of brain signaling that produces the visual and sensory changes that cause many migraine headaches. Magnesium may also be able to prevent the narrowing of blood vessels caused by serotonin, as well as improve platelet function and prevent the release of pain transmitting chemicals in the brain. 

Magnesium deficiency can lead to frequent headaches and migraines

This is why you may find that if you’re deficient in magnesium, you’re suffering from frequent headaches and migraines.

13. Inflammation

Low magnesium levels are linked to chronic inflammation, which can lead to premature aging, obesity, and chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Getting the recommended intake of magnesium, on the other hand, has been shown to be effective in helping fight inflammation. 

It does this by reducing an inflammatory marker called CRP, which is made by the liver and is released as an inflammatory response. Sometimes too much CRP can be produced needlessly, and adequate magnesium intake can prevent this from being an issue.

14. Heart problems

Good levels of magnesium can help to maintain a regular heartbeat and normal blood pressure.

A recent study linked lower levels of magnesium intake with an increased risk of coronary heart disease by 50 to 80 percent. Additionally, because you need magnesium for regulating the heart muscle and coordinating the nerves that cause the heart to beat healthily if your magnesium levels are low, you’re more likely to be at risk of irregular heartbeats and heart palpitations. 

Good levels of magnesium can help to maintain a regular heartbeat and normal blood pressure.

15. Asthma

Because magnesium relaxes the bronchial muscles and expands the airways, allowing more air to flow in and out of the lungs, it helps to keep your lungs healthy and free of disease. Several studies have found that not getting enough magnesium from your diet can lead to an impaired lung function, as well as an increased risk of wheezing. 

Some research even linked low magnesium with the development of respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive airway disease.

16. Flu-like symptoms

Flu-like symptoms is a sign of magnesium deficiency

If you experience flu-like symptoms like loss of appetite, feelings of nausea or sickness, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness, these may be the first warning signs that you’re deficient in magnesium. Of course, these might just be signs that you have the flu, and it’s hard to be certain that these are linked to a deficiency in magnesium. 

Try supplementing with the mineral for a few days to see if you notice a difference.

17. Unexplained seizures

Seizures that aren’t linked to a known disorder like epilepsy can sometimes be a sign of worsening magnesium deficiency. This is because seizures occur when you’re experiencing an abnormal electrical activity in your brain, which is often caused by a lack of magnesium. 

On the other hand, recent research suggests that supplementing with magnesium may actually prevent seizures in people with epilepsy. You should visit your doctor as soon as possible if you’ve had an unexplained seizure.

18. Muscle fatigue and weakness

If your muscles are fatigued, a condition that causes physical exhaustion, it might be a sign that you’re deficient in magnesium. Although we’ll all experience fatigue from time to time, fatigue that’s severe or persistent may be a sign of something more serious. Fatigue can be linked to a number of different health problems, but a more specific sign of magnesium deficiency is muscle weakness. 

Scientists think that this weakness is caused by the loss of potassium in muscle cells, which is often directly caused by a magnesium deficiency. Increase your magnesium intake and you should see an improvement in muscle movement and strength, as well as improved transportation of energy around your body.

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Naturally increasing your magnesium intake

Include magnesium rich food in your diet like avocado

It’s fairly simple to naturally increase your magnesium intake through diet alone. Some of the best food sources of magnesium include almonds, spinach, tofu, avocado, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, and bananas. Try to include more magnesium-rich foods in your daily meals, especially breakfast.

If you’re struggling to obtain enough magnesium through your diet, another option is to take daily magnesium supplements. These are usually available in tablet or dissolvable powder form, and you’ll normally have to take a standard recommended dose at the same time on a daily basis. Always speak to your doctor before you supplement with magnesium, because it can interact with some medications.


Not many people realise just how important magnesium is for helping us to maintain good health. In the long run, a lack of magnesium can lead to a number of serious health issues, including changes in personality, seizures, and abnormal heart rhythm.

If you are showing signs of magnesium deficiency, it’s important to do something about it immediately. Your doctor can carry out a medical assessment and help you to take the appropriate steps towards adding more magnesium into your diet if necessary.

About the author

Rachel Perono

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