September 19, 2020

18 magnesium deficiency signs

It’s not the simplest task to make sure you get a sufficient intake of every beneficial mineral and vitamin out there. Even if you try and diversify your diet by eating from several different food groups, it’s still tricky to avoid deficiencies. One of the minerals people generally tend to miss out on is magnesium, potentially leading to several health issues in the long run.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is found in over 300 of the body’s enzymes, and it’s essential for maintaining a healthy bone structure. It also helps regulate several important body functions, including muscle contractions and energy production. Additionally, magnesium plays a vital role in maintaining your heart health.

Most people have a much lower daily intake of magnesium than they need. Some experts even claim that magnesium deficiency happens to be the biggest general widespread health issue of today.

The amount of required magnesium varies from person to person, with some needing more or less than others. It depends on different factors such as gender, age, and lifestyle. The best way to get your magnesium is through natural food sources, but you may go down the supplement route if you need to.

18 Signs of magnesium deficiency

1. Constipation

If you’re having issues with going to the toilet regularly, that’s constipation. It often suggests that you should increase your magnesium intake, due to the mineral’s laxative effect. Magnesium can help draw water into stools, softening them and easing their passage through the tracts. So, if you’ve been having trouble sustaining regular bowel movement, make sure you have enough magnesium-rich foods in your diet.

2. Increased stress levels

Low levels of GABA can lead to increased stress levels

Another important role of magnesium is to help with cortisol regulation, boosting the body’s ability to respond to danger and stress. It also allows for a more balanced production of hormones. Moreover, magnesium increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), improving your sleep quality and helping you relax. Without sufficient magnesium intake, you’re constantly at the risk of having low GABA levels, leading to higher stress.

3. Anxiety and depression

Just like stress, magnesium also helps with other mental health problems like anxiety and depression. It plays a vital role in neurotransmitter regulation, a process responsible for communication between the body and brain. Experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety become more likely when neurotransmitters aren’t regulated. Many anxiety patients use magnesium supplements to solely help with their condition.

4. Weakened bones

dietary magnesium can increase bone mineral density

We all know the importance of calcium for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Magnesium is an essential mineral when it comes to the body’s calcium absorption. Making sure you’re getting enough magnesium through your everyday diet can help increase the mineral density of your bones, reducing the risk of bone health problems such as weakened bones, osteoporosis, and fractures.

5. Poor sleep quality

As mentioned above, the neurotransmitter GABA plays an essential role in regulating your sleep. The brain’s GABA receptors need magnesium to properly function. Without sufficient magnesium supply, you may experience issues with getting enough deep sleep. Hence, simply upping your intake of magnesium can have a great natural impact on the quality of your sleep cycles.

6. Unhealthy skin

Fun fact: the skin is the body’s largest organ. Many different factors determine how healthy your skin is, and one of them is your magnesium intake. If your body lacks the mineral, you may run into skin problems like acne, psoriasis, and so on.

As magnesium lowers your cortisol levels and helps correct hormonal imbalances, it improves the skin’s appearance by preventing various skin disorders. The mineral even improves the processes that your skin cells naturally carry out to ensure optimal skin health.

Acne and other skin diseases can be caused by lack in magnesium

7. Poor cognitive function

Magnesium is vital for the regulation of receptors in the brain that help us retain and learn memories. Thus, taking magnesium supplements has shown to help clear brain fog. It also allows the brain to heal and adapt throughout your lifespan. Getting sufficient quantities of magnesium is also thought to slow down, or even reverse the cognitive decline that comes with ageing. Speaking of which…

8. Early ageing        

Magnesium deficiency can lead to reduced lifespans of fibroblasts and endothelial cells, which help with the production of collagen. Collagen is needed to keep the skin supple and wrinkle-free. Lower levels of magnesium in the body can give rise to skin diseases the relate to early ageing, such as dry skin or benign skin growths. Since the mineral acts as an antioxidant countering the damage caused to the mitochondria by free radicals, increasing your magnesium intake can help keep ageing signs away from your skin.

18 signs you're magnesium deficient

9. Muscle cramping and spasms

Normal muscle contraction requires magnesium, so a deficiency of the mineral makes muscle spasms and cramps much more likely and frequent. This is because magnesium helps in transporting potassium and calcium ions across the cells, both of which are required for normal muscle contraction and nerve impulses. According to several studies, magnesium has shown to be effective in the treatment of leg cramps, especially in pregnant ladies who tend to encounter them more often.

Increased muscle cramps from magnesium deficiency

10. Enlarged thyroid gland

A magnesium deficiency may also lead to an enlarged thyroid gland, causing difficulty swallowing and a cough. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing or a tight throat. While it shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s more annoying than dangerous to live with an enlarged thyroid gland. Boosting your daily magnesium intake should normally resolve the issue and shrink your thyroid gland size back to normal.

11. Insulin resistance

Increasing magnesium intake can improve insulin sensitivity

Over half of the US population is estimated to be dealing with some sort of resistance to insulin, which is most commonly linked to type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. According to one study, people with higher magnesium intake levels saw significantly lower metabolic syndrome risk, which suggests that increased magnesium intake may help improve your insulin sensitivity. Some experts think that a magnesium deficiency can also increase triglyceride levels — which are fats in the blood linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

12. Frequent migraines

Magnesium oxide, usually taken in pill form, works wonders in preventing migraines, as it can help avoid a brain signalling wave that creates the sensory and visual changes responsible for migraines in many cases. Magnesium can also help prevent blood vessel narrowing that serotonin causes, while also improving the functioning of platelets. It can even prevent pain transmitting chemicals from releasing in the brain. Thanks to this, you may notice a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of your migraines just by upping your magnesium intake.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to frequent headaches and migraines

13. Inflammation

Chronic inflammation may also be a result of a lack of magnesium, potentially leading to obesity, early ageing, and diseases like arthritis and heart health problems. Securing the recommended levels of magnesium has shown to help counter inflammation. The mineral does this by lowering an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein (CRP). It’s produced by the liver and gets released as an inflammatory response. Sometimes, CRP can be produced in higher quantities than needed, and having sufficient magnesium levels can prevent and counteract this issue.

14. Heart problems

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

According to a recent study, magnesium deficiency is linked to a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease by about 50 to 80 per cent. This makes sense as the body requires magnesium to regulate heart muscle and coordinate nerves that get your heart to beat. With low levels of magnesium, you run a higher risk of heart palpitations and irregular heartbeats. Healthy levels of the mineral will help maintain normal blood pressure and regular heartbeat.

15. Asthma

Magnesium helps expand your airways by relaxing the bronchial muscles, which allows more air to flow through the lungs, keeping them healthy. According to several studies, insufficient levels of magnesium can lead to compromised lung function in the long run and a higher risk of wheezing. Some research also links the mineral’s low intake with respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive airway disease and asthma.

16. Flu-like symptoms

Flu-like symptoms is a sign of magnesium deficiency

If you frequently experience flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, weakness, or fatigue, this may indicate a developing magnesium deficiency. They can also simply be signs of flu, so it’s best to just reconsider your diet to see if you’re getting enough magnesium every day. If you’re not eating enough magnesium-rich foods, try taking supplements of the mineral for a few days and see if there’s an improvement.

17. Unexplained seizures

Seizures that aren’t associated with a diagnosed disorder such as epilepsy can often point toward a severe lack of magnesium. Seizures are the body’s response to irregular electrical activity in the brain, which can often be due to magnesium deficiency. Moreover, some research suggests that magnesium supplements can even prevent seizures in epileptic patients. If you’ve had an unexplained seizure recently, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

18. Muscle fatigue and weakness

If your muscles often feel fatigued—a condition causing exhaustion—it might indicate a magnesium deficiency. We all experience fatigue from time to time as the body’s natural response to unusually tiring work, but severe or frequent fatigue may point toward something serious. It can be linked to several different health issues, but muscle weakness is one of the common signs of magnesium deficiency.

Scientists believe that this weakness in the muscles could be caused by a loss of potassium in the cells, which as we touched on above, can be due to a lack of magnesium. You should see improvements in muscle strength and movement upon increasing your magnesium intake, as well as better energy distribution throughout the body.

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Naturally increasing your magnesium intake

Include magnesium rich food in your diet like avocado

Increasing your magnesium intake naturally is fairly simple, as it only requires certain additions or changes to your regular diet. Include more magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet, especially breakfast. Add foods like almonds, spinach, peanut butter, avocado, tofu, bananas, and whole wheat bread to your diet.

Supplements are another way to conveniently secure your daily magnesium intake. They’re easily available in powder or tablet form, requiring you to take a recommended standard dose at a specific time every day. However, before you start supplementing your body with magnesium, consult your doctor to obtain a professional opinion.


Most people don’t understand the importance of magnesium in helping us maintain our overall well-being. Over time, unaddressed magnesium deficiency can lead to serious health problems, such as seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, or even personality changes. If you find yourself portraying one or more of these signs, it’s important to get it checked up and address it immediately.

About the author

Rachel Perono

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