Studies show that around 75% of Americans don’t meet their requirements for magnesium (1).
Magnesium’s Role in the Body
Magnesium is an essential element that regulates cell membrane stability. It also plays a vital role in neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functions and is a critical helper in many metabolic reactions. Lack of magnesium can lead to changes in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular function. Mental health and immunity can also be affected if your body is magnesium depleted. The daily dietary requirements for magnesium for adults is 310 to 420 mg per day. However, the intake of magnesium in humans is often suboptimal. Thus magnesium is known to be one of the missing nutrients.
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Inadequate Magnesium In Your Diet
There are a few potential causes for magnesium deficiency. One prevalent cause is a lack of magnesium in a person’s diet. The standard American diet is rich in processed and fast food which do not provide magnesium. In order to prevent a deficiency, the average American should focus on magnesium rich foods rather than processed ones – whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, oats, and greens. However, magnesium content even in foods known to be a rich source is declining due to poorer mineral content in the soil nowadays.
Medications Leading to High Magnesium Loses
Another possible cause for a magnesium deficiency is the use of certain medication and supplements. Medications can cause minerals like magnesium to pass quickly through the body, such as diuretics, digoxin, laxatives, and acid suppressive medications used for reflux / GERD, proton pump inhibitors. Taking calcium supplements can lead to a battle for absorption and taking too much vitamin D may lead to excessive calcium absorption, which prohibits adequate magnesium absorption. (2)
Exercise Leads to Increased Magnesium Needs
Physical exercise may exhaust your magnesium stores, which together with a marginal dietary magnesium intake, may impair energy metabolism efficiency and the capability for physical work. Therefore it is essentially important for active individuals to meet their increased needs for magnesium. Recently, magnesium has been touted as an agent for increasing athletic performance. Be sure to optimize your magnesium intake if you are engaging in regular physiological activity.
Illness Lead to Increased Magnesium Loses
People with gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowl and irritable bowl disease lose more magnesium via their bowls.(4) Sufferers of Celiac or Crohn’s disease are more susceptible to a harsh lack of magnesium due to the gut not having a chance to absorb the minerals and trace elements. (3)
Type 2 diabetes patients also should be advised to watch their magnesium levels as their kidneys expel urine faster and more often. People with type 2 diabetes can benefit from magnesium supplementation to ensure their daily needs are met.
Low magnesium blood levels have been noted in people with metabolic syndrome, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer. (5)
Frequent Alcohol Consumption
If you consume more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day it is possible that your magnesium stores are deleted. Those with an alcohol dependency are especially at risk, as alcoholism can lead to an entire arsenal of health problems, such as liver disease, increase in urination, pancreatitis (5). Alcohol acts acutely as a diuretic, causing prompt, vigorous increase in the urinary magnesium excretion. (5)
Our gastrointestinal capacity declines as we age. It has been shown that magnesium absorption is also decreased with age. In the same time urinary output of magnesium tends to increases with age. Older adults often eat fewer magnesium-rich foods. They are more likely to take medication that can affect magnesium (such as diuretics). It is recommended that people over 65 consider a magnesium supplement especially if they are on magnesium depleting medications.
Magnesium Deficiency and Depression
Magnesium has an essential role in brain health; it is connected with brain biochemistry and the fluidity of neuronal membrane. Variety of neuromuscular and psychiatric symptoms, including different types of depression, was observed in magnesium deficiency. (6) In the neuropathic medicine magnesium is used as an essential remedy for a range of mental health problems. The fist publication of magnesium sulfate given to patients with agitated depression was published over 100 years ago. Numerous pre-clinical and clinical studies confirmed the that magnesium supplementation can work on improving mood in patient with depressive symptoms. (7)
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Common Symptoms Include:
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Muscle cramping
- Decrease in bone density
- Decrease immunity
- Mood changes and depression
- Changes in appetite
Results and Effects
When left untreated, a magnesium deficiency can lead to many serious, long lasting health issues. The weakening of motor control and bones through muscle twitches and osteoporosis. Elevated blood pressure. In more serious cases, seizures, cardiac arrhythmia’s, and depression.
Prevalence of Magnesium Deficiency
According to the last National Health and Nutrition Survey more than half of the US population does not consume the daily recommendations for magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can be present despite normal serum magnesium levels. Because serum magnesium does not reflect total body and intracellular magnesium, which is more than 99% of total body magnesium, most cases of magnesium deficiency remain undiagnosed.
Your blood magnesium levels may appear normal, however this does not mean that your intracellular levels are sufficient. The muscle biopsy method is rapid, reliable and may reveal conditions of deficiency, however is it not routinely used in clinical practice.
Getting Back on Track
If you are worried about your magnesium stores including more magnesium-rich foods is essentially important. Magnesium rich foods include:
- Nuts and seeds such as brazil nuts, cashew, pumpkin and chia seeds
- Legumes such as beans, chick peas and soybeans
- Whole grains, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and oats
- Fatty fish, salmon mackerel and halibut ( but be aware of the mercury content in fish )
Who Needs to Consider a Supplement
If you have a long standing inadequate intake and/or increased loses from medication, you have type 2 diabetes, major depression, compromised gastrointestinal function ( IBD or IBS), use alcohol frequently, advanced age or practice high intensity exercise, supplement is recommended to replenish your stores and meet your increased needs.
Consumers need to be aware that most magnesium supplements can be contaminated with lead, according to consumer labs. Finding a high quality, trusted, and third party tested supplier is vitally important to prevent lead contamination. Find high quality magnesium supplements here:
Recommended dose is between 150 and 300 mg per day. Take at bedtime.
- Magnesium supplement will also promote regularity and improve the quality of your sleep. It may reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep.