Magnesium deficiency (also known as hypomagnesemia) is not nearly as well known as calcium or vitamin deficiencies, but it is just as rough on your body. What’s even more worrying is that at least 57% of the population is deficient in magnesium . In fact, more and more people aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet, with processed foods and reduced levels in the soil considered to be the culprit. Not getting enough magnesium can start a downward spiral of serious health problems because it is responsible for a lot of important body functions. Read on to discover the full list of symptoms and causes. If this list of symptoms seems spot on, we have a full section on the steps you can take. Luckily, getting more magnesium in your diet is easy, as you’ll find!
Part I: Symptoms
Part II: The Causes
Part III: How To Fix It
Part I: The Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 important bodily functions . So, as you might imagine, there are quite a few signs. However, they all tend to follow the same line of decreasing the basic processes of your body such as sleep, appetite, and muscular
1. Poor Sleep / Insomnia
One of these includes regulating your circadian rhythm (your sleep-and-wake cycles). Other studies with the mineral have shown that it helps those suffering from insomnia. As you can imagine, being part of so many functions including your sleep and wake cycles will affect your quality of sleep. So, if you are finding that you aren’t sleeping well or you are dealing with insomnia, you might want to check your magnesium levels!
2. Low Appetite
Included in magnesium’s functions are its regulation of insulin, and of protein synthesis . Upon one study done on magnesium and sleep functions, one of the side effects was that those low in magnesium started to eat a lot more. Furthermore, because it has been so critical in the absorption of carbohydrates and protein, you will also begin to feel better because you are getting more out of your food.
3. Muscle Spasms
A magnesium deficiency can result in what is known as “neuromuscular excitability” . More commonly, these are known as muscle spasms. If your body isn’t getting enough magnesium, it can cause problems with delivering proper signals to your muscles.
4. Poor Coordination
Poor coordination is also going to come from the same issues that result in muscle spasms. If your body is sending improper signals, it follows that you aren’t going to be responding as quickly as you might hope. Your brain won’t send the proper impulse to your muscles that will decrease reaction time and your ability to hold objects.
5. Poor Vision
Magnesium can help prevent cataracts, glaucoma, and other vision problems . These conditions are even more prevalent the older you get, so it is important to be getting the daily recommended amount of magnesium in your diet at a minimum.
6. Personality Changes
When your brain isn’t receiving enough of its proper nutrients, you can begin to deal with personality changes. Many mental disorders are thought to be biochemical imbalances, and not receiving enough vitamins and minerals can be responsible for these imbalances . Magnesium is a mineral that helps with the absorption of other minerals. Some mood and personality changes, in particular, could be depression, apathy, and fatigue. If you have noticed that you are not feeling yourself lately, it could be the result of deficient magnesium levels.
7. Headaches and Migraines
A peer-reviewed, double-blind study showed that magnesium supplementation significantly reduced migraine attacks and symptoms . To quote this study, “Studies revealed decreased levels of the micronutrients riboflavin, magnesium and coenzyme in plasma and in the brain of migraine patients [7-9]. A deficit of these nutrients could play a role in the pathophysiology of migraine. Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with migraine [10,11]. Riboflavin, magnesium and coenzyme Q10 play an important role in the production of energy in the mitochondria”.
8. High Blood Pressure
Magnesium is responsible for reducing mineral deposits in your blood vessels . It also regulates other functions having to do with your veins and cell walls, so it is essential in proper blood flow.
9. Hypoparathryroidism: Decreased Calcium and Potassium Levels
This one is certainly a mouthful. If you’re concerned about osteoporosis and many other effects of low calcium but you think you’re taking enough, there is another cause. Magnesium, as it has been shown, is important for the absorbing of calcium and potassium. The best way to figure this out is by taking a test to see if your levels are low despite taking other supplements.
Part II: Magnesium Deficiency Causes:
1. Not Enough In Diet
It seems obvious to read, but most people just aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet. However, when you consider the diet of many Americans, it may not be surprising. In the next section, we’ll discuss in full the foods that you should be getting. As a quick teaser, two really great sources are legumes (beans) and green leafy vegetables such as Kale and Spinach - Popeye was right, after all.
2. Too Much Alcohol / Alcoholism
Even if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet, too much alcohol can inhibit absorption. There’s nothing wrong with a glass of red or a couple of beers every once in a while, but if you’re suffering from any of the above symptoms, you might want to reduce your intake.
If you just recently had a stomach bug or food poisoning that caused diarrhea, you are probably low on magnesium.
4. Poor Absorption from Intestines
Sometimes your kidneys and intestines may not absorb a lot of your magnesium, or they may get rid of it from your body too easily. Many hospital patients lose a lot of this critical mineral during tests. If you’ve just recently been to the hospital, or you or somebody you know is in the hospital and is dealing with any of the above symptoms, it is critical to start taking more.
Antibiotics are a known cause of reducing the absorption of magnesium. 
Level III: How To Test Your Magnesium Levels:
Hair and Blood Tests
Hair and blood tests are great ways of figuring out what minerals and metals are present in your body. We recommend taking a hair test for three reasons: it’s less likely to be influenced by outside factors, it’s more accurate, and it’s also easier (and less painful) to do. You can check out our hair mineral analysis tests here.
What To Eat and Next Steps:
Once you’ve established that you have a magnesium deficiency, it’s time to act on it quickly. You can start by consuming more magnesium-rich foods, as well as taking supplements. Keep in mind that the daily recommended minimum magnesium consumption level is about 400mg a day. If you are physically active, you’ll need even more than this.
Magnesium Rich Foods
These foods are all great sources of magnesium. We go from highest to lowest sources, with leafy greens being the best source.
- Leafy green vegetables (Kale, spinach, okra, chard)
- Nuts and seeds (Almonds and pumpkin seeds are some of the best and tastiest!)
- Legumes (Beans)
- Chocolate (Go for dark chocolate varieties. They not only taste better, but are better for you!)
At the same time, we recommend avoiding highly processed foods such as refined bread, since these tend to have reduced levels of magnesium.
One important thing to note, however, is that the levels of magnesium in food and in soil these days are not as high as they used to be . This means that you aren’t getting the same amount of magnesium in your food as your ancestors used to.
Magnesium Supplementation - Avoiding common pitfalls
If you’re on the road a lot, or you are unable to get foods that are not high in magnesium, we highly recommend taking a liquid magnesium supplement. In particular, we recommend a form of magnesium called liquid nano magnesium that we have pioneered by creating a new category of supplementation that targets mineral deficiency by being able to absorb in the mouth and upper stomach. It is highly absorbable, so it’s great if you need magnesium right now. In fact, it absorbs better and acts more quickly in your system than any other form of magnesium on the web.
Due to diet and the environment, we’re not getting as much magnesium as we should be getting! Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of important bodily functions including protein synthesis and melatonin production. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell if magnesium is directly involved because it is so important for a variety of processes. We recommend you add a mineral imbalance test test to your cart today to correctly identify the levels in your body. No test is better at showing where you can improve your mineral status and therefore where you can improve your energy and sleep quality. Not doing so robs you from the sleep and the life you COULD have which is important to consider because it is not the cost of the test, its the cost of not knowing and not fixing the problem of mineral deficiency that you should really consider.
From there, you should start eating more foods rich in magnesium, as well as take magnesium supplements that absorb directly into your bloodstream like ours if you find that like 80% of people alive today, you too have a not so minor deficiency, which means 700-800 of your body processes will not work at their best. Scary, we know but this is important to think about and why testing can eliminate guesswork and ultimately save you money in the long run when you stop buying things that you are already high in and that are hurting your health.
 American psychiatric A: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington DC: 2000.
 Gröber U. Magnesium. In: Gröber U., editor. Micronutrients: Metabolic Tuning-Prevention-Therapy. 1st ed. MedPharm Scientific Publishers; Stuttgart, Germany: 2009. pp. 159–166.
Photo Credit: Anchor Lee