Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is crucial for many of your body’s vital functions, including protein synthesis, proper muscle function, blood pressure and blood sugar control, energy production, and proper bone development. In fact, magnesium is actually responsible for over 300 of the body’s reactions! It is also essential for many of your body’s enzyme functions. Because of its important role in the body, a magnesium deficiency can be quite serious.
Magnesium is found naturally in many foods that you may eat on a daily basis, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, green leafy vegetables, soy milk, black beans, edamame, and avocados. A good rule of thumb to go by is that if a food is a significant source of dietary fiber, than it likely contains a good amount of magnesium too.
Because magnesium plays a vital role in your body, health professionals have set daily recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for magnesium. Females above the age of 30 should get 320 mg of magnesium daily, while males above the age of 30 should get 420 mg of magnesium per day.
Unfortunately, many people do not get the RDA of magnesium, and are thus at risk of magnesium deficiency symptoms. It’s estimated that about 70% of Americans suffer from magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
Magnesium is one of the body’s essential nutrients, and is often considered the most important mineral. Unfortunately, it’s also an overlooked mineral, which is the reason why many people may suffer from magnesium deficiency symptoms. Some of the most common magnesium deficiency symptoms include low energy; fatigue; general aches and pains; thirst; hunger; mood changes, such as anxiety and irritability; and weakness.
Magnesium deficiency is also overlooked by doctors as well, leading to misdiagnosis, since the condition does not appear on blood level tests; only one percent of your body’s magnesium is stored in the blood, so a blood test would not be able to reveal if you are suffering from magnesium deficiency symptoms. Since it’s hard to diagnose and the majority of North Americans eat a heavily processed fast food diet, people may not be getting enough magnesium just from food alone.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms will often start with just a few signs, then gradually increase until it’s a full-blown debilitating condition. At first, you might notice subtle symptoms, such as some fatigue, weakness, and perhaps muscle twitches (magnesium, after all, is found in your tissues, so it can cause muscle spasms and pains). The magnesium deficiency symptoms gradually get worse over time, especially if they’re not treated, with numbness, seizures, more significant mood changes, and heart problems occurring.
“Magnesium deficiency can affect virtually every organ system of the body. With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience twitches, cramps, muscle tension, muscle soreness, including back aches, neck pain, tension headaches, and jaw joint (or TMJ) dysfunction. Also, one may experience chest tightness or a peculiar sensation that he can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes a person may sigh a lot,” notes Dr. Sidney Baker. “Continuing with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, the central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations, such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.”
Factors Affecting Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
There are a variety of factors that affect magnesium deficiency and magnesium deficiency symptoms. For example, diabetics and people with insulin resistance are more likely to have magnesium deficiency. For sufferers of multiple sclerosis, magnesium deficiency symptoms make them more likely to suffer from twitching, muscle aches, and epilepsy. People who have low levels of potassium, called hypokalemia, are also more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency. Finally, magnesium deficiency can also be the cause of many cardiovascular problems.
Magnesium Sources and Supplements
In order to reduce your magnesium deficiency symptoms, many people consider taking a supplement of about 100 mg of magnesium a day. However, you can also try to get magnesium from your diet alone. Here are a few magnesium-rich foods:
- Brown rice
One of the worst magnesium deficiency symptoms is exhaustion, with people reporting feeling fatigued, irritable, and lethargic. To combat these symptoms, ensure that you are getting enough magnesium in your diet; this will help you feel stronger and more energized than ever before.