Magnesium is a mineral used by the body for more than 600 bodily processes, including metabolism, muscle contraction, and DNA creation. It is instrumental in the creation and maintenance of healthy bones in the body. Magnesium helps regulate blood glucose levels and blood pressure and maintain healthy heart and brain function. In the digestive tract, magnesium aids in moving stool through the intestinal tract as well as neutralizing excess stomach acid. Although magnesium is essential for a plethora of functions in the body, most American adults do not get the recommended amount of magnesium. A magnesium deficiency, also referred to as hypomagnesemia, has been linked to a number of health issues. Common signs of magnesium deficiency include depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and weakness. Unfortunately, a magnesium deficiency can go undiagnosed until an individual’s magnesium levels become extremely low.
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency can be caused by several different things. A poor diet or starvation can result in low magnesium serum levels. Certain medications like proton pump inhibitors and chemotherapy can also cause reduced amounts of magnesium in the body. Digestive issues like Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, poor absorption, and celiac disease can result in hypomagnesemia. Type 2 diabetes, kidney issues, and long term use of diuretics, acid reflux medication, and ulcer medications can also be to blame. Finally, low magnesium levels can be caused by gastric bypass surgery or by long term alcohol abuse.
Getting Magnesium Deficiency Diagnosis
Many people have magnesium levels lower than the recommended amount without knowing it. It is not uncommon for there to be no symptoms when magnesium levels begin to decline. In addition to this, the initial symptoms are associated with a large number of other health problems.
However, if you are having symptoms your doctor may want to check your magnesium levels. The first signs of low magnesium include unrelenting fatigue, nausea, weakness, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, and weakness. When left untreated, it can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, numbness, tingling, seizures, and changes in personality. Finally, low potassium or calcium levels can be indicative of decreased magnesium levels.
Understanding Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
The signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are nonspecific, which can delay diagnosis. Many of these signs occur with other medical conditions and nutritional deficiencies. By understanding the signs of a magnesium deficiency, you can seek out medical assistance.
If you experience any of the following magnesium deficiency signs, contact your doctor. At your appointment, mention the symptoms you are having, the length of time they have occurred, and any other pertinent information like other medical conditions, supplements and medications you are taking, and your diet.
Individuals with severe asthma may have a magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that asthma sufferers tend to have lower amounts of magnesium in the body than those who do not have this medical condition. Hypomagnesemia allows calcium to build up in the muscle lining of the airways in the lungs, which causes your airways to constrict, resulting in breathing difficulties.
Using an inhaler that contains magnesium sulfate can help relax the airways and expand them. If this does not help during an asthma attack, the asthma sufferer may be given an injection to help quickly relieve asthma. If you have developed asthma or your asthma has gotten worse, talk with your doctor and ask for a simple blood test to determine if you have asthma.
If you are diagnosed with low levels of magnesium, your doctor may prescribe a magnesium enriched inhaler along with magnesium supplements. To help improve your lung health, eat foods that contain magnesium.
2. Decreased Brain Health
Magnesium is essential to brain development, learning, memory, and a variety of mental health issues. The brain needs magnesium for short term and long term memory. Magnesium also helps regulate cortisol in the body to reduce the effects of stress on the brain. When you have a deficiency, inflammation in the brain stem can occur, causing memory issues, Alzheimer’s disease, and migraine headaches.
Hypomagnesemia has also been associated with a number of mental health issues. Sufferers may experience apathy (lack of emotion or mental numbness), depression, irritability, and anxiety. Suicidal ideation and depression can also occur if your magnesium levels are low. If the deficiency is allowed to worsen, sufferers may experience delirium or coma.
A magnesium deficiency can impact all areas of the brain. If you are experiencing any of the issues listed above, talk with your doctor and ask if it might be a magnesium deficiency. Adding brain boosting magnesium rich foods to your diet along with supplementation may improve your mood or your memory.
3. Heart Problems
When your body does not receive enough magnesium, every organ in the body can be affected, including your heart. Low magnesium levels have been shown to increase the risk of heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). The symptoms of heart arrhythmia can range from no symptoms to several serious symptoms. You may experience heart palpitations, which cause a pause to occur between your heartbeats. You may also experience chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. Heart arrhythmias can also increase the risk of heart failure and stroke. Finally, low magnesium levels have also been associated with high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Scientists think that low magnesium levels can result in imbalanced potassium levels both inside and outside of the heart. Furthermore, hypomagnesemia can cause increased blood pressure to rise, which increases the risk of a variety of cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and stroke.
Eating a heart healthy diet that includes magnesium rich foods along with stress relief techniques and daily exercise will improve your heart health.
4. Muscle Spasms
Muscle cramps, tremors, and twitches can all be signs of hypomagnesemia. If left untreated, the deficiency can lead to convulsions and seizures. Researchers believe that this occurs when too much calcium flows into the nerve cells, which hyper stimulates the nerves.
However, muscle twitches, tremors, and cramps can also be caused by excess caffeine consumption, stress, medication side effects, and neuromuscular diseases like multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy. Although you may occasionally experience muscle twitches or cramps, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor if you experience them often.
Incorporating foods containing large amounts of magnesium along with taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can help improve muscle and nerve health. If you are experiencing muscle twitches, cramps (Charley horses), or tremors increase your magnesium consumption and see if it helps. Other common causes for muscle cramps include dehydration, low potassium, and overuse.
5. Sleep Problems
Individuals around the world suffer from poor sleep or insomnia. Magnesium binds with the receptors in your brain responsible for calming nerve activity down. When you do not have enough magnesium in your body, you may not be able to relax and calm your mind.
Magnesium is used by the nervous system, and the nervous system controls your sleep. If you do not get an ample amount of magnesium, you may not be getting a full night’s sleep. Low magnesium levels have been associated with restless leg syndrome and insomnia. Taking a magnesium supplement may help improve sleep duration and sleep quality.
Supplementation has been shown to naturally increase circulating melatonin. It also has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Taking a magnesium supplement before bed may help improve your sleep habits and relieve a variety of sleep problems.
6. Weakness and Fatigue
Fatigue is described as unrelenting mental or physical exhaustion that is not relieved with rest. Although you may get tired or fatigued from time to time, persistent or severe fatigue should always be checked out by a doctor. Fatigue is a nonspecific symptom that can be a symptom of a variety of health issues.
Weakness and fatigue often occur when you have a mineral deficiency. A magnesium deficiency can reduce the amount of potassium in the cells of your muscles, which can lead to weakness and fatigue. When you do not have an ample amount of magnesium or potassium in the body, your electrolytes can become imbalanced, resulting in dehydration, fatigue, and weakness.
Treating Low Magnesium Levels
If you are diagnosed with lower than normal magnesium levels, take heart! Getting your levels back to normal is not difficult; however, if you have a malabsorption issue or suffer from chronic diarrhea, it can take longer for this to happen.
Your first line of defense should be eating a diet rich in magnesium. Some of the top sources of magnesium include:
• Chia seeds
• Dark chocolate
• Green leafy vegetables
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sunflower seeds
In addition to following a diet high in magnesium foods, you should take a magnesium supplement. One of the most common side effects of magnesium supplementation is diarrhea. Taking magnesium supplements, particularly magnesium citrate, increases the amount of water in your intestinal tract. You can counteract this effect by taking your supplement with whole grains and fresh vegetables.
Magnesium supplementation should not be used by those suffering from certain health conditions like kidney disease. Additionally, if you take proton pump inhibitors, diuretics, bisphosphonates, or antibiotics, you should speak with a doctor.
How Much Magnesium Should You Take?
The exact amount of magnesium you should take depends on your unique health. A functional doctor (https://rosewellness.com/) can help determine the amount of magnesium you should be taking. The amount can vary based on your overall health, your diet, and any medical conditions you may be suffering from.
Minerals are essential to your health. Ensuring you are getting an ample amount of magnesium and other minerals can help relieve many of your symptoms and help prevent and relieve chronic disease.