Magnesium Deficiency Risk Factors and Symptoms


Magnesium is a vital mineral necessary for our survival, so it should come as no surprise that magnesium deficiency symptoms can be quite serious. Even minor deficiencies are disruptive to overall health, but the good news is that it's fairly easy to remedy the problem. To do that, you have to know exactly what those symptoms are, how to make a certain determination, and how to combat the issue through diet and supplementation.

Are You Magnesium Deficient?

The current RDI for magnesium is 400 mg. Unfortunately, it is estimated that about two thirds of the US population fail to take in sufficient amounts of magnesium in their diets. It is especially unfortunate considering it is very difficult to overdose on this mineral through food sources; the only established upper limit is for supplemental magnesium (350 mg on top of the magnesium in the food).

Some medical conditions pave the way for magnesium deficiency, such as:

  • Mismanaged diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess vomiting
  • Bartter's syndrome
  • Gitelman's syndrome

Certain drugs also put the user in the danger zone for deficiency:

  • Diuretics
  • Cyclosporin
  • Cisplatin
  • Proton pump inhibitors (possible connection -- research still being done)

Common Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

The list of magnesium deficiency symptoms is long and in some cases dire. Bear in mind that most of these symptoms may have other causes; if you suspect that you may be deficient, discuss the matter with your doctor and get a blood test rather than self-medicating and hoping for the best. Having said that, the typical magnesium deficiency symptoms include:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Compromised immune system (with secondary problems as a result)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin K deficiency
  • Migraine
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Insomnia
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Certain form of allergy
  • Increased sensitivity to stress
  • Involuntary muscle twitches

The type of symptoms and their severity often depend on the level of deficiency.

Combating Magnesium Deficiency

For acute deficiencies, magnesium solutions are administered intravenously. In most cases, improved diet and over-the-counter supplementation will fix the problem in short order. Some foods rich in magnesium are:

  • Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables
  • Almonds
  • Cashew nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Black peas
  • Whole grains
  • Milk

Magnesium is a common ingredient in most good multivitamin/mineral supplements out there, but you can buy magnesium-only pills too if you're so inclined; in this case you're toeing the line to...

Overdose Risks

As mentioned earlier, the risk of overdosing on magnesium is slim no matter how many almonds and spinach leaves you chew. Supplemental magnesium in the form of pills could do it, however; in that case you risk compromising calcium absorption, another vital mineral for your well being. Again, the decision of whether to exceed the RDA limit for supplemental magnesium is something to be discussed with your doctor to make sure you get the full facts on your situation.

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Magnesium Deficiency Risk Factors and Symptoms