Magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the modern world. It is estimated that up to 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral, which vital for our health. We need it for sleep, cellular function, hydration, proper heart function, digestion, all our enzyme activities, and to maintain proper muscle mass. Magnesium deficiency is one of many reasons why our health has been declining in the past several decades.
While we can get magnesium in foods like dark leafy greens, dairy, nuts, and seeds, the reason why so many people are deficient is not only because of our diet, but also because of the depleted quality of our soil. Resulting from agricultural practices like chemical fertilizers and mono-cropping, food grown from nutrient deficient soil, whether they are organic or conventional, are lacking in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins, and of course, magnesium. It has become increasingly important for many of us to think about supplementing with magnesium.
There are many signs of magnesium deficiency and some of them can be quite serious. If you are unsure of whether you might be deficient or not, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
7 Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency
1. Depression and anxiety. Magnesium affects our mood tremendously. If you experience depressive and anxious thoughts, instead of turning to anti-depressant drugs, magnesium supplements may help. We need magnesium in order to to release serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter in our brain. Also, magnesium can reduce and suppress the stress hormones in our body that cause these negative thoughts and emotions.
2. Muscle cramps. If you experience muscle spasms, restless leg syndrome, twitching, and/or cramps, it’s a sign that there’s a mineral imbalance. Magnesium helps the muscles relax and keeps the body better hydrated. Dehydration imbalances the electrolytes and keeps the muscle contracted. Personally, I make sure to take more magnesium supplements than normal after an intense workout, and I notice that my muscles are much less sore the next day.
3. Lack of sleep. Better sleep is one of the many benefits of magnesium. Because it promotes muscle relaxation like I’ve mentioned before, it calms your body and thoughts to induce a good night’s sleep. Not only that, magnesium regulates hormones that help you fall asleep AND keep you asleep. I’ve had insomnia issues in the past, and magnesium has worked better for me than melatonin to help me sleep at night.
4. Menstrual cramps and hormonal problems. Magnesium is crucial for our hormonal health. It aids in the manufacturing process of steroid hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, and a study has shown that it can reduce hot flashes drastically in women. As a muscle relaxant, women can take it during menstruation to minimize cramps, pains, and other PMS symptoms.
5. Chocolate cravings. We’ve all experienced it. That extreme craving for sweet, delicious chocolate. Because chocolate is high in magnesium, this craving may be a sign that we are deficient in this mineral. And I’m talking about a serious craving that’s more than what’s considered “normal,” especially when we are depressed or stressed. Incorporating magnesium rich foods and supplements can help this craving go away.
6. Fatigue and headaches. Magnesium plays a huge role in fueling cellular energy, and our cells wouldn’t be able to produce energy without magnesium. This energy is required for all tissues and actions in our body. When energy production slows down, our body experiences chronic fatigue and even headaches. Intravenous magnesium has been shown to alleviate headaches rapidly, and increasing your magnesium intake regularly may give your more energy and make those headaches go away.
7. High blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common and serious concern for many Americans today. In order to improve your heart health, you may need to think about incorporating magnesium. The muscle relaxation role that magnesium plays also applies to our blood vessels and heart muscles, helping to lower our blood pressure. When the level of magnesium increases in our body, it also reduces blood clotting and calcification of the arteries and improves our cardiovascular health.
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Besides the lack of magnesium in our current food as I mentioned earlier, there are other lifestyle and diet factors that may cause magnesium deficiency in the body. Here are a few:
- High sugar intake
- Poor digestive function
- Prescription medications, like diuretics, antibiotics, and painkillers
- Excess calcium **Calcium and magnesium may compete with each other in the body, and we need a proper balance of these 2 minerals. When there’s too much calcium, magnesium levels start depleting. Many processed and packaged foods are fortified with calcium and a high intake of these products, as well as over-supplementing with calcium, contributes to magnesium deficiency.
Best Sources of Magnesium
- Celtic or Himalayan sea salt – Add a pinch to water and drink regularly
- Dark, leafy greens,
- Nuts and seeds
- Organ meats
- Bone broth
- Beans and grains, but only if they are soaked and/or sprouted
- Dark Chocolate
- Full fat, high quality dairy
If you are supplementing, it’s important to choose the type of magnesium that’s easily absorbable and doesn’t cause loose bowels. Cheap supplements are cheap for a reason! Make sure you choose the highest quality so you body can actually benefit from them. Here are some magnesium supplements that I like:
- Natural Vitality Natural Magnesium Calm
- Thorne Research – Citramin II without Copper & Iron
- Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium
- Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate
- Epsom salt baths (topical)
- Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion (topical)
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