You May Need More Magnesium

You May Need More Magnesium

Do you suffer from painful muscle spasms, insomnia, or depression? How about chronic pain or migraine headaches? These are some of the most frequent symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is very common, affecting 75% of the U.S. population, and with 19% of Americans consuming far less than half of what is needed for good health. Americans average a mere 212 mg of magnesium each day, even though the recommended daily amount is 420 mg. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to correct the problem.

How can you know for sure that you are magnesium deficient?

It’s no simple matter to get an accurate diagnosis of magnesium deficiency. The AMA endorses a serum magnesium test that reads the amount of the vital mineral in your blood. Unfortunately, the test is often inaccurate, and may be misleading. Serum magnesium is a poor predictor of the mineral’s intracellular concentrations, and only 1% of the body’s magnesium is found in your bloodstream. Consequently, many cases of magnesium deficiency escape detection and go untreated.

The effects of magnesium deficiency can be subtle, especially if the deficiency is subclinical and not long established. It is sometimes a contributing factor in complex diseases. For example, magnesium deficiency can play a role in the progression of type 2 diabetes. Magnesium is detected in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body, including blood pressure control, blood sugar regulation, and protein synthesis. Since the deficiency is so widespread, and its diagnosis so complicated, it makes sense to take measures to assure you are receiving adequate amounts of magnesium.

Certain groups are at heightened risk of magnesium deficiency:

  • People with type 2 diabetes
  • People who abuse alcohol
  • Older adults, especially those taking medications that affect magnesium absorption
  • People with malabsorption caused by inflammation, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease

How can I improve my magnesium levels?

There are two principal ways to improve magnesium levels in the body: eat more magnesium-rich foods, or take supplemental magnesium. Choosing the former has several advantages. While you are improving your magnesium nutrition, you can also increase your intake of valuable fibers and phytochemicals. Some of the best dietary choices are:

  • Nuts, especially almonds and cashews
  • Peas and beans, especially black beans
  • Brown rice and millet
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Baked potatoes, including the skin

You may choose instead to take a magnesium supplement to reach the optimum 750 mg daily. Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are well absorbed, and taken in small amounts daily — 200 mg or so — can have a sizeable impact on your body’s magnesium levels.

Can you get too much magnesium?

If you are healthy, it’s difficult to get too much magnesium. You’ll excrete any amount above and beyond what your body requires. However, individuals with depressed renal function may not efficiently clear excess magnesium. Instead, they may vomit, develop low blood pressure, and have difficulty breathing.

It is almost impossible to get too much magnesium from food sources alone, so start including more magnesium-rich foods in your meals today and every day.


Happy Mothering: Magnesium Deficiency and How to Correct It

Ancient Minerals: Magnesium Deficiency

World Health Organization. Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water: Public health significance. Geneva: World Health Organization Press; 2009.

National Institutes of Health: Magnesium