Magnesium Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, How To Get More Magnesium In Your Diet?
Our body requires all types of vitamins and minerals to keep functioning at an optimum level. Out of all the different types of minerals that are there, magnesium is perhaps the most important mineral for the body, Magnesium is needed for carrying out over 600 biochemical reactions in the body and is responsible for the proper functioning of the muscles, maintaining the proper levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, and also in maintaining the health of the immune system (1). The body needs magnesium to maintain and sustain day-to-day life. Without magnesium, the body would not be able to carry out the essential functions properly. However, magnesium is one of the most often ignored or overlooked mineral when people consider eating healthy. Due to this, many people are generally found to be deficient in magnesium. Let's try understanding magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium Deficiency & What It Entails
Being one of the most important minerals of the body, it is surprising to know that nearly 60 percent of all adults are deficient in magnesium, particularly in their diet. Magnesium plays a critical role as mentioned below:
- Ensuring the proper functioning of the muscles
- Maintaining the levels of blood pressure and blood sugar
- Keeping the immune system healthy and in working order
- Magnesium helps to relieve constipation
- Magnesium helps relieve insomnia
Apart from this, magnesium is also known to reduce the risk of many types of diseases, especially heart diseases and cancer (1). Magnesium deficiency is today linked with many types of diseases, particularly: diabetes, depression, migraine, hypertension and thyroid imbalance (1).
What Is The Daily Recommended Intake For Magnesium?
The daily recommended intake for magnesium for adult men is 420 mg per day and 320 mg per day for adult women (2).
What Are The Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency?
Some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: Muscle cramps and twitches, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle tremors, asthma, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, tingling or numbness, vomiting, nausea, mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, lack of emotion, delirium, mental numbness and even coma (3). Apart from all this, perhaps the biggest role magnesium has to play in the body is to boost the levels of vitamin D (4). Without sufficient magnesium, the body is unable to carry out the synthesis and metabolism pathway of vitamin D, which can then cause many other problems (4).
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
One of the biggest reason for magnesium deficiency is also that when aluminum is present in food, it can be either through the cooking utensils or drink containers, it starts to deplete the levels of magnesium (5). Furthermore, excessive use of baking powder, high levels of stress, and excessive use of antiperspirants, are all known to contribute to magnesium deficiency (5). Some studies have even pointed to the fact that excessive consumption of coffee, dairy products and even chocolate cannot be discounted.
The Relation Between Magnesium & Vitamin D
Magnesium is required by the body for boosting vitamin D levels as well. Most people are typically found to be deficient in vitamin D, especially those who live in countries where winter is the predominant season. If a person wants to boost their levels of vitamin D, then it is usually recommended that they take it with a magnesium supplement.
This is because one of the most important functions of magnesium in the body is to regulate the levels of vitamin D, which in turn keeps in check the levels of other crucial minerals such as phosphorus and calcium (4). Magnesium and vitamin D are required by the body for improving bone strength and is also known to lower the risk of many serious diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Research from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Tennessee, United States, has shown that magnesium increases the levels of vitamin D in individuals who require more of the vitamin and consequently also lower the levels of the vitamin in those who already have an excess amount of vitamin D in their body. The study has been published recently in the December 2018 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is being hailed as the first study that provides strong evidence that magnesium has a key role to play in the regulation of vitamin D in the body. The same team of researchers had earlier found that low magnesium levels in the body also meant low levels of vitamin D. This is also one of the main reasons why people fail to witness an increase in the levels of vitamin D levels in spite of taking high dose supplements of the vitamin. Magnesium deficiency literally shuts down the synthesis and metabolism pathway of vitamin D in the body. One of the biggest impacts of this study will be on bone health. People facing bone issues can now take a magnesium supplement along with vitamin D supplements in order to get relief faster and also boost the level of vitamin D in their body.
How To Get More Magnesium In Your Diet?
Some foods that are rich in magnesium include:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Fruits such as raspberries, bananas, avocado, and figs
- Nuts and seeds
- Chlorella powder
- Raw cacao
- Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans
- Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, peas, asparagus, and artichokes
- Seafood such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel
- Dark chocolate
In fact, a single avocado contains nearly 58 mg of magnesium, while one slice of whole wheat bread contains 23 mg of magnesium. One of the easiest ways to replenish the levels of magnesium in the body and overcome the deficiency is to choose whole grain foods over refined grains. If the intake of refined grains is much higher than whole grains, then the person is likely to be facing a magnesium deficiency and is likely to be also deficient in vitamin D.
Due to the widespread deficiencies in magnesium, and as a result of vitamin D as well, the use of supplements for both magnesium and vitamin D together is likely to find more support. Research has shown that supplementing the magnesium levels helps reverse vitamin D deficiency as well.
Magnesium deficiency is a widespread issue and is commonly ignored and overlooked by people. More than 75% of people rarely meet the dietary requirements for magnesium. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are subtle and most people do not even come to know that they are deficient in magnesium until the levels become severely low, causing severe problems. Deficiency of magnesium is likely to cause symptoms such as mental disorders, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and even osteoporosis, all symptoms which may easily be attributed to other conditions if you do not get your levels checked.
If you believe you are suffering from magnesium deficiency, then you need to simply undergo a small blood test to confirm the same. Also, consult your doctor to rule out any other possible underlying health condition.