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What Does Magnesium Deficiency Mean for Your Health?


Magnesium is a crucial electrolyte that aids in proper nerve, muscle, and enzyme function. It helps the body use energy and is important for moving potassium and sodium in and out of cells. It also is part of the structure of teeth and bones. When an individual has low magnesium levels, they may experience a number of symptoms and health issues.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Because magnesium is involved in so many parts of the body, a deficiency can affect the entire body. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:

  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Sleeplessness and fatigue
  • Dental cavities
  • Recurring infections or a weakened immune systems
  • Hypertension
  • Numbness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease

These symptoms can have lasting effects, and can lead to more serious illnesses if left unchecked. Magnesium is an important nutrient that many people may not get enough of. In a healthy diet, there should be more than enough magnesium, but poor absorption can mean that your body may not be effectively using the nutrients that you consume.

If you are not absorbing and utilizing the magnesium your body needs, it can lead to a number of health problems, ranging from chronic fatigue and insomnia to heart disease and osteoporosis. Low magnesium levels can pose a very real threat to your health. If magnesium deficiency is left untreated, patients can experience cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and even death. It is crucial to ensure that you obtain enough magnesium in your diet and treat any health conditions that may cause low magnesium levels.

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

A magnesium deficiency occurs when you don’t take in as much magnesium as your body uses or when you lose excessive amounts through daily activity. Magnesium is an electrolyte, which can be lost through sweating.

Deficiencies can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as:

  • Alcohol abuse or withdrawal
  • Diabetic complications
  • Poor absorption, due to disease or poor gut health
  • High blood calcium levels
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Long-term diarrhea
  • Low magnesium content diets
  • Pregnancy, especially later trimesters
  • Underactive parathyroid glands

Treating Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can be treated with supplements or IV fluids, if levels are low enough to pose an immediate threat. Treatment for the condition that is causing the magnesium deficiency may also raise magnesium levels. Diet can also be a powerful tool to treat your magnesium deficiency.

One of the reasons for low levels of magnesium may be poor absorption. This can be caused by a number of illnesses, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, leaky gut, and intestinal damage. Treatments such as radiation therapy, surgery, and antibiotics may cause injury to the intestines or reduce the amount of digestive bacteria in the gut. A history of family illness and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of poor absorption.

Treating an injured or compromised digestive tract can help increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Often, eliminating certain foods that trigger illness or inflammation, such as gluten, can help those who suffer from certain diseases that affect digestion to absorb nutrients. Probiotics may also help boost healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, making it easier to digest food and use the nutrients that it contains.

Increasing your magnesium intake can also help to raise your magnesium levels and reduce the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Dietary sources of magnesium include:

  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, and peanuts.
  • Dark leafy greens: spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and turnip greens.
  • Beans and lentils: black-eyed peas, red lentils, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and black beans.
  • Whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, millet, bulgur, whole wheat pasta, and barley
  • Low-fat Dairy: milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Fish: mackerel, pollock, turbot, and tuna
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Avocado
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bananas

Our integrative, diverse approach to medical treatment and healing may be able to help you. We are dedicated to reducing chronic illnesses, and we explore alternative treatments, such as healthful diets. Contact the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine today to learn more about effective and natural treatments for magnesium deficiency.