8 Ways to See If You’re Deficient in Magnesium
Human health and flourishing is one of the most complicated formulas (if you could call it that) in the known universe.
While some people take offense to the exceptional nature of humanity, I believe that the human body and the biological systems that keep us going are a testament to God’s handiwork, as we are the representation of His glory.
But I’m not here to wax poetic about the human body and God.
Instead, I wanted to talk about the genius of human biology and how essential nutrients like magnesium play a role in experiencing peak health.
What’s also amazing, although I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising, is how when we aren’t getting enough of the nutrients God intended for us, our bodies will send clear signals something is wrong.
And since I just wrote an article on electrolyte drinks, and magnesium is a key ingredient in electrolyte balance I thought I would write yet another article on magnesium (I’ve written more than half a dozen).
In this article, I’ll be reviewing 8 signs that you can observe or easily test to see if you’re affected by a magnesium deficiency.
To remove all doubt, it’s always a good idea to do lab tests but these 8 signs could be a reason to give yourself a lab test after all.
Best of all in many cases if you identify one or several of these present in your life and then you up your magnesium intake and they go away you know that low magnesium intake was the issue all along.
Signs You May Be Low In Magnesium
1 - You Have Frequent Migraines:
I love telling people to take magnesium for headaches (as opposed to acetaminophen).
And I believe it absolutely works.
If you suffer from frequent migraines it could be a sign magnesium is low:
Research indicates migraine sufferers often have lower levels of magnesium, which is important for proper nerve function and regulating neurotransmitter production.
Supplemental magnesium can decrease the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches and non-migraine headaches by regulating calcium balance within neuronal cells.
Migraines aren’t always caused by low magnesium, but they could be a sign you’re deficient.
2 - Your Gut and Bowel Movements Aren’t Predictable
Magnesium is essential for normal bowel function.
Proper magnesium intake can help soften stools and support healthy elimination, making it a helpful recommendation for those experiencing constipation or discomfort, and cramping due to IBS or similar conditions.
Magnesium also regulates muscle contractions in the intestines, and a deficiency can result in constipation.
This is why products like “milk of magnesia” exist, though it’s better to get your magnesium from diet alone (as opposed to supplements like that).
3 - Your Sleep Is Frequently Off
If you don’t sleep well, low magnesium could be a culprit.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating the production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that helps relax and calm the mind.
Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can help you sleep better by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain.
Lack of GABA production due to magnesium deficiency can lead to difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking up during the night, and poor sleep quality overall. And, as magnesium is involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, it helps the body to relax and prepare for sleep by decreasing the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep.
It has a relaxing effect on muscles which can help with sleep as well.
4 - You Constantly Have Muscle Cramps
If your muscles are cramping a lot, it could be a sign magnesium levels are low.
Magnesium is so important for your health because it’s what helps induce muscle contraction. Your heart literally won’t beat without magnesium, and if your levels of magnesium are depleted it may lead to weak and uncoordinated contractions, spasms, and painful cramps.
That’s why frequent cramps can be a sign you need to up your magnesium intake.
Truthfully cramping may be some of the most common early signs of magnesium deficiency and can occur in the legs, feet, and eyelids. And ladies, if you have experienced worsened PMS-related cramping it could be because magnesium stores are low.
5 - Your Brain Seems Like Its Running Slow
We call this “brain fog,” and tracking down the root cause of brain fog can be tough to do.
But, there’s a chance that low magnesium could be to blame.
That’s because your brain relies on mitochondria to generate energy for cognitive function, and magnesium is critical for mitochondrial function.
Mitochondria heavily rely on magnesium for energy production, and a deficiency can significantly hamper brain performance. As a result, magnesium deficiency can cause brain fog, poor concentration, and memory issues.
As “luck” would have it, adding supplemental magnesium may improve learning and memory. Research has found that magnesium supplementation can help improve cognitive function and reduce the symptoms of memory deficits.
6 - Your Mood Is Up and Down
If your moods are erratic, or unpredictable, there may be a magnesium deficit at play. Magnesium is necessary for regulating neurotransmitter function. As neurotransmitters regulate a wide range of behaviors and cognitive functions you can’t afford to let magnesium levels decline.
As mentioned regarding sleep, one of the neurotransmitters it has the greatest effect on is GABA.
When GABA levels are low, it can lead to a variety of conditions such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, irritability, and mood imbalances.
These conditions can severely impact an individual's quality of life and make it difficult for them to function normally.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, it may be worth considering increasing your daily magnesium intake. This can be done through dietary changes or by taking magnesium supplements.
7 - You Have a Disrupted Heartbeat
If you feel a flutter in your chest and you think your heart is acting funny, it may be a sign that you have an arrhythmia or a disruption in your heartbeat, and this could signal low magnesium levels.
I noted earlier that your muscles contract with the help of magnesium, and your heart is the most active muscle in your whole body so it’s heavily reliant on magnesium.
So if you’re noticing that flutter, upping magnesium through supplements or diet is a good idea.
8 - You Have Pain All Over
If you’re always in pain, it could be because of low magnesium.
Dr. Jockers writes about this condition:
“Chronic pain and related conditions like fibromyalgia are heavily related to tension carried in the body. This tension can be purely physical, but can also be aggravated by emotional stress as well. Emotions such as anxiety, anger, and worry all contribute to physical tension. Over time this chronic tension leads to pain.
When magnesium stores are low in the body, the nervous system can become hyper excitable (meaning easily overstimulated) which can increase muscle tension. Magnesium can play a role here by helping to elicit an overall calming effect on the mind and body while soothing and relaxing the muscles.”
These conditions aren’t always caused by low magnesium but certainly can be an associated problem.
If you want to know how to correct magnesium deficiencies, please see this article I wrote that tells you about the kinds of magnesium that are out there and which to take (and for what) as well as this one too.