5 Signs You Don’t Get Enough Magnesium

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS

Magnesium deficiency is often overlooked and rarely tested, but an estimated 80 person of adults are thought to be deficient in this vital mineral, making it one of the leading nutritional deficiencies in adults. The scariest part of a magnesium deficiency? It can trigger major health issues, including migraines, chronic constipation, and seizures.

Considering all of the important roles that magnesium plays in the body—from protein synthesis, to muscle and nerve function, to blood pressure regulation—it’s a good idea to be proactive, staying aware of the warning signs of magnesium deficiency, getting your own levels checked, eating magnesium-rich foods, and considering taking a high-quality magnesium supplement.

A magnesium deficiency can present different symptoms for different people, but here are a few common warning signs you should be aware of:

1. Leg Cramps

Leg cramps as well as restless leg syndrome could be potential warning signs you need more magnesium, as magnesium’s role in neuromuscular signals and muscle contraction make it a potential culprit for these symptoms. Magnesium helps your muscles relax and contract and enables you to move around better—without it, your body struggles to stay calm and move as efficiently.

Magnesium also helps balance calcium in the body, which is important because high doses of calcium (be sure you are not over supplementing) can cause problems associated with muscle control. To fight off leg cramps and restless leg syndrome, you will want to increase your intake of both magnesium and potassium—either through adding whole foods to your diet or supplementing.

2. Insomnia

Magnesium supplements can help quiet racing thoughts and make it easier to get a good night’s rest. In a trial, when patients were given magnesium supplements or a placebo over an eight-week period, the magnesium group experienced a significant increase in sleep time, an easier time falling asleep, higher concentrations of melatonin, and lower levels of cortisol, which is associated with stress.

As a result, it is believed that a lack of magnesium can cause insomnia. The good news is that researchers have concluded that magnesium is a low-risk natural remedy that is effective at helping to relieve insomnia symptoms, improving sleep efficiency, sleep time, sleep onset, and aiding in early rising.

3. Anxiety

With muscle tension, chest tightness, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems, panic attacks, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, sweating and an inability to socialize, anxiety can be debilitating. An anxiety can actually be caused by hormonal imbalances—that is, certain hormones regulated by magnesium calm the brain and promote relaxation, so if your body lacks all of the necessary magnesium, it can be left in a near constant state of stress and tension. For example, GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces “happy hormones” like serotonin, requires magnesium.

When analyzing mice, researchers found that magnesium deficiency also caused an increase in cortisol hormones, specifically by activating the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, a section of the brain that controls responses to stress and anxiety.

4. High Blood Pressure

Magnesium — partnered with calcium — supports proper blood pressure and helps protect the heart. When you are magnesium-deficient, this then means that you are often also low in calcium and are more susceptible to hypertension or high blood pressure. High blood pressure then increases the risk of arterial damage, aneurysm, heart failure, blocked or ruptured blood vessels, reduced kidney function, vision loss, trouble concentrating, reduced cognition, as well as high cholesterol, high insulin, atherosclerosis, and increased waist size.

Globally, hypertension causes 50 percent of ischemic strokes. One study, with a whopping 241,378 participants, discovered that a diet high in magnesium foods could reduce the risk of stroke by 8 percent.

5. Migraine Headaches

Several studies have shown that when sufferers of migraines supplement with magnesium, their symptoms improve. Because magnesium is involved in neurotransmitter function and blood circulation, it can help relieve the pain and symptoms associated with migraine headaches. Magnesium helps release pain-reducing hormones and reduces the constriction of the blood vessels that raises blood pressure.

Want more health tips? Read this guide from Dr. Holly Phillips or try out the sane summer cleanse.


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