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How Can I Tell If I Have Magnesium Deficiency?

The fact that around 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended magnesium intake is really disturbing. Although magnesium deficiency affects less than two percent, we should all start thinking about increasing our intake of this important mineral.

Magnesium is a vital mineral and electrolyte that participates in numerous bodily processes, such as bone and teeth structure, energy production, nerve function, DNA replication, muscle function, RNA and protein synthesis, etc.

That’s why it’s crucial that we get enough magnesium in our diet to stay healthy.

The truth is, our body is capable of retaining good levels of this mineral, which is why it’s rare for someone to feel magnesium deficiency symptoms. Still, there are certain factors that can raise our risk of developing deficiency.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Magnesium Deficiency

  • eating low magnesium foods for a longer time
  • having celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders
  • being pregnant or breastfeeding
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • having type 2 diabetes
  • being hospitalized
  • taking diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, bisphosphonates, and other medications
  • being older

Long-term deficiency may affect brain function, bone density, digestive system, and nerve and muscle function.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

1. Muscle Cramps and Twitches

Muscle cramps, tremors, and twitches are common signs of magnesium deficiency. In serious cases, it can even cause convulsions or seizures. According to researchers, these symptoms happen because of the increased flow of calcium into nerve cells.

This, in turn, hyperstimulates or overexcites the muscle nerves. Still, one study concluded that taking magnesium supplements in such cases won’t help if you’re an older adult.

2. Fatigue & Muscle Weakness

Although we’re all tired and fatigued at some point, persistent or severe fatigue might be a symptom of magnesium deficiency, especially if it’s accompanied by muscle weakness. Muscle weakness can happen due to a lack of potassium in muscle cells – a condition linked to magnesium deficiency.

3. High Blood Pressure

According to animal studies, a lack of this mineral may promote high blood pressure and increase blood pressure. This, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease. Some human observations suggest that a lack of magnesium may increase blood pressure.

Controlled studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements may reduce blood pressure in adults suffering from hypertension.

4. Asthma

According to a 2007 study, people who have asthma may also have a magnesium deficiency. That’s why experts believe that deficiency can cause calcium buildup in the muscles lining the airways of lungs.

As a result, the airways constrict and breathing becomes more difficult. Still, more research is needed to prove that magnesium can help people with asthma.

5. Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia is one of the most serious symptoms of this mineral deficiency. Other symptoms of arrhythmia are shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fainting, and chest pain.

According to researchers, one of the possible reasons may be an imbalance of potassium levels outside and outside of heart muscle cells – a condition linked to magnesium deficiency.

6. Mental Disorders

Another possible symptom of magnesium deficiency includes mental disorders like apathy – lack of emotion or mental numbness. Studies suggest that a lack of this mineral may contribute to anxiety and depression.

Other early symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • nausea

How to Get More Magnesium

By adding the following magnesium-rich foods to our daily diet:

  • spinach
  • nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts)
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate
  • black beans
  • peanut butter
  • potato
  • pumpkin seeds
  • whole wheat bread
  • rice
  • avocado
  • fortified cereals
  • yogurt

Other foods that contain reasonable amounts of the mineral are:

  • kidney beans
  • oatmeal
  • apples
  • banana
  • milk
  • fish (halibut and salmon)
  • beef
  • chicken breast
  • raisins
  • carrot
  • broccoli

How to Improve Magnesium Absorption

Not only that we should eat more foods containing magnesium, but we should also make sure our body absorbs it in the best way possible. To improve absorption, we should try:

  • avoiding or reducing foods rich in calcium two hours before or after consuming foods high in magnesium
  • improve vitamin D levels
  • quitting smoking
  • consuming raw veggies instead of cooking

We can also consider taking magnesium supplements, but we should always consult a doctor before taking them.

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