Do you have a Magnesium Deficiency?

Do you have a magnesium deficiency? Yes, why yes you do.

In all seriousness, it’s estimated that 3/4 of the population is deficient in this mineral, so chances are that you really are magnesium deficient.

But don’t take it personally—I was magnesium deficient too! (I reversed it with food and supplementation.)

Why are we magnesium deficient?

There are several reasons:

  1.  Junk food and processed diets. For every molecule of sugar we consume, our bodies use 54 molecules of magnesium to process it. Diuretics in coffee and tea (caffeine) also raise excretion levels. Oh, and by the way – fluoride competes for absorption with magnesium!
  2. We’re incredibly stressed out. Constantly on the go… always on technology… lack of sleep… Stress hormone production requires high levels of magnesium!
  3. Low levels in the soil. Modern farming techniques deplete stores of magnesium. Our vegetables test -24% compared to the 1940’s. Our fruits test -16% compared to the 1940’s.
  4. And lastly, magnesium is depleted by many pharmaceutical drugs and estrogen compounds such as oral contraceptives, antibiotics, cortisone, prednisone, and blood pressure medications (“Drug-induced nutrient depletion handbook,” Pelton, 2001).

Why is magnesium important?

Magnesium is best known for its importance in muscle health, so it’s vital for the heart, a very important muscle. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, it inhibits blood clots, thins the blood, blocks calcium uptake, and relaxes blood vessels.

However, magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 reactions (some say 700!) in the body. It’s involved with:

  • Energy production
  • Protein formation
  • Blood sugar control
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Bone and teeth formation
  • Temperature regulation
  • DNA synthesis

Magnesium is also vital for detoxification. It helps protect the body from the effects of environmental toxins.

What are the magnesium deficiency symptoms?

The list is long! Magnesium is crucial for so many functions of the body that deficiency manifests in many ways.

Magnesium deficiency can have neurological, muscular, cardiovascular and metabolic symptoms, including:

  • Constipation
  • Sugar cravings
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Muscle cramping
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Lethargy
  • Impaired memory/thinking
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Aggression
  • Brain fog

And the list goes on! The Journal of the American Colege of Nutrition states:

“Similarly, patients with diagnoses of depression, epilepsy, diabetes mellitus, tremor, Parkinsonism, arrhythmias, circulatory disturbances (stroke, cardiac infarction, arteriosclerosis), hypertension, migraine, cluster headache, cramps, neuro-vegetative disorders, abdominal pain, osteoporosis, asthma, stress dependent disorders, tinnitus, ataxia, confusion, preeclampsia, weakness, might also be consequences of the magnesium deficiency syndrome.”

How to test for magnesium deficiency?

Standard blood tests aren’t accurate for magnesium, even though they test for the other electrolytes like sodium, potassium and calcium. The reason is that your body steals magnesium from muscles, bones etc, to keep blood magnesium levels normal so that your heart can function properly (among other things).

You may be thinking, “Well at least I will know if my blood levels are normal,” but only 1% of the body’s magnesium hangs out in the blood. So, if the rest of the body is depleted to keep the blood levels up, a “normal” blood test result isn’t always that that useful in determining overall deficiency.

However, Morley Robbins, an expert in and advocate for Magnesium does recommend getting a Magnesium RBC blood test. You want to be 6.0-6.5, or on the top part of the range. Be sure to check out his awesome Facebook group, Magnesium Advocacy Group.

Talk to your doctor about getting a Magnesium RBC blood test. Or use a service like Request A Test to do it yourself.
I recently tested my levels and was at 5.1, so I’m doing something about it. You can also test your magnesium levels through a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. If your hair shows too high or too low mineral levels of magnesium, you are most likely deficient and need to supplement.

Further reading

I’ve got two posts that will help you boost your magnesium levels.

  1. Foods High In Magnesium: Which Are Best?
  2. Which is the Best Magnesium Supplement?

How about you?

Do you have magnesium deficiency symptoms? Have you worked to increase the magnesium in your diet or supplementation?



About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.


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  1. Thank you for posting on this topic! I’m a holistic health practitioner and learned about hair mineral analysis when I discovered I may have a copper dysregulation. That lead me to further studying the subject, taking certification courses, and adding hair mineral analysis to my practice. I work with clients in-person and long distance now.

    The magnesium RBC test is great but I really urge everyone to do a hair analysis as well. Just taking magnesium to boost your levels may not be the answer. Each and every mineral nutrient works synergistically or antagonistically with other mineral nutrients and even heavy metals. So, there are times when a person may present with signs of magnesium deficiency but it turn out to be more of an issue of other minerals or heavy metals causing it to not be properly utilized by the cells.

  2. I am 6 weeks pregnant with my second and suffering with horrible constipation. Never had this with my first. Do you recommend starting with a 200mg supplement? Any brands you recommend or what to look for when picking out a supplementation?

  3. Yes! Yes! And yes! I have been taking an oxygenated magnesium supplement called BioCleanse for almost 2 years now and have had so many improvements to so many areas of my health. Most importantly, my bowels actually move correctly now!

    • I was curious about this BIOCLEANSE………… It is made up of MAGNESIUM HYDROXIDE which is the type that is put in antacids…..Then there is some VITAMIN C added and finally a little SODIUM BICARBONATE (baking soda). For the price of this “formulation” I will just take a couple of antacids and chase ’em down with a pinch of baking soda added to my lemon water LOL

  4. I use Biocleanse as my magnesium supplement. I love it because with my last pregnancy I suffered from constipation none of that horribleness this pregnancy thanks to my magnesium supplement. I also haven’t been swelling up!

    • How much did you take while pregnant? Did you take it every day?

  5. I started giving magnesium to my boyfriend, now 30, several years ago for heart palipatations and to prevent heart attacks he’d been having since he was a teenager. I am happy to report not a single issue since he began supplimentation. It works great for people who get migranes as well. I do have a supplement recommendation, do use magnesium oil, transdermal application allows much more magnesium to get into your body. When you ingest it, it will likely just make you use the restroom. Which is fine, but you’ll absorb much more by just rubbing the magnesium oil on your skin. Or take an epsom salt bath, that’s my favorite way to get magnesium.

    • Can you share which brand of magnesium oil you use? Thanks!

  6. I was veer sufficient in magnesium and none of my doctors were testing it. I was even diagnosed with narcolepsy and put on Ritalin which almost killed me. Finally a natural minded doctor tested me and found I was very sufficient in magnesium. Makes sense since I was very tired, had major muscle cramps, and had terrible periods. I feel amazing now!

  7. I have majority of the symptoms of magnesium deficient. Will is be harmful to begin taking a magnesium supplement (ie: a vitamin of 500mg daily) prior to obtaining any sort of testing?

    • I would start with 200 mg and watch for symptoms and bowel changes. Most practitioners believe 400-600mg a day is safe. Of course, you can always talk to doctor!

  8. I eat overripe organic banana peels for all the macro minerals except sodium.

  9. Which magnesium supplement would you recommend taking ? Natural Calm ?

  10. Where did you do a hair tissue analysis?

  11. I just got my magnesium tested, and am at 4.6, an increase over two years ago when I was 1.5. However, the healthy range from the lab says it should be between 1.5-2.4, so I think I actually have too much? Can you tell me why/where/how the above 6-6.5 range as mentioned above is better?

    • Shonna,
      I think those are two different lab tests. I’m an RN at a local hospital, and the 1.5-2.4 is a range that we use with standard blood tests, and a level of 4.6, according that test, would be pretty dangerous I believe, if not fatal (due to the effects on the heart!). I’ve never seen a level that high. I think Genevieve is talking about a different test, the Magnesium RBC blood test, for the 6-6.5 range. Hope that helps!

  12. I was just researching this yesterday! I’m excited to learn more. I’ve been trying to figure out a supplement regime that would benefit me the most and help me feel more rested and healthy so I can enjoy my day and my children.

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