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!
Why are we magnesium deficient?
There are several reasons:
- 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!
- We’re incredibly stressed out. Constantly on the go… always on technology… lack of sleep… Stress hormone production requires high levels of magnesium!
- 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.
- 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:
- Sugar cravings
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Muscle cramping
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Behavioral disturbances
- Impaired memory/thinking
- Sleep disturbances
- Chronic back pain
- 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.
I’ve got two posts that will help you boost your magnesium levels.
- Foods High In Magnesium: Which Are Best?
- Which is the Best Magnesium Supplement? (coming soon)
How about you?
Do you have magnesium deficiency symptoms? Have you worked to increase the magnesium in your diet or supplementation?