The Little-Known Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
We all know that we need to get regular doses of calcium to keep our bones strong. We know that Omega-3 helps our brain. But do we really know the importance of magnesium or the symptoms if we’re deficient?
Magnesium is a highly under-rated mineral that is vital for our brain development and functioning. It is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It assists our nervous system, aids energy production, helps adjust blood glucose levels and is even needed for DNA replication. Many people may have symptoms of magnesium deficiency and attribute them to other issues.
I first became aware I was deficient in magnesium when I was a teenager. My mother took me to an Iridologist (someone who determines health issues by looking into your eyes). She told me my levels were very low. However, I never really understood why this mineral was so important until very recently.
While muscle cramps are possibly the most common symptom people think of when thinking of low magnesium levels, this is not the most important. There are many more serious side effects of low magnesium levels.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
- Muscles spasms/cramps
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- High blood pressure
- Mental disorders, such as anxiety
- Irregular heartbeat
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Morning sickness
- Heart attack
- Kidney stones
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
Dr Carolyn DEAN’s book “The Magnesium Miracle”
What I learnt through my research is that there is a whole range of other symptoms. All of them indicate low levels, which I attributed to other factors.
For me, I suffer terribly with hormonal issues due to Endometriosis (see my article on Living With Endometriosis). I also suffer Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (see my article on PMDD: The Silent Life Destroyer). While researching ways to reduce my symptoms, I discovered that magnesium plays a huge role in balancing out hormonal levels.
After increasing my dosage to the maximum recommended for my age, I found my energy levels increased. My brain fog cleared and I was able to focus more easily. My mood improved. I had more energy when working out at the gym. I was blown away by just how much better I felt.
Ever wondered why you crave chocolate around that time of the month? This is because chocolate contains magnesium. So, during menstruation, women lose stores of magnesium. Therefore the body craves it in order for it to be replaced.
After increasing my magnesium intake to the maximum dosage, I found my constant chocolate cravings diminished. While I still get some cravings around menstruation, they are not nearly as strong or as frequent as they were previously.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)
According to the National Institutes of Health, the following are recommended RDA’s by age and gender:
|Birth to 6 months||30 mg*||30 mg*|
|7–12 months||75 mg*||75 mg*|
|1–3 years||80 mg||80 mg|
|4–8 years||130 mg||130 mg|
|9–13 years||240 mg||240 mg|
|14–18 years||410 mg||360 mg||400 mg||360 mg|
|19–30 years||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|31–50 years||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
|51+ years||420 mg||320 mg|
Risk Factors Associated With Deficiency
Those who are deficient are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Conditions or illnesses that can be helped by increasing magnesium intake are:
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cerebral palsy
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Headaches and migraines
Those At A Higher Risk Of Deficiency
Women are at a higher risk of being deficient due to menstruation and pregnancy. Also, people who sweat a lot (either through exercise or hyperhidrosis) are also at a greater risk.
Those who suffer from gastrointestinal diseases such as Chrones disease, Celiacs disease or have constant diarrhoea are at greater risk also due to the depletion over time.
Best Sources of Magnesium
The best way to increase your intake is through a healthy diet. Trying to increase you dietary intake is always the best option. So, foods that are rich in magnesium include:
- Green leafy vegetables – such as spinach
- Nuts – such as almonds and cashews
- Whole grains
- Soy milk
- Black beans (cooked)
- Bread (whole wheat)
- Brown rice
- Yoghurt (plain)
Of course, if you aren’t getting enough of the mineral from your diet, you can take a supplement. However, always check with your health care provider before taking any supplement. Magnesium can interfere with antibiotics and reflux medication and too much can cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
If you suspect you may have a magnesium deficiency, organise for a blood test through your GP.
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