While magnesium deficiency is fairly common, it is frequently overlooked as a source of problems. The reason is that serum magnesium levels (the test most doctors use) do not reflect body stores of magnesium. Blood levels are kept within the normal range at the expense of other tissues.
Many people do not get enough magnesium from their diet for reasons including the following:
- The amount of magnesium in the soil in which the food is grown may be reduced.
- Magnesium can be lost in the processing and refining of foods and in making oils from the magnesium-rich nuts and seeds. Nearly 85% of the magnesium in grains is lost during the milling of flours.
- Soaking and boiling foods can leach magnesium into the water, so the “pot liquor” from cooking vegetables may be high in magnesium and other minerals.
- Oxalic acid in vegetables such as rhubarb, spinach and chard, and phytic acid in some grains may form insoluble salts with magnesium, causing it to be eliminated rather than absorbed.
- Supplemental vitamin D or calcium reduces magnesium uptake.
- Diets high in phosphorus (meat, milk products, lentils, seeds, beans, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, bran) reduce magnesium uptake.
- Magnesium elimination is increased in people who use alcohol, caffeine or excess sugar, or who take diuretics or birth control pills.
- Magnesium is absorbed toward the end of the small intestine. If any portion of this area (called the ileum) has been removed, magnesium absorption will be reduced.
Signs, symptoms & indicators of Magnesium Requirement
Fatigue on light exertion
Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include fatigue.
Extreme deficiency may produce hallucinations or delirium.
A 'foggy' mind
Periods of confusion/disorientation
Carbohydrate craving during cycle
(Frequent) difficulty falling asleep
Conditions that suggest Magnesium Requirement
Myocardial magnesium was measured in 8 young patients (mean age 32) with ventricular tachycardia of less than 30 seconds in duration who underwent endomyocardial biopsy. Myocardial magnesium content was lower in the 4 with cardiomyopathic and dysplastic lesions than in the 4 with inflammatory lesions (myocarditis) and 8 controls. 10gm magnesium over 24 hours caused a resolution of ventricular tachycardias and a greater than 80% reduction in ventricular extrasystoles. No response was seen in the 4 patients with inflammatory lesions. [Lancet: 1019, 1987]
In another study of heart failure patients, those with the most frequent initial ectopic beats prior to a magnesium infusion had the most significant decrease with half the number of premature ventricular contractions after the infusion. Almost all the patients who had an increase in serum magnesium greater than the median value of 0.75 mg/dl showed a decrease in premature ventricular depolarization. [ Emergency Medicine, May 1994; p.53]
Magnesium deficient individuals may have an increased risk to arrhythmias, in particular premature ventricular contractions
related to impairment of the sodium-potassium-ATPase pump.
Myocardial magnesium was measured in 8 young patients (mean age 32) with ventricular tachycardia of less than 30 seconds in duration who underwent endomyocardial biopsy. Histologically, 4 had myocarditis and 1 had right-ventricular dysplasia. The other 3 patients had a cardiomyopathy with electron microscopic findings consistent with intracellular calcium overload, possibly due to reduced intracellular magnesium. Myocardial magnesium content was lower in the 4 with cardiomyopathic and dysplastic lesions than in the 4 with inflammatory lesions (myocarditis) and 8 controls. 10gm magnesium over 24 hours caused a resolution of ventricular tachycardias and a greater than 80% reduction in ventricular extrasystoles. No response was seen in the 4 patients with inflammatory lesions. [Lancet: 1019, 1987]
Another study comparing patients with cardiomyopathy against controls found no difference in magnesium levels. [Biol Trace Elem Res. 2003;95: pp.11-17] How magnesium levels were measured is uncertain.
Experimental studies have demonstrated a correlation between magnesium deficiency and atherosclerosis, but without any clear evidence to determine the mechanisms involved. Magnesium deficiency may affect the atherosclerosis process through several different mechanisms.
Chocolate contains significant amounts of magnesium and a chocolate craving may be your body’s way of trying to get more.
According to Ploceniak, prolonged magnesium administration nearly always provides a cure for bruxism. This confirms an earlier report which claimed remarkable reductions and sometimes disappearance in the frequency and duration of grinding episodes in six patients who took assorted vitamins and minerals (which included 100mg of magnesium) for at least five weeks. When the supplement intake stopped, the symptoms returned. [Bruxism and Magnesium, My Clinical Experiences Since 1980, by C. Ploceniak (Translated from the French by James Michels)]
It is possible that some of the hangover symptoms related to alcohol are in part due to magnesium depletion.
Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include fatigue, anorexia, irritability, insomnia, and muscle tremors or twitching. Many cases of muscle cramps are caused by low concentrations of magnesium. [Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Canadian Family Physician. July 1996: 42; pp.1348-1351]
See the treatment link between RLS and magnesium.
Magnesium levels are frequently low in asthmatics. [J Lab Clin Med 1940;26: pp.340-4] Current evidence suggests that high dietary magnesium intake may be associated with better lung function and reduced bronchial reactivity. Intravenous injection of magnesium has been reported in most, but not all, double-blind trials to rapidly halt acute asthma attacks. Some doctors believe that the modified “Myers’ Cocktail” (which contains magnesium) will be the treatment of choice eventually for acute asthma attacks.
Magnesium deficiency is strongly implicated as a causative factor in PMS. Red Blood Cell magnesium levels in PMS patients have been shown to be significantly lower than in normal subjects. The deficiency is characterized by a generalized hyperesthesia syndrome (with generalized aches and pains), and a lower premenstrual pain threshold. One clinical trial of magnesium in PMS showed a reduction of nervousness in 89%, mastalgia in 96%, and weight gain in 95%.
Risk factors for Magnesium Requirement
Hypomagnesemia has been demonstrated in both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. A low intake of magnesium, which is a common deficiency, has been associated with insulin resistance and diabetes in several studies. Magnesium deficiency in diabetes is most likely the result of increased urinary magnesium losses secondary to chronic glycosuria. However, short-term improvement in glycemic control has not been shown to restore the serum magnesium level. Long-term studies may be needed to resolve this discrepancy.
Taking calcium supplement
(Past) non-human estrogen use
Current birth control pill use
Those on birth control pills should take supplemental magnesium.
History of birth control pill use
Multiple mineral supplement use
(Limited) magnesium supplementation
(High) coffee consumption
Caffeinated soft drink consumption
High/low/moderate alcohol consumption
Those who drink alcohol need more magnesium.
Eating sizable chocolate portions
(High) refined sugar consumption
Having had a small bowel resection
In evaluating magnesium levels in patients with small bowel resection, it was found that while serum magnesium was not abnormally low, but both urinary and muscle magnesium concentration decreased with increasing resection length. Muscular fatigue was also positively correlated to a pathologically low muscle magnesium concentration. Results suggest that clinically important magnesium deficiency occurs in patients with resections exceeding 75cm.
Magnesium Requirement suggests the following may be present
Magnesium Requirement can lead to
Recommendations for Magnesium Requirement
See the condition Magnesium Requirement and its link to magnesium testing or the treatment Test Magnesium Levels.
|Weak or unproven link|
|Strong or generally accepted link|
|Proven definite or direct link|
|Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative|
|Likely to help|
An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.
The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.
Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.
A substance that when joined with calcium in the body forms insoluble salts and hinders iron absorption from food. It is found in such vegetables as spinach, chard and rhubarb.
A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.
The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
The second most abundant mineral in the body found in every living cell. It is involved in the proper functioning of both muscles and nerves. It is needed for metabolic processes of all cells, to activate many other nutrients, and to form energy-storage and energy-releasing compounds. The phosphorus content of the body is approximately one percent of total body weight. Phosphorus combines with fats to form phospholipids.
An agent increasing urine flow, causing the kidneys to excrete more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium and water.
An eating disorder characterized by excess control - a morbid fear of obesity leads the sufferer to try and limit or reduce their weight by excessive dieting, exercising, vomiting, purging and use of diuretics. Sufferers are typically more than 15% below the average weight for their height/sex/age and typically have amenorrhea (if female) or low libido (if male). 1-2% of female teenagers are anorexic.
PMS consists of various physical and/or emotional symptoms that occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation. The symptoms begin about midcycle, are generally the most intense during the last seven days before menstruation and include: acne; backache; bloating; fatigue; headache; sore breasts; changes in sexual desire; depression; difficulty concentrating; difficulty handling stress; irritability; tearfulness.
Excessively rapid heart beat due to uncontrolled ectopic focus in the ventricle.
Excision of tissue from a living being for diagnosis.
(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
Located outside normal position, e.g., location of fetus in pregnancy.
(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.
A condition caused by variation in the regular rhythm of the heartbeat. Arrhythmias may cause serious conditions such as shock and congestive heart failure, or even death.
Abnormal development of tissue.
Common form of arteriosclerosis associated with the formation of atheromas which are deposits of yellow plaques containing cholesterol, lipids, and lipophages within the intima and inner media of arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.
Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.
Prolonged, unintentional grinding and clenching of the teeth, usually occurring during sleep. 'Bruxers' are often unaware that they have developed this habit. Symptoms include abraded/chipped teeth (in extreme cases, waking up with tooth chips in the mouth); facial pain; oversensitive teeth; tense facial and jaw muscles; headaches; dislocation of the jaw; damage to the tooth enamel, exposing the inside of the tooth; a popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ); tongue indentations; damage to the inside of the cheek.
A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.
Gestational diabetes is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance with the onset or first recognition occurring during pregnancy. Many pregnant women do not notice any symptoms of diabetes, but urine and blood tests may show that they have it. Symptoms of diabetes may include thirst, weight loss, eating too much, urinating in large quantities and unexplained fatigue.
An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Red Blood Cell
Any of the hemoglobin-containing cells that carry oxygen to the tissues and are responsible for the red color of blood.
An abnormal or pathological increase in sensitivity to sensory stimuli, as of the skin to touch or the ear to sound.
Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
Production of milk; period after giving birth during which milk is secreted in the breasts.