12 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

blog epsom magnesium magnesium deficiency magnesium-rich muscle spasms Jun 03, 2021

Chances are high that you have a magnesium deficiency.  Why do I say this? Because studies of random people in developed countries have found that two thirds of the population has low magnesium or hypomagnesmia.

Magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. If you are deficient in magnesium, some of those chemical reactions aren't happening, or they're not working very well. Without adequate magnesium levels, the body will begin to show physical symptoms.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body.  We need magnesium - it's considered essential for our health.  Magnesium is fundamental for reactions that our little mitochondria powerhouses use to generate energy. 

What is Magnesium Used For?

Magnesium is needed for:

  • Muscle and nerve function 

  • Maintaining a healthy immune system

  • Maintaining normal heart rhythm

  • Building strong bones

  • Lowering cortisol (the stress hormone) 

  • Improving deep sleep and REM sleep

So, as you can imagine, when you've got magnesium deficiency, you're going to see some problems in those areas. 

Types of Magnesium

Magnesium comes in several forms:

  • Magnesium chelate: for muscle building, recovery and overall muscle health

  • Magnesium citrate: helps lessen arterial stiffness

  • Magnesium Bisglycinate: helps treat symptoms of too much stomach acid

  • Magnesium malate: helps with migraines, chronic pain and depression

  •  Magnesium sucrosomial: helps produce energy, supports the immune system and critical for bone health and skeletal development.

  •  Magnesium taurate: helps with function of the heart. 

  • ·Magnesium orotate: enhances muscle performance and recovery, especially good for athletic performance.

The reason why I'm talking about all these different types is that often when you buy a magnesium supplement, it will include only one or two forms of magnesium.

Questions about magnesium deficiency and supplementing with magnesium have come up recently with friends and clients.  I've got an elderly neighbor with muscle pain and her doctor told her that her bloodwork indicated a magnesium deficiency.  Another friend said her mother had been having memory issues and it turned out that she also had a magnesium deficiency.  This tends to become a problem as we get older. 

Dietary Sources of Magnesium

Knowing that magnesium levels are low for many people, and especially in the aging population, we need to get those levels up! One way is to eat foods that are high in magnesium.  

These include: 

  • Dark chocolate

  • Avocados

  • Nuts

  • Legumes

  • Tofu

  • Seeds

  • Whole grains: wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa

  • Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, halibut

  • Bananas

  • Leafy greens

  • Tamarind

  • Okra

  • Oysters

  • Skin-on baked potatoes

  • Raisins


Why Magnesium Levels Are Low

While you can get magnesium from foods, foods may not have the magnesium levels expected. The problem is that the magnesium gets depleted from the soil. When this happens, then the plant that's grown in the soil doesn't have the magnesium either.

How does this happen? 

Big mono-crop industrial farms repeatedly grow the same crop. Over time, the soil gets depleted of some key minerals, including magnesium. If you buy your vegetables from a smaller farmer who rotates crops and grows a variety of produce, it’s likely that the produce will have more nutrients, including magnesium.  

As well, some health conditions can actually cause low magnesium. These include gastro-intestinal diseases, like Crohn's disease, celiac, chronic diarrhea, IBS, and even leaky gut. When your intestinal health drops down, you don't absorb nutrients very well. So even if you're eating magnesium-rich foods or supplementing with magnesium, you may not be absorbing it if your intestinal lining is not robust and healthy. 

Type two diabetes is another condition that can lead to magnesium deficiency. Alcoholism can cause magnesium deficiency and aging is associated with lower magnesium levels. 

You can get a blood test to indicate magnesium levels in the blood, but since most magnesium is actually stored in the bones, it’s just an estimate. 

12 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

There are physical signs of magnesium deficiency. Here are twelve of the most common signs: 

  1. Fatigue

  2. Muscle spasms and cramps, numbness

  3. Insomnia

  4. Irregular heart rhythm

  5. Dizziness

  6. Nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite

  7. Brain issues: migraines, confusion and irritability, anxiety, panic attacks

  8. High blood pressure

  9. Type 2 diabetes

  10. Osteoporosis: bones store magnesium, low minerals lead to bone loss

  11. Constipation

  12. Acid reflux: sphincters (valves) including at the top and bottom of the stomach don’t work properly

How to Increase Levels of Magnesium

If you have several of these physical signs of magnesium deficiency and you are already eating a diet of magnesium-rich foods, you may want to consider a magnesium supplement.  

When considering any supplements, always look at the ingredients to see what the non-medicinal ingredients are. Sometimes the cheaper brands, have a lot of fillers. These include gluten, sweeteners, thickeners, stabilizers and other non-desirable ingredients. You really get what you pay for when it comes to supplements. 

Also, look at the type of magnesium in the supplement. Some brands may have only one or two kinds of magnesium and we actually need all types.  Here is a link to the one I use that has all seven types of magnesium

Another way to get more magnesium is through epsom salt baths, even foot baths! Add about a cup of Epsom salts per gallon of water and soak for 15 minutes. Direct absorption through the skin is a great way to up your magnesium levels.


Whenever you are making lifestyle changes, including food and supplements, keep a journal of what you are doing and your symptoms so you can monitor how your body responds.

Do you think you have a magnesium deficiency and wonder what you can do about it? If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

A simple way to help improve your health is choosing to create peace and calm while you are eating to improve digestion.  HOW you eat can be as important as WHAT you eat.  I have a great resource for you to implement TODAY to help you become empowered in your health.  Click on the image below to receive it. 


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  2. All information in this post is based on my personal experiences. Please discuss any changes to your diet, lifestyle or medications with your healthcare team. No information in this article is meant to replace medical advice. Please read my Terms and Conditions.