7 Signs & Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency & Treatment

What is Magnesium and Why it is Important?

Magnesium is an essential mineral and one of the seven essential macronutrients that a human body needs in large quantities. The body does not produce magnesium, therefore it must come from external sources. Because magnesium plays a very important role in the human body and is one of the 24 essential vitamins and minerals, a low magnesium level can manipulate many of the body’s functions from normal functioning and increase the risk of chronic health problems [1].

Magnesium plays an important role in the human body as it helps to control and promote many essential functions. One of the most important functions of magnesium is to promote healthy enzyme activity as it is involved in more than 600- 800 enzymatic reactions in human cells. Moreover, 50% – 60% of magnesium is stored in the human bones. It is found 27% in soft tissues. On the other hand, blood serum contains only 1% of total magnesium [1].

The most important role of magnesium is in the energy production and activation of ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) which is the energy molecule that powers the body’s cells. This is because an ADP (Adenosine DiPhosphate) needs to bind with magnesium to be converted to ATP.

Besides this, Magnesium regulates the transport of calcium, potassium, and other important minerals and helps muscles and nerves to function normally. It maintains heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol production, and blood sugar levels. It supports bone development and prevents bone loss because 50-60% magnesium is found in bones. It acts as an electrolyte that maintains the balance of body fluids. It helps regulate the body’s stress response system and hormones that increase or decrease stress [1].

Here are some signs and symptoms of Magnesium deficiency

1. Muscle Twitches (Cramps)

Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps are all signs of magnesium deficiency. Scientists believe these symptoms are caused by calcium entering into the nerve cells, which can overstimulate or activate muscles and nerves that cause muscle twitches. Magnesium deficiency allows too much calcium in muscular cells due to which twitching or muscle cramps occur [2].

2. Seizures and convulsions

From the point of view of the nervous system, magnesium plays an important role in nerve and muscle transmission. It also has a protective effect by preventing overstimulation which can lead to neuronal death that may be associated with various neurological diseases. Magnesium is a mineral of great interest in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency can lead to various neurological diseases like migraines, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, anxiety, and depression. A review study and meta-analysis showed that magnesium is an important mineral needed for regularized neurological functioning. The current research examined in more detail synaptic activity requires an abundant amount of magnesium to function properly and its deficiency can lead to seizures or convulsions [3].

3. Muscle Weakness and Fatigue

Since Magnesium plays an important role in proper muscle function, therefore an insufficient level of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness or fatigue.  Magnesium deficiency is associated with a decrease in potassium levels in muscle cells that results in muscle weakness [4].

4. High Blood Pressure

Numerous studies have been published to understand the relationship between high blood pressure and magnesium deficiency. These studies showed that magnesium deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease. As magnesium is an essential mineral for the parasympathetic nervous system that is responsible to stabilize or lowering blood pressure. Therefore, deficiency of magnesium results in increased calcium and constricted blood vessels due to which, the blood pressure increase [2].

5. Insomnia

Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. People with low magnesium levels tend to have insomnia and often wake up in the middle of the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often results in a deeper, healthier sleep. Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining deep sleep and aiding recovery by maintaining healthy levels of GABA (Neurotransmitter that promotes sleep) Research shows that supplementing magnesium can improve sleep quality especially in those who have insomnia. Magnesium can also help with insomnia associated with restless legs syndrome and sleep disturbances [4].

6. Osteoporosis

People with magnesium deficiency are more likely to have osteoporosis that weakens the bones and are more at risk for fractures. This is because 50-60% of magnesium is deposited in bones and provides strength to the bones. Getting enough magnesium can help in many ways as adequate magnesium intake is associated with increased bone mineral density and can prevent hypocalcemia [5].

7. Irregular Heart Beat

Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia becomes severe in case of magnesium deficiency. This can cause chest pain, dizziness, trouble breathing, and even fainting. These abnormal heart rhythms can be caused by low magnesium levels, which is believed to be another symptom associated with micronutrient deficiency caused by magnesium deficiency. Irregular heartbeat is caused by magnesium deficiency because magnesium triggers a parasympathetic neuronal pathway that maintains the heart rate, therefore its deficiency can cause irregular heart rate [5].

Treatment

To treat magnesium deficiency, lab works are not appropriate to estimate the magnesium deficiency. This is because blood contains only 1% of the magnesium therefore blood tests cannot predict magnesium deficiency. Therefore, it is important to intake magnesium supplements whereas dosage and form of magnesium are also important to be underpinned.

To seek guidance and help regarding the estimation of dosage ad form of magnesium deficiency, feel free to take advantage of ask ASTR (free online medical evaluation to help you figure out possible vitamins, mineral or hormonal imbalance [6].

References

  1. Huang CL, Kuo E. Mechanism of hypokalemia in magnesium deficiency. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2007 Oct 1;18(10):2649-52.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17804670/

  1. Ismail AA, Ismail Y, Ismail AA. Chronic magnesium deficiency and human disease; time for reappraisal?. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. 2018 Nov 1;111(11):759-63.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29036357/

  1. Serefko A, Szopa A, Wlaź P, Nowak G, Radziwoń-Zaleska M, Skalski M, Poleszak E. Magnesium in depression. Pharmacological Reports. 2013 May 1;65(3):547-54.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27910808/

  1. Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in prevention and therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep;7(9):8199-226.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26404370/

  1. Dolati S, Rikhtegar R, Mehdizadeh A, Yousefi M. The role of magnesium in pathophysiology and migraine treatment. Biological trace element research. 2020 Aug;196(2):375-83.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31691193/

  1. Kostov K. Effects of magnesium deficiency on mechanisms of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes: focusing on the processes of insulin secretion and signaling. International journal of molecular sciences. 2019 Jan;20(6):1351.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30889804/